Cover Image: The Witch of Willow Hall

The Witch of Willow Hall

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Member Reviews

The Witch of Willow Hall is set in Massachusetts in the year 1821 and follows the Montrose family as they flee scandal in Boston and settle in New Oldbury.   Told through Lydia’s eyes, the considerable drama centers on the three daughters—Catherine, Lydia, and Emeline.  Catherine, the cause of the scandal, is self-centered and petty.  The youngest, Emeline, is adventurous and adores Lydia, a naïve bookworm.  Enter Mr. Barrett, Mr. Montrose new business partner, and his friend Mr. Pierce and the drama amps up quite a bit.  Add to that ghosts, witchcraft, a heartbreaking tragedy, and a splash of creepiness and you’ve got a gothic romance in your hands.  
Despite the gothic elements, this is a quick and easy read.  Wide brush strokes are used to tell this tale, not intimate or gory detail.  It leaves much to your imagination.  It was more romance than I was expecting.  I thought the witchcraft would have played a bigger role since the gothic-ness of the novel is the focus of the blurb.   Perhaps, this is only the first novel in a planned series.
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I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed this book. I'm not much of a reviewer, but it you enjoy mysteries, light romance, and a little paranormal mixed in, I have a feeling you'll enjoy this as much as I did.
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Set in New England in the 1800s, a family is forced to relocate from Boston after a horrible scandal involving the oldest daughter. We don't find out what the scandal is until the second half of the story and it's a bit of a surprise and more than a little disconcerting. Could be off-putting to some readers. The book also includes a mish mash of themes such as ghosts, witches, incest, romance, and family dysfunction.   I was surprised at how little the story focused on witchcraft since the word "witch" is in the title.
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Well written with a strong sense of time and place - those who enjoy historical fiction with a touch of magic will certainly enjoy this book.  Characters are well crafted and the storyline pulls you right in.  A thoroughly enjoyable read!
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I was expecting a story with spookiness, thrills and mystery...this book delivered! I devoured this book in 2 days. The story kept me guessing the whole way through. I was never sure if I was reading a ghost story, family drama or romance. I would recommend this book.
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Hester Fox’s The Witch of Willow Begins with a fight in 1811 between Lydia Montrose and a young boy that killed her kitten. Ten years later the Montrose family is shunned in Boston society due to a scandal and have moved to a small town. Catherine, Lydia and Emeline navigate their new living arrangements and meet local young men. The three sisters are drawn with their own unique qualities. They hold the novel together when the other parts fail to work. I want to like this novel for the characters sake but it lacks something. The sisters are the most complete part of this book.
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I gave up on this book about halfway through it. I thought there would be some mystery or thrills. Instead it focused on a family trying to escape rumors that would tarnish their name.
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This book was not my cup of tea, although I know it has proved very popular for most readers. I am not a fan of the dark, Gothic novel, the action was a little slow for me and I wanted to read more about the witchiness!
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I thought the premise of this book was excellent, but there were so many plot points, I thought it could have been longer. I have read a lot of historical fiction, and rarely come across novels from this time period in America. The dynamics between the family members were very interesting, and I loved the blooming relationship between Lydia and John. 

I felt that there could have been more about Lydia being a witch. it seems like that idea isn't quite sussed out all the way. The goings on of the family, and her and John's love story are enough, though.
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This book was dark and gloomy and even very sad at times. It had a slow moving plot, but as it progressed the intrigue and mystery increased and before long I could not put it down. I had to know what was going to happen next. I was enthralled. I was captivated by Lydia and all she was going through. I felt so deeply for her character. This is a book that forces the reader to feel. The reader will gradually realize that they are invested in what is occurring. I laughed with Lydia and I cried with her. I was shocked with her and at times I was angry for her. Yes this book has witchcraft in it, but the book does not revolve around the witchcraft. The family scandal is more center to the storyline, and what a scandal it was. This book is not for the younger reader, it is for a more mature, older audience, however it is a great read. Differnt from my usual, but as this author's debut novel she should be proud. I look forward to reading more from Hester Fox.
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First line: It was the Bishop boy who started it all.

Summary: After a scandal touched the lives of the Montrose family, they decided to move to a small community, New Oldbury. Sisters, Lydia, Catherine and Emeline, try to enjoy life in their new home of Willow Hall but it appears that sometimes you cannot escape your past. However, when spooky things begin to happen, middle sister, Lydia, starts to wonder if there is something about her that is different and maybe linked to their ancestor, a victim of the Salem Witch Trials.

