The Witch of Willow Hall

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 25 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

I was really excited for this book, I believe I read it around Halloween time when I was customizing my reading list for the month around witches, goblins, and ghouls. It was the perfect page turning fit. It was a great addition to the gothic romance section of my reading that I had badly neglected. I think this was a perfect break out book for the author and I can't wait to read more by her. This wasn't a spooky read, it was more creepy, which was perfect. I am a huge scaredy cat so anything to spooky tends to put me off but this one had just the right amount of creep to make it entertaining for my taste preferences.
Was this review helpful?
It starts off slow and kind of dense, but once the action begins, it's hard to resist the story as it drives forward. It reads as a true epic, one that makes you feel the world really has been reshaped as you read it. Would recommend.
Was this review helpful?
→ What I Liked:

The Romance
I enjoyed the connection between the main character, Lydia, and her love interest. Their interactions were by far my favorite to read and the romance was really what kept me going through this. I really wanted to know how things came together (or didn’t) for the two of them.

The Readability
While it took some time to gain my interest, this took on an unputdownable quality for me. It really turned into quite the page turner and I read the entire second half of the book in one sitting.

→ What I Didn’t Like:

The Characters
Besides Lydia and, to some extent, her love interest, there wasn’t much depth among the characters. They all felt quite one-dimensional and were defined by one or two qualities that didn’t really change. I also hated the way the older sister Catherine was written -- she was a stereotypical catty teenage girl whose only purpose was to cause strife. I’ve been over characterizations like these for a while now.

The Lack of Subtlety
I was literally rolling my eyes at the beginning of this with how hard it was hitting me over the head with the witch stuff. There were plenty of “hints” about Lydia’s true nature, but they were so blatant that they may as well have been screaming off the page. It really drew from the story itself for me.

The Ending
There was so much stuffed into this ending that it felt very rushed to me. A lot of it just felt so very… convenient. And the focus was so much on the romance and so little on the witchcraft that I was left dissatisfied and with very many questions. I want a sequel to learn more about Lydia’s abilities and family history, but felt like the way this ended didn’t leave much room for that.

→ TL;DR:
~Romance was enjoyable
~Side characters needed work
~Lots of eyerolls
~Ending was too rushed
~Would recommend, but think of this more as a YA romance with paranormal elements than a fantasy or horror with romance on the side
~Will pick up Hester Fox's next book
Was this review helpful?
This was a really well-written book, and I greatly enjoyed reading it. Gothic and fast-paced, it was a welcome read after a few disappointing reads.
Was this review helpful?
I can honestly say that this book surprised me. When I first started reading it, I felt somewhat bored and thought I wouldn't finish it. I am glad that I put it down and came back to it later in the day because once I started reading it again I couldn't put it down. The storyline flows ever so smoothly and the characters are beautiful though I must say that Catherine left a bad taste in my mouth. In reading this I was left with the desire to roam freely within Willow Hall and the grounds. I grew rather fond of Lydia and John and I hope that the author will continue their story.
Was this review helpful?
I picked up this book thinking I was in for a fun romance and a quick read. While it's a simply written book, it's far deeper than I expected. While there is romance, this is so much more. It's a lovely historical tale of women empowerment and the lengths a person would go to protect the people they love. It was just a little spooky which was nice (spookier would have been fine but it's just enough I can recommend it to my less brave friends). 
I really enjoyed this book. I will say that it has some slight issues but nothing that ruined the book.
Was this review helpful?
I got the ARC for this book back in September. In my earlier posts I had mentioned that I was suffering from a major slump in the summer and the entire month of September therefore, I never really grabbed it until very recently when I purchased the audiobook version of the book.

Let me tell you, it was perfect. This book was so atmospheric and haunting, it is the perfect read/listen for a fall/wintertime. I loved the subtle mentions of witch craft, the historical aspect that the book had and all the emotions. The narrator did an amazing job portraying the feelings of the characters. From Katherine’s despair all the way to Lydia’s pain of loss. I grinned and cringed and cried right alongside these characters.

The Witch of Willow Hall also had the charm and mystery of a small town with its dark secrets. I loved the history/story behind Willow Hall house and Lydia finally giving into her magic and learning of her ancestors.

There were a few characters that I wanted to punch the lights out of, but each of these characters got what they deserved and that satisfied me.

My only regret about this book is, the fact that I didn’t start it sooner. This would have been a perfect read for October with all its spooky ghosts and creepy history.

