The Witch of Willow Hall

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 25 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

The Witch of Willow hall is a paranormal mystery with a hint of romance and a plot twist that took the book into interesting territory. An enjoyable example of modern literature with a Gothic twist, the protagonist Lydia is a witch who doesn't know that she's a witch. 

Living in isolation with her family after a scandal, Lydia is often overshadowed by her older, more beautiful sister. Her older sister, however, is hiding secrets and is not as charming as she appears at first glance. As strange things begin happening, Lydia has to come to terms with who and what she is and with the attention she receives from a broody hunk who has secrets of his own (which of course makes her older sister jealous). 

This was an enjoyable read, but may contain plot points that some readers may find objectionable.
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Loved this book, we need a sequel! The cover and title grab your attention, and the story line keeps you hooked.
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Great historical fantasy. I love books about witches and this one was a great read with a different twist on the tradition witch story.
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Did not finish it. Couldn't get into it or connect to the main character in any way. Maybe got about 50 pages in before stopping.
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The Witch of Willow Hall reads has all the flavor of a penny dreadful with half the calories. It is well written, enjoyable, and entertaining. I recommend this  book for people who are looking for a lighter than usual read.
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I received an ARC ecopy in exchange for an honest review.

I adore a good gothic tale but sadly do not read many these days. I will not lie when I saw that this was about a witch that is what drew me to this book. Yes, Lydia is a witch, but this story encompasses so much more than that. While we do have witchcraft and the paranormal throughout the story it is not the main focus. I think this is what really helped the story to capture my attention.

Lydia has to be one of my favorite characters this year by far. Her character was wonderfully written, and I found her story pulling me in more and more. Though her sister, Catherine, is one character I love to hate. I would have punched her but sadly that was frowned upon during this era (1821). I cannot really say more because I do not wish to spoil anything.

Let's not forget the touch of romance we get to witness as well. Honestly, I was not expecting it from this story but once I caught on I really enjoyed it. It was not this intense insta-love, but instead a simple grows bit-by-bit kind of romance.

Overall, I really loved this story. It was not what I expected but it did not disappoint. I look forward to seeing what Hester Fox creates next!
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This book fell flat for me.  I was expecting more of a gothic, witch story.  The pace was slow, and I really did not like the characters (especially Catherine).
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This book is fine. It's as if a regency romance writer attempted to write gothic fiction. A bit too tame for my creepy tastes, but not a bad read.
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I liked the storyline, but I thought the story could have been paced a little faster. That being said, I really liked the main characters and I liked the different relationships between the sisters.
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Thank you to netgalley for the release of the book for review. 

This book was right down my line! I love a book set in the 1800 and then throw in witches! Call my name please!

"A witch has a third eye that she may use to see the world not as it is, but as it may be. See what you want to see, bend the vision to your will."

I loved the world this book was set in. The plot was great and the story did not let me down. I hated I waited so long to read this but I actually forgot this book until I seen in my Kindle and said "OMG I have to read it now!"

I think every one should read this. 

The story is about Catherine and her mother lament this move, Emeline is too young to care about much except for the prospect of mermaids in a nearby pond. Lydia, having recently had her engagement broken off wants nothing more than to care for her younger sister and avoid any more scandal befalling her family. However, Lydia has past secrets buried deep within her that she must keep bottled up but that Willow Hall seems to want to bring to the surface.as the family settles into their new home strange happenings seem to follow in Lydia's wake. She hears the deep, painful wails of a woman in mourning, she sees pale-faced little boys roaming the grounds and their tinkling laughter fill the halls. As Lydia continues to ignore these signs, tragedy befalls the Montrose family and these dark secrets about her familial past come bubbling to the surface. 

Put this book on your TBR!
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The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

Genre:

Historical fiction; Paranormal

Pubbed:

2018

Quick summary:

Set in Massachusetts two centuries after the Salem Witch Trials, The Witch of Willow Hall is about the Montrose family, which relocates after a scandal in Boston involving one of its three daughters. 

My thoughts:

The premise sounded interesting, so I requested a copy to review. Though the story was interesting and had me a little curious because I wondered if something supernatural was involved, I eventually lost patience with the narrator and her sisters. I stopped reading when something happens to the youngest daughter. I don’t think I’ll return to it.

Do I recommend it?