Highlights: I was immediately drawn to this book when I saw that it was recommended for fan of Deborah Harkness. I love her trilogy. The cover is beautiful and the description sounded very enticing. I liked the spooky elements but there was not much of it. Sadly.

Lowlights: I felt like this was misbranded. It felt more like a historical romance than a gothic novel. There was a little bit of hinting at a paranormal theme but this did not develop until the last third of the book. More emphasis was placed on the sister’s relationship and the scandal that rocked their family. I just felt that this book fell flat and was too long. It could have been half the length and done a better job.

FYI: Has disturbing scenes including miscarriage and incest.
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When scandal forces Lydia’s family from the bustling streets of Boston to Willow Hall she cannot find out what she should be or what it means for her or her future.  Willow Hall has a dark past, is  haunted by ghosts, old secrets, and new ones as well.  When tragedy strikes Lydia finds herself embracing the power.  When another shadow of her past returns Lydia has to find her strength to fight for her future.  She is the type of hero I like, her actions are sensible, she is sensible, I never have to question her actions because she makes sense.  Twisty, magical, and interesting.
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Once you receive this book, don't make any plans because you won't be able to stop reading until the very last page. This story has everything you ever wanted in a book: mystery, intrigue, romance, and lots of secrets. The main characters are three sisters who are different in every way. One is promiscuous and mean, one is young and sweet, and one holds many secrets. Just how deep does their loyalty to each other lie?  I have already recommended this intriguing story to several people and they were not disappointed.
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Hester Fox weaves a suspenseful tale of how a young girl maneuvers family dynamics, personal relationships, and learning about her true self.  1800s Massachusetts sets the stage for scandal, romance, and self-discovery. I enjoyed this book a great deal! At one point I just had to keep reading to find out how it all unfolds! I found myself rooting for some characters, and hoping the villains get what they have coming. 

A great Fall read  to get you in the Halloween spirit.
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Massachusetts – 1811 and 1821

Lydia Montrose has always known that one of her ancestors was hanged as a witch, but she’s never pursued that story. She is also aware that something she did to the neighborhood bully in Boston when she was a small child has not been spoken of since. Now the family is leaving Boston and retreating to Willow Hall, the house her father built in the tiny hamlet of New Oldbury due to rumors about her older sister. Lydia is about to discover that there is something mysterious and confusing about herself, and possibly other members of her family.

Older sister, Catherine, is a shallow, self-centered beauty who is furious about leaving a bustling city for the backwater of New Oldbury. But there are two men who she can flirt with, while she works to hide a terrible secret that even her family can’t believe. Lydia is usually the brunt of Catherine’s foul temper, but she has learned to avoid confrontations, and, instead, to devote herself to caring for their younger sister, Emaline. For Lydia, the quiet seclusion of their new home comes with strange sights and feelings that she is reluctant to reveal to her parents. Emaline claims to see a little boy at the pond in the woods, while Lydia senses a foreboding presence in the newly built house that her father is so proud of.

The move to New Oldbury hinged on Lydia’s father going into the mill business with a local resident, John Barrett. It is Barrett and new friend, August Pierce, who are targeted by Catherine. Lydia knows that her older sister is desperate to marry and escape the boredom of Willow Hall. But she is stunned to discover why. It was Lydia who was engaged in Boston to a family acquaintance but because of the rumors, the marriage was aborted.

THE WITCH OF WILLOW HALL is a page-turning, mind-blowing tale told by Lydia. Nothing seems to please her older sister, her younger sister is in constant trouble, and Lydia has resigned herself to being an old maid who devotes herself to her parents, her books, and her herb garden. But Willow Hall will not allow Lydia to fade into the woodwork. Something, or someone, has made the Montroses' new home anything but peaceful. And Lydia must discover the hard way, just who she truly is.

Wow! What a fascinating, gripping novel. Beautifully written with amazing characters  and an even more amazing premise, this tale is terrific. I promise readers that THE WITCH OF WILLOW HALL will entertain you from page one.
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The Witch Of Willow Hall by Hester Fox will be released October 2nd, 2018 and is an absolute treasure of a novel! This one is definitely my top book pick of the year. There is no doubt that the suspense, mystery, romance, horror, and all the above has earned it a 5 Star Review!