This was a 5 star read/listen for me. I totally recommend it to everyone who loves a good, subtle witchy book with elements of ghosts and secrets.
Was this review helpful?
I really tried to get into this book for months, but it just seemed like something was missing. I didn't much care for the "mysterious handsome suitor". I just wanted to read about a witch doing witchy things. 

I think I will re-try this book in the future, but for now I am giving it 3 stars because despite it not being my cup of tea, it was very well written.
Was this review helpful?
Honest truth, I went into this book expecting many spooks and scares, but instead The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox gave me all the feels. With a heroine stuck living an Austen life with a sibling determined to live her best Bronte, this was a very enjoyable historical fiction novel with bits of paranormal and hints of regency romance.

Three sisters and a terrible rumor or secret driving them out of society, breaking up engagements, and forcing a brother oversea — this is what we’re told from the start. The secret? It’s one that takes quite some time to get to and, by the time it comes around, it feels a little out of place or lackluster. There was no build-up to it and it seemed like it was merely an afterthought to move the family to Willow Hall and have it fit American Gothic conventions. That said, I did love the secret and the story! I think that must be why I felt disappointed by it. So much more could have been done with it, yet it ends up being simply there as a prop to instigate angst between Lydia and Darcy stand-in, John Barrett.

Apart from the angst-inducing secret, there isn’t much else to discuss about The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox. It’s a good historical American Gothic novel looking to channel Austen and Bronte. Don’t go into it expecting a good scare, and be prepared for regency style angst.

((links to be added once review goes live))
Was this review helpful?
Now, The Witch of Willow Hall is exactly what I wanted to read. Ms. Fox establishes the historical setting with the type of clarity that I love in historical fiction. Plus, there is plenty of mysterious, otherworldly happenings to satisfy my need to escape into fantasy. The story has a surprising dark side that may cause more than one reader to cast it aside for the ick factor, but there is also an unexpected sweetness to the story that more than made up for it. I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish this one and don’t regret it a minute.
Was this review helpful?
I liked this book a lot and I love mysteries/thrillers that also happen to be in the historical fiction genre.
Was this review helpful?
Wow - what a story! The main character is likable, but all the characters get the time to be fully developed. It pulls you in from the beginning, has twists and turns that you don't see coming, and manages a romance without losing it's creepy vibe.
Was this review helpful?
This was a delightfully creepy read - a perfect book for anyone that likes a bit of mystery, a little romance and a dash of the supernatural.  From beginning to the end there are so many twists and turns - some that you'll see coming, some that will come out of nowhere.  

Lydia is the middle of three sisters and after a scandal she must break off her engagement as the family flees from Boston to the country home that her father had recently purchased near New Oldbury.  Once there things begin happening that can't be explained and there's a new neighbor that has Lydia's interest but she can't figure out if it's herself or her sister that he's keen on seeing. 

Overall this book was a great read and very enjoyable.
Was this review helpful?
A spooky, atmospheric read as a family reeling from scandal finds themselves at a country retreat that is haunted by echoes of the past. Creepy and compelling.
Was this review helpful?
Posted to Goodreads: The Montrose sisters Catherine, Lydia and Emeline have been moved from Boston to a small town to get away from scandal.  However, not everything is normal at Willow Hall where there may be supernatural forces at work.

I got this book at BEA and I expected a supernatural romance but instead I got a family drama book with just a little bit of a supernatural aspect.  The book was fine but I think I would have liked it way better if I knew what to expect when I began reading it.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Hey book slayers!

It’s been a while since I have had the chance to write a review, I’ve read some great books and just didn’t sit down to blog about them, and I really need to start setting time aside for this, because I truly do love sharing my opinions on these great books I read.  This time, I was sent another ARC through NetGalley in the form of The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox in exchange for an honest review.  The book was released at the beginning of October, and you should definitely go to your local bookstore and pick it up, it’s definitely BookishWiccan approved!

My Rating: 4.5 / 5

First, let me say, there will be spoilers. SO, if you don’t want the book ruined for you before you read it, close this post, NOW. If you keep reading, don’t say I didn’t warn you! Now, let’s dive on in to the review.

Honestly, I was expecting something completely different when I picked this book up. I am not sure what I expected, but it wasn’t what I read, and I think I am more thankful for that than not. I wasn’t expecting to love this book so much; to connect and develop such a love for these characters.  Between Lydia, and Emeline, as well as Catherine, John, Ada, and all the others, I truly felt like I was a fly on the wall of the early 1800’s Boston family.

