Cover Image: The Witch of Willow Hall

The Witch of Willow Hall

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Member Reviews

Witches, ghosts, and classic romance. Lydia's family moves away from Boston and into Willow Hall in an attempt to escape scandalous rumors. Life is challenging for Lydia at Willow Hall as she begins seeing spirits, she develops powers that she doesn't understand how to control, and her dearest little sister goes missing. The only light in Lydia's world is her father's business partner, who she begins to have feelings for. 
I enjoyed the witchcraft and romance parts of this book, but was expecting the ghosts to play a bigger part of the story. Overall a fun read.
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This was utterly delightful, and the Jane Austen fan in me found a surprising home within these pages. 

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect with this, but I was ever so pleased with what I received. This was a strange little book of words. For one, the pacing was rather ... slow. It felt like very little happened and what I expected came much later than I hoped. And yet, this book had that magical quality that gripped me so tightly. It was difficult for me to put the book down and I often found myself choosing to read this over the paperback novel I've been driving to finish for three weeks. 

The story itself was interesting. Lydia is a lovely and relatable character. I always enjoy it when characters have such vivid imaginations about day-to-day happenings because I am much the same. Her sister on the other hand ... what a b*tch. And that's putting it lightly. Also, there's plot line that I found to be shocking to say the least. Downright disturbing at times, actually Nevertheless, how it all unravels is wonderfully done. The dash of mystery is a welcome addition.    

The romance was what put me in mind of Jane Austen the most. Mr. Barrett greatly reminded me of Mr. Darcy, so naturally I fell as hard for him as Lydia did. I really enjoyed how Hester Fox developed the relationship. There was enough uncertainty to make it not feel fated and cause concern and despair to match Lydia. Especially with her sister getting involved. Again, I repeat, what a b*tch. 

I'm reluctant to say the witch aspect really comes into play. It's delicate and weak. Aside from a few little events, it's not exactly prevalent. Perhaps that's because Lydia is yet to figure out what she is and isn't in control. Still, I liken it more to Harry Potter before he found out what he was. All the little explosions of magic when he had certain emotions. Grief, anger, etc. 

Really, the only thing that kept it from five stars for me was I found it to lacking in what made it wonderful. I needed more Mr. Barrett, more ghosts, more witchery. I'd have happily continued reading if it were twice the size but included more of the above.
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This was an interesting novel. I requested it on a whim because I liked the title. It though has some interesting characters, with an odd little town. It was well blended between tortured souls (literally), those that couldn't forgive themselves and yet they all seek love. I have never read a book like this and I am happy to say I would read this story again, it would be a book to read a few times, because I am sure that many things pop out in different ways through other readings.
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Although predictable (I guessed the ending early in the book), The Witch of Willow Hall was an enjoyable romantic read about a young woman to whom unexpected and often unwelcome things often happened.  Throughout the book, she learns more about her family history and why she experiences life differently.
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I loved this book! It wasn't exactly what I expected, but I still really liked it. It was a quick and easy read for me. This book ticked off several boxes for me - intriguing characters, an appealing and attractive love interest, a mysterious and haunted house, a spooky New England setting, ghosts, witchcraft. I'm an instant fan of Hester Fox! Please write more :)
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Lydia just didn’t do it for me.  Easily manipulated by everyone around her.  Wish her character could have been a whole lot stronger..  That being said, I did read the whole book so there is merit there.  I don’t always finish something if it’s not grabbing me but this kept me going.  I also couldn’t see John as a blonde.  He was dark with dark eyes in my mind.  Still worth reading and I will recommend to library patrons.
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First I would like to thank Netgalley and Graydon House  for allowing me to read an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review!

Let me just say that I am not sure  exactly what genre this books is but I guess I would call it a historical paranormal romance and let me tell you that I am here for it! I just loved this book. I was intrigued by the cover of the book that the blurb but I did not expect to enjoy this as much as I thought I would. This is the perfect book to read on a chilly Autumn evening by the fire. It is warm yet gothic, romantic, lovely and yet heartbreaking.

Lydia Montrose has known for a long time that she was different  and she can even tell you the exact day it hit her that something was off, she was around five and she hurt a crue little boy without touching him. After that her Mother warned her to never do that again. Though she didn't understand how she did what she did she tried her best to hide who truly is. In fact she did such a good job she began to live in denial of her true self.