Hester Fox weaved an impeccable story that had strong, vibrant, and palatable characters. I am unsure where authors get such a talent for creating complicated and unique people. The Witch of Willow Hall easily masters this. I fell in love right away with Lydia. This was instant. She is everything I could ask for as a main character. Lydia is smart, morale, and an awesome human being. The girl’s caretaker nature and need to take care of her family is something I can particularly relate with in my own experiences.

The other characters are easy enough to understand and Fox did a terrific job with their personalities and making the reader feel like they have known everyone for years. This book was like finding an old friend. John, who is Lydia’s love interest is just the person you want to see. I know Lydia and John would disagree with me, but they are definition of what a healthy relationship should look like despite all the oddities that arise. I felt happy and good about their pairing up as a couple.

The book is filled with some supernatural occurrences and magic but everything is shrouded in mystery. This left me in utter suspense as more and more became revealed. Honestly, the whole time I was bouncing off my seat anticipating what was going to happen next. The scenes are fast paced and the shock factor never ending. I would have to go back and reread scenes just to make sure I had read them right because the disbelief of what was happening was strong.

There was one scene in particular that made me want to throw my tablet across the room and scream how dare the author do this to me! It made me want to cry. I feel like I shouldn’t say more than this because it would be an epic spoiler and not in a good way. There is just a very emotional and tragic part of the story that just tugged my heart strings because by the time I got to this part. I loved the characters and their pain felt real.

This is a book that everybody needs to pick up. I wish the author would write a sequel. There is more than enough story left to be told. The ending was quite satisfying but I am not going to lie. I want more!
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*Thank you Net Galley for the opportunity to read this title in exchange for my honest review.
Ms. Fox's debut novel will be appreciated by readers who enjoyed "Rebecca" and "The Little Stranger", as the gothic/ghost elements take center stage. I felt the story could have used some editing. I appreciated the slow reveal of the Montrose family details, but the romantic interference became redundant and slightly frustrating. The lengthy plot and character development allowed me to figure out what was coming at nearly every reveal. I do look forward to reading more books written by this author.
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This story has an interesting premise that is hinted at early in the book and then barely suggested for most of the remainder.   It isn't until the last quarter of the novel that Lydia discovers her heritage and takes over the story.  Up until that time  Catherine, the older sister, is the main focus.  Her scandalous behavior is in danger of ruining her family completely.  Lydia tries to hold things together until it threatens to rip her from the man she loves.
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WARNING: this book will ruin all other books in your TBR pile! (And I mean that in the most complimentary way.) 

I DEVOURED this book. Seriously, I haven't finished anything this quickly in a long time (less than two days). It was absolutely perfect. The gothic overtones, romantic language, and well-paced suspense were enough to keep me up late, frantically trying to figure out what would happen with the handsome Mr. Barrett, or how Catherine's dark secret would be outed. The cryptic warnings, the spooky visitors, Lydia's dormant abilities... everything was just perfect. Definitely the most enjoyable book I've read all year. I can't wait to buy a physical copy!
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While I am an avid reader of historical fiction and a sucker for sappy onscreen romance, I don’t often combine the two and read historical romances. Given how much I enjoyed The Witch of Willow Hall, I may have to revise my stance. 

The story started a little slowly, but I was stuck on an airplane, so it was easy to stick with it and see what would happen. 

And magic happened. All my doubts evaporated and I was a bit saddened when my flight ended and I had to put down this book for a few hours. 

I love books about magic and witches and craft, and while witchcraft is a very integral part of the plot, it is not the main focus of the story. 

Love of all kinds, but most of all romantic love, is the whole point of the story, and the book is full of strong, detailed, well written characters that make it a page turner. I read plenty of books in which I care about maybe one or two characters, and kind of tolerate the rest, who seem to be there for filler. This was not one of those books. I had complicated feelings about most of the cast, and truly fell for the protagonists. 

There is plenty of tension and drama throughout, both of which keep the readers’ interest all the way until the end. I particularly liked that while I had an idea of what I wanted to happen in the end, I couldn’t predict how exactly everything would come together. 

I was taken by the narrative voice, and found it to be mostly historically accurate, at least from a layperson’s point of view. 

Given that this is Hester Fox’s debut novel, I cannot wait to see what she writes next. 

The Witch of Willow Hall is a solid 4.5 stars out of 5. 

I was given an ARC of this book by Graydon House in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine alone. 

Pick up the Witch of Willow Hall on October 2, 2018. 

I will be posting this review to my blog and goodreads on September 2nd, and Amazon on the release date. 

Thank you for the opportunity to review this book!
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