Yes 

I think it’s probably a good story; I just didn’t have the patience to find out. It’s atmospheric and it immediately makes you curious about the girls and the family. If the premise sounds interesting to you, then I urge you to try it.
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First things first: This book contains creepy, supernatural elements, but at its core, it is a romance and family drama, with all that other stuff mixed in. I loved it, and romance with a touch of the otherworldly is a great combination when done correctly. And I think it was done correctly in this case.

The book begins in the mid-1800s, as the Montrose family moves to Willow Hall, in a quiet, out-of-the-way town after being chased from Boston by some rumors swirling around the family’s oldest daughter, Catherine. As the three daughters adjust to life in the town, weird things begin to happen, things that will change the family forever and shake it to its very core.

I really enjoyed the Pride & Prejudice-type feel of this book, it was a nice change of pace. But be warned: this is no Jane Austen novel. Some of the situations in the book are very....uh....dark. It’s quite a lot to take in at times. Austen with an edge - I loved it.

I also really enjoyed the characters in the book. There were clear heroes and heroines and villains. Sometimes its nice just to have things laid out for you like that - to see if good can triumph over evil, or will evil scheming win the day.

The supernatural elements were very interesting as well. I would have maybe liked a little bit more of it, but I can’t complain with the ghostly happenings. THey were suitably tragic and creepy and will make me think twice about being in a big house by myself.

Overall, if you’re a romance fan who enjoys a little bit of thrills and chills, you’ll love this book.
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This was a wonderfully haunting and spooky read that is perfect for Halloween! I loved the writing! Everything felt eerie and suspenseful. I loved how well written the characters were. Some characters I loved while others I found to be unlikable but I didn't mind. There is some romance and it was cute. If you want something spooky and suspenseful then this read will be perfect for you! You'll have a haunting good time reading it.
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I received an ARC of this from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I really wish I would have read this in the fall around Halloween because it would have been perfect. It's a period piece, a ghost story, and a romance all wrapped up in one.  There were some really interesting plot twists that I didn't necessarily see coming which is always a plus in my book. I got really wrapped up in the lives of the characters in that I have a burning hatred for Catherine, a soft spot for Mr. Barrett, and I adored Lydia (particularly when she developed a backbone). 

I really enjoyed it and I was completely satisfied with the ending. I would definitely read this author again.
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I have been picking up debut authors more and more this year! This one seemed like a perfect one to try because what’s better than a bit of a gothic romance about a Salem witch descendant to read before Halloween, am I right?

THE WITCH OF WILLOW HALL captivated me from the very start.  The Montrose family has moved away from Boston after an incestuous scandal ruined their standing in good society.  They are living on a property that their father bought from his business partner, Mr. Barrett, on Willow Hall.  Emeline is the youngest sister, Catherine is the oldest and the one always getting (herself and her family) in trouble.  And our heroine, Lydia, is the middle sister.  The one who has to deal with being the responsible mother to her younger sister when her mother can’t handle it.  The one that has to clean up after her older sisters mistakes.  The one used to not getting what she wants.  Except, for once, she wants something.  Someone.  But Willow Hall awakens something long dormant inside of her and she has to face the reality of her past and the heartbreak of her future.

Everything about this book set the perfect tone for what I was expecting.  It’s atmospheric, with brooding characters and even some morally questionable situations.  I found the author gave us the right amount of balance between developing the plot, the romance and the witchcraft elements.  Nothing ever felt overpowering the other and I thought they all worked quite nicely to just give this book an eerie, spooky vibe.  Not scary.

But I have to mention the romance because it’s so adorable!  I loved Mr. Barrett and how stuffy he can seem.  I love how Lydia is tentative around him.  They were so perfect together and I loved every interaction and how their bond grows throughout the story.

THE WITCH OF WILLOW HALL is a fantastic debut!  I can’t wait to see what Ms. Fox writes next.
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I love anything and everything witchy but was disappointment in the lack of magic.  There was also very little related to the Salem Witch Trials, which I had expected to see based on the books description. While I enjoyed the mix of fantasy, historical fiction, dark gothic, and romance, this book fell flat.  YA is saturated with witchy reads and this was a bland read that didn’t stand out.
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Fun! Very creepy and perfect for fall/winter.  The pages just flew by in this one; I knocked it out in just a few days!
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WHAT DID I THINK?
The Witch Of Willow Hall by Hester Fox tickles my need for creepy. I listened to this book in early December – instead of October. Still, it was a pretty decent time to give it a listen. When it is cold outside, I really enjoy books that are engrossing and that take me away to another time and place. This book is definitely an alternative history book. However, given that it is set in the past, I feel comfortable and happy putting it on this list.