Years later Lydia, her parents, older sister Catherine and her youngest sister Emmeline flee Boston to the small town of Old Newbury and the towering Willow Hall due to a terrible scandal that caused her older brother to leave the country. The house is big and overpowering and the pond in the woods immediately enthralls young   Emmeline who believes that the mermaids dwell there. While the the pond and thoughts of mermaids enthralls Emmeline Lydia finds her own obsession in the form of young, handsome John Barrett. Shortly after settling in to Willow Hall Lydia begins to hear an anguished cry of a woman a flash of white and messages written on a fogged mirror. 

While the title of this novel is called "The Witch of Willow Hall" you won't find much witchcraft here. This is more about romance, family drama and a young woman discovering who she truly is. There is an unease throughout the book, as if you are just waiting for something bad to happen. The home and the grounds are a character as well. It's as if you can feel the house breathing around Lydia, engulfing her and her family.

Lydia is a lovely, likable character and if you, like me are a bit bookish and quiet you will find much of yourself in Lydia. She is brave, strong, kind and thoughtful. Traits we all hope to have. Set in 1821 she is such a headstrong woman, the kind you would find in any Jane Austen novel. John is the kind of man we all dreamed of as young girls and Lydia's relationship with the sweet and adorable Emmeline is heartwarming. The one flaw for me was Lydia and Catherine's relationship. I hate when one sister views the other with such disdain. I understand why but it just made me hate Catherine and have no sympathy for her at all. Other than that I loved this book. Hester Fox's writing is fantastic. You picture clearly everything in the bok.. I knew exactly what the pond looked like with the willow tree, I could picture the general store in town and I knew exactly what the town's desperate busybody looked like. Full of romance, love, misunderstandings and yes, a little magic I would recommend this!
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In the beginning this book appeared to have a lot going for it. First, the cover was appealing; then, the blurb sounded interesting with its glowing accompanying reviews. It promised to be full of strange powers, dark history, family drama and, of course, witches. Unfortunately, the first half turned out to be more of a historical romance having a lot of family drama with only a hint of the supernatural. In the second half of the book there was more witchcraft, but it always seemed secondary to the family drama. I also had trouble with many of the little details in the book. So much so, that they even stayed with me after I put the book down. Most of these occurred in the first 20% of the book and, combined with the story being more romance than supernatural, I was tempted to stop reading then. But, I wanted to be fair to both book and author, so I carried on. I feel this book is more historical romance than anything else and because of that, I was very disappointed. 

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book
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I really enjoyed this one! It reminded me of a YA Pride and Prejudice set in 1820s New England, with a sprinkling of ghosts and witches. A quick and entertaining read, perfect for regency romance readers. Loved the characters, even the unlikable ones.
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The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox 
One word description.....Intense!  
     I was invested from the beginning as has been said many times before "I couldn't put it down".  Ms. Fox pulls you in to the story and keeps you there until the very end.  Her words paint pictures that you can envision immediately.  To put it in a nutshell this is a book about a witch that doesn't know she was a witch.  
     The book begins with an occurrence when Lydia is 9 years old.  Expecting punishment from her mother Lydia is surprised and relieved when her mother's response is "So, that answers that."  Lydia has no idea what the question was, or eve what exactly had been resolved, but something in her mother's tone told her she wasn't going to be punished.  For 9 year old Lydia, that was enough to know.  Her mother did tell her that the matter was never to be discussed again and "you must never show the world what it is that you have inside of you."  Her mother impresses on her the fact that their lives would be drastically changed if it should ever be shown to the world again.  They could be turned out of their home or worse.  Lydia never considered that they might be turned out for any other reason and certainly not for rumors that surround the family.  
     The tale jumps to 10 years later, and the family has in effect been banished from Boston, not because of Lydia, but scandal created by her older sister Catherine.  This then brings us the rest of the story.......  A story of scandal, ghosts, love and heartbreak.
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3 stars--I liked the book.

This is a gothic romance with emphasis on the "romance." It's the story of Lydia, who must endure intense family dramas, a move to the country, and the awakening of her witchcraft. 

I enjoyed the parts of the book concerning Lydia's powers. There are ghosts, a properly creepy house, uncontrolled magic, and a witchy ancestor; all this I enjoyed. However, I wanted more of this! Most of the book is concerned with Lydia's romantic life, which I enjoyed--but I'm more of a gothic reader than a romance reader, so I wanted more witches.

