The Witch of Willow Hall

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 25 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

Perfect gothic tale of suspense and romance with supernatural elements . Lydia is the main character who is special but does not even know it .Due to a family scandal there is a move from Boston to a small town ..  .. This novel is creepy , suspenseful , romantic. Add some history from Salem witch trials and you have quite the page turner . Perfect for fans of Daphne Du Maurier . I enjoyed every second reading this unique novel
Was this review helpful?
A good suspense,mystery romance with twist.
Lydia a her family were outcast from Boston and went to live at Willow Hill.Lydia was different from sister but doesn't know why until she goes to Willow Hill.There she meet MR Barrett and a romance begins but will they get their happy ending. Things happens that but make it impossible.
Very good story.
Voluntarily reviewed.
Was this review helpful?
I LOVE witch-y books. I love the atmosphere of them. Especially when they make me feel like it’s an October night even when it’s actually July. The Witch of Willow Hall achieved this, but I don’t think it’s a book that will stick with me.

I quite enjoyed Lydia’s voice. She seemed to be fairly level headed, but I definitely would not have stuck by Catherine the way she did.. Catherine was awful and just got worse and worse. I’m pretty disappointed that she never got what she deserved. She’s lucky she has a sister that is as devoted to their family as Lydia is.

I really enjoyed the romance in this! There’s just something romantic about how courting and dating used to happen. I like Mr. Barrett a lot. Cyrus was awful, but I’m glad he was dealt with.

Emeline broke my heart. I didn’t expect what happened to happen, but after finishing the book I realized I really should have.

It was a bit of a slow burn, but I feel like it went with the tone of the book very well. I have found that lots of historical fiction books are slower than contemporaries and I usually end up enjoying it.

The only thing that really disappoints me about this novel is that it really didn’t have much witchcraft in it. Tons of ghosts, but very little practice.

The ending was kind of perfect, though. It wrapped everything up nicely, if not a little quickly.

The Witch of Willow Hall is a decent book, just not amazing. I feel like it’s going to be one of those books that I won’t be able to remember the names of the characters or the plot a year from now.
Was this review helpful?
Opening line:
"It was the Bishop boy who started it all." 

I was sucked right into this story from the beginning. Scandal, secrets, ghosts, oh my! I found myself reaching for my Kindle time and again because I wanted to know what came next. But now that I'm done reading it and there is a few hours behind me, I'm not sure what to think. 
First off, the writing is great. The author knows how to create tension and hooks that kept me engrossed. I skimmed a little bit in the middle but not much. The beginning drew me in and the end of the middle kept me reading.
Second off is everything else. The characters were developed to a certain point and then flat lined. There was one, scarce mentor for the main character and the mentor doesn't show up for a long time and then just says cryptic things to her. Her parents don't do anything throughout the book (except maybe one time), the oldest sister is a B and jilted love interest needed to MOVE ON. 
There were a LOT of secrets. Everyone had a secret (except maybe the dad but that character was never fleshed out). All the secrets were found out with lots of anger except one and that was "well here is my deep dark secret." "Okay. That's fine." I think the keeping and revealing of secrets were my biggest disappointment. "Oh yes, by the way, you are not normal but it's okay." "Good to know." There is one secret I found very distasteful and it bothered me through most of the book.
The ending was happy but a little abrupt. I did not get closure with at least three plot lines. 
All in all, if you like ghost stories and being kept up reading late into the night, you'll enjoy this book. I hope Ms. Fox writes more and more books and hones her talents even more. She has a bright future ahead of her!

For the sensitive reader: there are roughly 10 swear words, ghosts, drowning, death, kissing passionately, suggestions of sexual romps, unwanted pregnancy, and incest.

