The Witch of Willow Hall

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 25 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

This was such a fun book. The only criticism I have is of the second sentence in the book. “He lived one house over, with his snub nose and dusting of freckles....” What? He lived in the house with his snub nose? Not his parents or siblings.... Anyway, I am nitpicking, perhaps. But this just doesn’t sound right. I almost “put the book away,” - not that I put my Kindle away... - but I love historical mysteries (gothic, especially - I have never quite recovered from the death of my favorite brain candy writer from teen + decades - Victoria Holt (Eleanor Hibbert), so I read on. And I am glad I did. This is a fascinating story, very well written, and well researched. I literally could not put it down. The author keeps you in suspense regarding the ill fortune that has befallen Lydia - our protagonist - and her family, but chapter by chapter one begins to suspect why the family has had to flee Boston - as soon as I saw that “Charles and Catherine were joi....” OK. That would be telling too much. Trust me, however, if you like historical fiction with female protagonists, you will like this book. No review is complete without mentioning the author, of course. I, however, could find very little information about this talented young author, Hester Fox, except the little information on her web page: “Hester works in the museum field as a collections maintenance technician. This job has taken her from historic houses to fine art museums, where she has the privilege of cleaning and caring for collections that range from paintings by old masters, to ancient artifacts, to early American furniture. She has a master’s degree in historical archaeology, as well as a background in Medieval studies and art history. Hester lives outside of Boston with her husband..”
So, dear Ms Fox, I am very much looking forward to reading your writings in the future. Congratulations on this excellent book.
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The book pulls you in from the beginning with many twists and turns.  I didn't want to put it down, and could not wait to see what was going to happen next. I'm hoping for a sequel.
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The Witch of Willow Hall
Hester Fox
I received this copy from NetGalley for an honest Review:
It seems like it has been forever since I read a good old-fashioned Ghost Story, and that is what TWofWH was to me. The story centers around the Montrose family and their daughters. The family leaves Boston, in the year1821, because of a scandal and moves to Willow Hall. There, the daughters try to cope with the move and the reasons behind it. Catherine, Lydia & Emeline are not happy about the move but are willing to cope because of their frail mother.

The relationship between Lyd & Catherine is not loving and they have many trials to cope with. Lydia has inherited 'strange' powers from her great-great aunt who was hanged for being a witch in Salem, but she is unaware of what they are and has had no help from her mother to  understand how to use them. Catherine has a secret and needs to marry, Lydia feels strong feelings that she has never felt before and isn't sure how to handle them...Enter 2 handsome men who befriend the Montrose girls; Enter a couple of ghosts who keep Lydia up at night, a strange pond where deadly things happen, and the house's history of tragedy. 

Old time gossip, and tragedies of their own, the girls try to cope in their new world all while looking for solutions to their problems and love.

A very good story. Good character development, great atmosphere, and a love story all set among the ghosts & The Witch of Willow Hall.
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The first half of this book earns four stars. The second half gets three. 

This book hooked me from the beginning. I was eager to learn about about this wealthy Boston family haunted by rumors and other sinister things. The limits placed on women during the time period also added to the tensions in the story. 

So it starts off dark, which I liked. It reminded me of Shirley Jackson and V. C. Andrews. I enjoy the macabre, as long as it's not too messed up. But around the middle of the book, it starts to lighten up and a little bit of romance is introduced. Romance isn't a bad thing, but I wished it had been woven into the dark threads of this story a little better. I was hoping for some tortured heroes/heroines or evil forces threatening to tear them apart. It ended up not being that dramatic. 

Oh, well. Still a good book and a great debut for the author. 

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book.
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Lydia and her family have just fled from Boston, leaving behind a scandal. As she and her family settle into the town of New Oldbury, she tries her best to forget what has happened and focus on her adored little sister Emeline. However, it seems that history cannot be buried or ignored and will soon be knocking at the door.

To be honest, at first, I wasn't sure what to think of this book. I read the first 50 pages or so and felt kind of 'meh' about it. It wasn't horrible, but it was so slow. However, I do have a fond attachment to witchy historical fiction novels, so I continued on. And I'm very glad I did; the plot picks up around page 100 or so and then it's a pleasant (if bit over-dramatic) read to the end.

I couldn't help but feel Fox invoking the spirits of the Bronte sisters and other Gothic writers. This book has that eerie feeling. Fox also does a great job at keeping to the norms of their time. While Lydia is a bit headstrong, it's a believable headstrong. She does as her parents bid her and she tries her best to follow the rules of society.

There is a lot going on plot-wise in the book, which I don't want to get into because of spoilers. However, it all resolves itself at a good pace. Lydia is a likable protagonist, and I found myself cheering when something good happened to her and cursing at her when she did something dumb.

Overall, a great read which I do recommend, especially if you're in the mood for a good women-discovering-herself book,
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This book was romantic and good while also maintaining a creepy dark vibe. I liked Lydia very much. I found her to be relatable and down to earth. I enjoyed this book and I will read this author again for sure.
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