I gave this book 3 stars, not 4 (liked instead of really liked) because it contains a lot of anachronisms. I don't demand total historical accuracy when I read, but when character behavior or vocabulary is clearly modern, it pulls me out of the book.

I received this review copy from the publisher on NetGalley. Thanks for the opportunity to read and review; I appreciate it!
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"The Witch of Willow Hall" was a fascinating book, perfect for Fall! Lydia is the middle daughter of a wealthy family in Boston. Her older sister, Catherine, is the beautiful sister, and while Lydia could live in her shadow, she forges her own path, mainly doting on her younger sister Emeline and reading books. At the beginning of the book, the Montroses have fled Boston with the three sisters to go to New Oldbury after a scandal/rumors (which we slowly learn about throughout the book), and their son has fled to England.

The three sisters are venturing into town when Emeline loses her beloved dog, Snip. As Lydia searches for him, she meets the handsome John Barrett, who helps her to find him. Mr. Barrett is their next door neighbor and their father's new business partner- and soon, Lydia's love interest. Aside from the secrets hidden in the family due to the scandal, Willow Hall, their new residence, is carrying its own dark secrets.

Lydia is carrying her own secrets- things that happen around her that she cannot explain. Her mother knows the truth of it, but she has taken a distant role in her daughters' upbringing. It began with the incident when she was child, where a boy who killed her kitten was injured in her anger. At Willow Hall, Lydia is haunted with a lack of sleep and seeming visions. This supernatural element feels so creepy and is written so well that you can't help but be pulled into the story.

As the book continues, a romance develops alongside the mysteries of the family and Lydia herself which slowly come to light. This book is absolutely enchanting. and I couldn't help but keep page turning at the sacrifice of sleep. Although not a lot of action in the traditional sense, the mysteries and writing make the book feel fast-paced without a lull. With betrayals, rivalries, blackmail, secrets, ghosts, and witchcraft, this book has more than enough to keep the reader highly engaged.

I highly recommend this book for people who enjoy paranormal romance- this is a highly captivating and skillfully written book that is definitely worth picking up! You certainly won't regret it! I am definitely interested in reading more from this author and would love more around this setting. 

Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
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I gave this book a 4 star rating.

So I wanted to read this book as it was about a witch, and well it's that time of year.  I didn't go in with any real expectations, and was pleasantly surprised by it.

It is a YA novel, so it didn't get as dark as it could (and believe me with the plot the author had going she could have made it a lot darker), but it had just enough of a creepy factor to make it enjoyable.

When I first started reading it, all the narrator kept talking about was the huge scandal that her family had just went through in Boston.  I have to say that I was put off that it took so long to find out what that scandal was.  (About half way through, maybe a little less.)  But that is just me wanting to know this now, and the author had other plans.

The love story part felt kinda instalove to me, but the story does take place in the late 1800s, so I think that was quite common.  But on the other side, our main character seemed so naive to everything and she is about 19 years of age.  At this time, no one is that slow.

Overall, I liked the plot and the pace of the book.  It started kinda slow, but once the actual action started, it picked up in a hurry.  I would recommend this book to other readers.
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Autumn is coming, and that means it's time to get out your scarves and boots, and read a creepy Gothic or macabre story, something like The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox.

The Witch of Willow Hall actually starts in the hot, muggy New England summer and slowly makes its way into the crisp, cool autumn and snowy winter, which makes it a perfect read right now, as it is still technically summer and still very hot where I live. This book reminded me a little of White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi, one of my favorite books, meets We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, mixed with a ghost story in which the protagonist can see and interact with ghosts, like in Crimson Peak. It was (mostly) perfect to say the least. I read it over the span of just two days. Having to know what happened to Lydia, I plowed through the book, especially at the halfway mark where I read it all the way to the end, staying up well past my bedtime.

That being said, I believe that the second half of the story is weaker than the first, at least for me. Not because of the worldbuilding (we get so much deliciously creepy stuff in the second half), but because of the sense of urgency that comes with the climb to the story's climax. I don't know why, but I was enjoying the quiet little life Lydia and her family were leading, so when things started to be revealed about halfway through, rather than being glad, I felt more anxious, which I suppose is the point. Normally, I'd be excited for this, but instead I just needed to get to the end, otherwise I would have worried about Lydia far too much to do anything other than pine away for the time when I could finish reading the book. I guess this means that the story was successful—it pulled me in—because it had me on the edge of my seat, so to speak, from the beginning all the way until the end.