Thanks to netgalley for the early read.
Was this review helpful?
The darker parts of this tale are hinted at repeatedly but not fully revealed until the second half of the book. Until then, we are left wondering what shadow hangs over this formerly-fortunate family. And what might save any of the members from some dark fate? Yet, it’s not a grim tale at all. Part historic fiction, part witchy-tale, part romance, there’s something here for almost every reader, if any of this falls in your wheelhouse. Author Hester Fox handles the time period well and her characters are engaging. This book is a quick read because it’s difficult to stop reading once you start.
Was this review helpful?
This book had me at “witch”. 

From the moment I got it I couldn’t put it down. I wanted nothing more than to stay up too late surrounded by its ghosts and promises of revealed secrets. 

At first I found the characters a bit clichéd. The protagonist is a little too good. The older sister is a vain, self-centered, bully. The younger sister is an annoying, yet endearing, 8-year-old. John is the classic stoic knight. The ghost is, well... why is there a ghost?

Then there is the tragedy. Oh the tragedy!

Then the scandal is revealed. Oh the scandal!!

It is positively bewitching. 

Haunting, compelling, and deeply gratifying, this is the perfect read for early fall when nights come earlier and cool breezes hint at a chill soon to come…

Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.
Was this review helpful?
Set in the 1800s, this modern take on the Gothic novel was a page turner. Lydia Montrose and her family leave Boston under a cloud of scandal. They take up residence in a small town where Mr. Monstrose is looking to build a mill in partnership with young Mr. Barrett.. Lydia, a kind and compassionate young woman is caught between her responsibilities to protect her family, especially sister Catherine and her  new found love for. Mr. John Barrett. Tragedies ensue, misunderstandings, threat of exposure to more public scandal over Catherine’s behavior in Boston, and a great dollop of witchcraft, a satisfying read all in all. My one criticism is the plot device removing Catherine from the local scene at the end. The solution the author provides to the problem of this character’s place in the family and society would certainly never have happened in that time unless she were to descend to life of the street and this novel didn’t set up that particular scenario.
Was this review helpful?
The Witch of Willow Hall was not so much a book about magic or witchcraft as it was about ghosts and sisters.  The story opens early in the 1800s on the Montrose sisters and their mother as they are moving into Willow Hall.  They are joining their father there as they fled from scandal in Boston.  Their brother Charles isn't with them, and we're not sure where he is or why he's not with the family.  The scandal involved Catherine, the eldest, and her improper behavior.  Lydia tells the story and takes care of the youngest sister, Emeline, as the mother is unwell thanks to the stress of the scandal and the ultimate move to the country.  Willow Hall is a lovely, large house on a sprawling bit of property that includes the titular willow tree and a small pond.  Emeline immediately wants to visit the pond and talk to the mermaids she is sure live just below the surface.  The girls fair pretty well considering what they left behind, until a quick trip to town uncovers rumors about ghosts inhabiting the house.  Emeline's dog, Snip, runs off and its while searching for him that Lydia meets John Barrett, their neighbor and their father's business partner.  What follows is a tale of devastating tragedy and secrets come to light.  As Lydia grows closer to Mr. Barrett she learns more about the past, herself, and her relationship to her family.  This was a great ghost story, well told and easy to read.  The Witch of Willow Hall is , not as fast paced or suspenseful as many I've ready but enjoyable nonetheless.  Its refreshing to read a book that is well written and doesn't rely on shocking gore or violence to tell a story.
Was this review helpful?
I love a good scary story set in a spooky haunted house, so I was very much looking forward to this book. Unfortunately there were too many things going on throughout the story and it bogged the narrative down. Witchcraft, ghosts, romance, incest, a pregnancy from that incest...it was too much. I think had the author chosen one or two to focus on rather than throwing them all together the book would have been more cohesive. None of it was BAD, exactly, it just didn't all fit together. Almost like certain plot lines should have been an entirely separate novel. As a result I never really felt any connection to any of the characters. I was disappointed.
Was this review helpful?
Lydia and her family have moved to Willow Hall after leaving Boston due to a family scandal. Lydia tries to forget the past, but she will soon discover that the past cannot be ignored, because secrets hold a power all their own, and they can’t be silenced forever.