So, this book, The Witch Of Willow Hall follows main character Lydia Montrose who moves with her family to Willow Hall following some scandal where they were living (involving her sister). Anyways, so Lydia is called by the hall. It is there that she discovers she may have powers. Meanwhile, the hall also has a negative call to her youngest sister, Emeline and well, the results are climatic. ALSO there’s a romance with this guy who is associated with the hall, John Barrett. It is absolutely the highlight of this book and they are a couple that I found myself actively rooting for.

On the whole, I can’t recommend The Witch Of Willow Hall by Hester Fox highly enough. It is so atmospheric. This book has really in depth characterization. Maybe the magic could have used more, but I liked being as in the dark as the characters. I think if you like Rebecca or Wuthering Heights, BUT WITH MAGIC, you would enjoy this book.

HOW’S THE NARRATION?
The audiobook is narrated by Lauren Ezzo who is new to me. She has a very gentle, old world sounding voice. Kind of like the opening of the first Lord of the Rings movie, if I remember correctly. I genuinely enjoyed listening to this book. I think that if you want a sort of quiet not loud in your face audiobook, this would be the one to pick up. The Witch Of Willow Hall is a great read no matter which form you decide to pick up.
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The Witch of Willow Hall is compelling and surprising, with a spookiness that caught me off guard.

The protagonist, Lydia, is a likeable character, and I enjoyed the witchy elements that she brought to the story. Catherine, the eldest sister, and foil for Lydia is a haughty, cruel person and reminded me a bit of Kate from East of Eden by John Steinbeck. (If you have never read East of Eden, Kate is the villain, and she is abhorrent.) Catherine’s motivation and actions, to me, where some of the most compelling in the story. Both Lydia and Catherine are developed in a way that the reader understands both why they are foils for each other and how their history has brought them to the point they are when the story begins.

Another strong point of the novel is the setting. Willow Hall is steeped in mystery and as Lydia is learning and discovering herself and her powers, Willow Hall provides a creepy, mysterious backdrop. The story is set in 1821 only a few years after the last of the Salem witch trial hangings, so that added an element of intrigue to the book.

I also enjoyed the love triangle that Lydia is involved in and observing Catherine’s coyness and cunning with the men in her life. The addition of the love stories gives the novel a bit of a traditional romance book feel, but because there are some heavier moments in the novel, the love component gives the reader something familiar to root for.

I have to say, though, I was SHOCKED by the scandal that forced the Montrose family to leave Boston. (I don’t put emojis in my blog, but geez, insert all the shocked-faced emojis here.) The scandal is pretty out there, at least for me. So, I did have a bit of a hard time getting past that. I definitely don’t think that it is a predictable twist, for better or worse.

Overall, I enjoyed this read especially for seasonal reading. There were parts that I felt were predictable (the love story–however it didn’t really take away from my enjoyment) and parts that I cringed a bit during–eek! (The scandal was disturbing for me. Period.) If you aren’t easily disturbed and like historical fiction with a bit of the supernatural. This is the book for you.
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**4.5-stars**

The setting and language of this novel are absolutely beautiful. I was surprised to learn this is a debut as the writing seems so experienced. I loved the gothic vibes that extend throughout the story. There is always an underlining feeling of menace just under the surface. In regards to witchcraft, it is subtle in nature, and I felt very well portrayed. It is by no means the bulk of the story but hints of it are sprinkled throughout with it becoming a more prominent feature in the second half.

The interactions between the sisters, particularly Catherine and Lydia, reminded me so much of Downton Abbey with Mary and Edith. It is not a warm and fuzzy sisterly relationship by any means and in fact, their constant battling provides most of the drama in the book.

There is also quite a bit of romance. I am so exhausted by the courtship patterns of this time period. I just cannot even imagine dealing with all that formality. No one ever seems to say what they feel! Honestly, it's a wonder anyone ended up with the person they wanted to be with!

Overall, I was very impressed with the book. It was a pleasure to read. All the drama, the overarching feeling of suspense, the subtle supernatural undertones, the hauntings, the domestic drama - soooo fun. I did take off a half a star just because there were moments where I felt the drama was repetitive and could have been shortened up a bit but that is very slight and 100% my opinion. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction, especially if you enjoy things with a gothic atmosphere.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Graydon House Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I very much appreciate the opportunity and and am kicking myself for not having picked this up in October as I had originally planned. I cannot wait to see what Ms. Fox comes up with next!
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