Fox does an excellent job of showing and telling the story from Lydia's perspective. At times, I wondered if Lydia was an unreliable narrator. Also, the descriptions of other people's facial expressions and reactions to Lydia made it feel as though Lydia didn't always know what was going on, but you, the reader, should be able to pick up on the other characters' true feelings (i.e., John Barrett's) and know things that Lydia may not. This sort of telling-the-story-through-Lydia's-self-conscious-lens made it more exciting somehow, and while the other characters (i.e., Catherine, Cyrus) can be infuriating, the way Fox tells the story through Lydia makes you want to root for her throughout the entire story.

If you like ghost stories and witches, then this is your cup of tea. I'm excited to see what Hester Fox writes next, especially since she's a fellow museum worker, a kindred spirit.
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I found this book hard to put down- the tension catches you right away, and stays taut throughout the story. The Montrose family, fleeing scandalous rumors, move from Boston to Willow Hall in New Oldbury, MA, where Mr. Montrose has business dealings. Strange things are happening at the estate; there are ghostly figures, messages written in the stream on a mirror, whispering voices, but only Lydia, the middle sister, can see or hear them. There is budding romance, secrets are slowly revealed, tragedy strikes, a smidge of witchcraft, and mysterious histories come to light- the full gothic monty! Parts of the story are agonizingly slow- the details of the scandal that drove the family out of Boston, the hints of hidden powers- but in a good way. The tension builds at a steady pace, keeping the interest high. The ending is satisfying, and while it doesn't end with a cliffhanger, it leaves plenty of room for a sequel, which I'd like to see. I didn't get as much witchiness as I expected, and a second book could fill out that part of the story nicely. A great book for when you want to get sucked in by spooky intrigue!
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A stunning debut novel, The Witch of Willow Hall and its characters will stay with you long after you have closed the book. This would be fantastic read for your book club. Full review will appear on Caffeinated Reviewer September 27th.
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Fox combines traditional historical romance with the paranormal in this engaging tale of love, witchcraft and ghosts. Lydia Montrose and her family flee Boston for their country home of Willow Hall in the wake of a scandal, but Willow Hall is a dark, haunted sort of place, engendering more heartbreak and tragedy for Lydia and her family. Lydia and her sister Catherine seek love and marriage as young ladies of the 19th century were expected to. Unlike most young ladies, Lydia struggles with the legacy of her power as a descendant of one of the Salem witches, a power she must learn to control and use if she is to save her family - and her love - from the encroaching darkness of the haunting spirits of Willow Hall. The historical details of life in 1821 Massachusetts mixed with the supernatural elements make this an appealing novel for fans of historical romance as well as fans of paranormal fiction. #TheWitchofWillowHall #NetGalley

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an egalley of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Amazing characters carry this book from beginning to end! It is a fascinating read that I kept picturing as a movie. It should be popular with a wide range of readers from middle school through adults.
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Fox hits the mark with her historical Gothic romance! The Witch of Willow Hall was a quick and compulsive read, a page turner that will keep you up all night!   The only problem was that it read like a first novel, and parts of the story felt hollow and weak.  It's definitely a diamond in the rough and I look forward to her next work.  Perfect for fans of Simone St James, Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, and Daphne Du Maurier.
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Moving to the countryside to escape an appalling scandal doesn't save the Montrose family from heartache and devastation.  Lydia Montrose does her best to keep the family peace by caring for her younger sister while also trying to save her family from her older sister's scandalous antics.  The family's new home seems to house a malevolent spirit that calls to Lydia and her younger sister and fighting it is proving exhausting.  
While trying to gain the good graces of their neighbors by hosting a town hall and party, the family suffers a horrible loss.  In that loss, Lydia discovers a power in her that is both frightening and alluring.  If Lydia isn't careful, she will lose not only those that she loves, but herself as well.  
A dark and troubling story of sibling rivalry that threatens to tear apart what little family they have left.  Richly told with twists and turns that will have you questioning your own sanity.
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