The cover grabbed my attention, as did the description. However, the story just didn’t match up with my expectations. The ghost/witchcraft/creepy house angle was somewhat interesting, but there wasn’t a lot of tension or drama. Sadly, there wasn’t a lot of character growth, either. The story was very slow, particularly at the beginning, and it was really hard for me to stay engaged, even though things picked up a bit as the story unfolded. Catherine is a large part of the story, and I found it difficult to like or care about her. Some parts seem a bit too modern for a story taking place in the 1800s, and the latter half of the book is predictable. Based on the cover and description, I was expecting more creepiness, especially as the book releases in October. It fell a bit flat for me, however. 

This review was posted on Goodreads, and I'll post on Amazon after the book is released.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from NetGalley, but I wasn’t required to leave a positive review.
Was this review helpful?
This book started out slow but left little tidbits that kept me reading. I LOVED the ending and the journey that Lydia goes on to discover who she truly is.
Was this review helpful?
I became quickly engrossed in the story Fox weaved. The twisted, gothic storytelling just sucks the reader in and makes it difficult to put this book down. I do have a problem with some of the chosen language because it seemed out of place for the time period/setting; I also felt the story seemed a tad bit rushed at the end. Overall, though, an interesting story that I would recommend to others inclined to enjoy romance/ classic gothic style fiction.

Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher for an electronic ARC of this work m, which I received in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
The Witch of Willow Hall was a wonderful story. It reminded me a little of Pride and Prejudice. I haven't read anything in the style of  this era in a long time. Hester Fox does a beautiful job of weaving this romantic tale with a touch of mystery. Lydia is the main character and she is constantly in turmoil over something or another. Catherine is a very complex character with her own reasons for the things she does. She spends too much time worrying about what she does not have to see what she could have. The two sisters' constant animosity toward each other becomes more clear at the end. This was a great story for any fan of the Elizabethan era.
Was this review helpful?
I do love a good book about a quiet girl living in a haunted house, so naturally I was drawn to Hester Fox’s new book The Witch of Willow Hall.  Lydia (our quiet and reflective protagonist) moves from Boston to the remote hamlet of New Oldham after an unexplained scandal prompts the family to flee from their family home. 

The nature of the scandal is not revealed, but a sense of general unrest seems to follow the family to their new home in Willow Hall.  Lydia in particular is sensitive to disturbances of a peculiar nature, which in time reveal new insights regarding her own special abilities. 

As time crawls by in New Oldham, family members grow more restless or withdrawn.  Sisterly rivalries and disagreements disturb what little peace Willow Hall offers the Montrose clan, until at last the house gives teeth to its sinister nature when a terrible accident befalls a member of the household.

Hester Fox paints Willow Hall and New Oldham with a lovely dismal patina.  I felt a plodding sense of despair as Lydia and her sisters endured both tedium and terror.  The author also offers an ensemble of well-crafted characters, each of whom seeks to free himself from his own private trap.  Ms. Fox does well to communicate a distinct sense of longing - for attention lost, for a lover, for a former life. The Witch of Willow Hall is part ghost story, part family drama, and part old-fashioned romance.  And in the end, our quiet girl finds the right words after all.
Was this review helpful?
I made it 35% of the way through this book and just couldn't finish.  Made no connection with characters or story.
Was this review helpful?
This book caught my eye immediately on Netgalley because I love witches and the 1800's.  The cover was so beautiful, I had to see what it was holding on the inside.  With Fox's writing, I was immediately transported to the world of Lydia and her family.  The dark, creepy, and Gothic atmosphere of this novel is perfection.  In fact, the atmosphere was my favorite thing about this book.  I also really liked the characters.  They were multi-dimensional and their relationships were so interesting and complicated, especially the relationship between Lydia and her sister, Catherine.  While I really liked and rooted for Lydia, Catherine was the most interesting character and I only wish we could have learned more about her.  The novel starts out with a secret scandal involving Catherine, which sets the mood for the rest of the story, and keeps you guessing as to what she could have done that was so disgraceful.  Their sisterly relationship is full of toxicity, and yet Lydia still feels a sense of duty to her blood.  The plot almost felt secondary to the characters and atmosphere.  It was pretty slow moving, and I expected there to be a lot more magic and supernatural elements.  We don't really get to see much of Lydia's abilities until the second half, and up until then there isn't that much action.  There was a lot of build up, and I didn't think the release at the end was big enough after how long we had waited.  I wanted more excitement and more magic.  The love story was sweet, and I thought the pace of it worked really well.  There were a couple plot twists and elements that I really enjoyed, but all of them seemed small and I wish we would have had a grander plot to go with the incredible atmosphere and intriguing characters.
Was this review helpful?
Thoroughly enjoyable Gothic rich in atmosphere and foreboding and dark family secrets. Definitely my cup of laudanum-spiked tea!
Was this review helpful?
A wonderful tale, woven together masterfully by Hester Fox. The tale follows Lydia Montrose, a young woman at the beginning of the 19th century, as her family moves from Boston to a country home in Massachusetts. Scandal follows them and causes many interesting turns in the story, and wonderfully developed characters. I was loathe to read something that sounded fairly benign, but the writing was wonderful, the story was amazingly thought up and the characters were multi-faceted and interesting. At times a ghost story, a historical fiction novel, a romance and a thriller, this is a wonderful book for fall and the lead up to Halloween. 
If you enjoy Philippa Gregory, you will love this!
Was this review helpful?
Lydia’s life is not easy. outshined by her beautiful and boisterous older sister, she has taken on the role of dutiful daughter. When her family is driven out of Boston by terrible rumors, the family moves to their summer home upstate. But the house is haunted by a terrible past, and Lydia’s powers as a witch finally come out. As she struggles to find out who and what she is, her family is struck by tragedy. Her ex-fiancé from Boston tries to blackmail her into marrying him so he can have access to her money, and her father’s handsome business partner one day seems interested in her and is cold the next. Lydia must come to terms with what she is before she can save herself and her family.
Was this review helpful?
I do enjoy a good scary read. So when I read this tagline for the book, I dove in: " Two centuries after the Salem witch trials, there’s still one witch left in Massachusetts. But she doesn’t even know it."

The Witch of Willow Hall novel is set in New Oldbury, Massachusetts. The odd name kind of makes sense, as the book's time setting seemed pretty nebulous. Part of the setting did seem 19th century, but much of the action came across as decidedly modern (young Lydia meeting alone often with her "gentleman friends," one character saying he shouldn't have "lost my cool," etc).

I had to cringe when the final sentence had the happy couple walking back to Willow Hall "and the future that 'lays' beyond." One reviewer said it well: "The Witch of Willow Hall is just a creepy book about boy drama and some serious family issues." Ha -- I would not disagree with that.

Now, don't let me put you off from reading this book if you think it would appeal to you, as most reviewers really enjoyed it. Maybe my tastes are just a bit too literary (that's happened before). I liked this description, near the book's beginning: "Not just the house, but the ancient trees, the watching insects, the stars and even the moon. But they have all lived without us for lifetimes that make our own look like the blink of the eye." Nice.

The story itself is of the Montrose family, and particularly its three daughters: Catherine, Lydia, and Emmeline. The family has been involved in some vaguely-alluded-to scandal and has been forced to move to Willow Hall. From there, things start getting strange. The author effectively uses cliffhangers and suspense, and I did read this book fairly quickly. There were several twists, which I also liked and which I usually didn't see coming. In short, overall the book kept me entertained. The writing wasn't anything special for the most part, and a few of the characters (especially Catherine) were so mean and stereotypically evil that they didn't seem very real, but perhaps the author was going for a type of fairy tale feel with the book.

Do you enjoy a romantic tale with some suspense and a scary theme? If so, The Witch of Willow Hall may be just the book for you.

**Thanks NetGalley for a review copy.
Was this review helpful?