To start, this book is based in the 1820s, starting in Boston, Mass., with a little story pre-cursor in 1811, giving you a slight insight into the background of the story and why it begins as it does.

When the book begins, we are greeted by Catherine, Lydia, Emeline, and their mother, as they travel from Boston to New Oldbury (what a town name!), after the family has been shunned from the Boston social society – but more on that later.  Catherine is complaining of having to be so far away from the place she called home, and moving to “the edge of the world”, Lydia is drowning in her own thoughts, and Emeline just cannot wait to get out of the carriage and explore her new surroundings, while their mother is just trying to hold things together. The Montrose ladies are traveling to meet their father/husband at the new home he had built – intended originally to be a summer home, turned into their new permanent residence. What they don’t know, is the history of this massive estate, and what it will mean for their family. But more on that in a bit…

The Montrose girls are learning to adjust in a new, very small town, and it’s quite the change from the hustle and bustle of Boston. Their father had moved them to what was supposed to be their new summer home in New Oldbury, and they took up permanent residence.  Father was in the milling business and there was great prospect for new mills and a chance to make great money. Seeing as the rumors about the Montrose girls continued to swirl around Boston, the family decided it would be best to uproot and move to a new home, away from judging eyes. New Oldbury doesn’t have the same feel to Catherine and Lydia, both young women in their late teens/early twenties. It’s missing the shops and the social aspects, despite being an elaborate home, the city wasn’t necessarily what the girls pictured, and they are trying to figure out how to best live their new lives.

Willow Hall, nestled on the outskirts of New Oldbury, in the midst of a forest full of secrets, has been home to many tragedies, and the Montrose girls slowly learn of the mishappenings on their new property from their father’s business partner they have a chance encounter with. One day while Catherine, Lydia and Emeline are exploring their new surroundings, Emeline’s dog, Snip, gets away from her and runs off. A storm begins, and Lydia takes it as her duty to return her younger sisters best friend, and off she runs through the forest to find the dog. It is on this walk where Lydia first meets Mr. John Barrett, her father’s business partner.  Over the course of the next few weeks, Lydia learns that Mr. Barrett is actually not only her fathers business partner, but he owns half of the land their property sits on, and just out of view, deep in the forest, is where Mr. Barrett calls home.

Now, Willow Hall is known to locals as a haunted place, and after the tragedy that happened in the home prior to the Montrose family purchasing, the hauntings of Willow Hall became stronger once the Montrose family moved in.  The first hints of witchcraft and the supernatural were those of voices and ghost sightings, a message in a fogged mirror, all chalked up to being coincidences, or family members trying to frighten others.  As time goes by, more and more supernatural happenings take place at Willow Hall, and eventually, the worst imaginable, a death.

This book had so much to offer, from a strained relationship between siblings, a father absent to his children, and falling in love with a handsome stranger – to death and heartbreak, joy and self discovery. It offered beginnings of life and ends of life, dreams dreamt, dreams crushed, and dreams achieved. The journey Lydia (our main character) takes from the beginning of this book through to the end is one that drew me in completely. I wanted to know what was going to happen to her, and what she would choose to do. She is loyal to a fault to her family; and I frantically flipped through the pages wondering what decision she would make next.

The curveballs this book threw at you were amazing, and for the most part, quite unexpected. It took a long time for the mention of witchcraft to surface, but, the subtle hints at it throughout the book definitely add to its ambiance. The way Hester Fox created such an atmosphere I could lose myself in was something that I have had a hard time finding in many of the books I’ve read recently. It was refreshing, and not something I normally find myself reading (historical fiction), but the added supernatural elements drew me in.

There were parts of this book that moved me to tears, whether it has to do with touching on my own personal past experiences, or just becoming to attached to the characters that my heart literally breaks when theirs does. I cried tears of happiness, tears of sadness, and even tears of anger. Whatever it was, I am so thankful Hester Fox resonated such feelings in me, this book was a welcome change from the major fantasy books I have been reading (though that will always be my favourite genre!).

I had so much more I wanted to add to this review, but, I decided to try to take a bunch of the spoilers I had written out, because I truly believe you should read this book to get its full effect. It was well written and very enticing, and definitely something I will read again.

Creep it real, witches.

Stay spooky, and stay wild, moonchild.

Happy Reading!

Was this review helpful?
Written by Hester Fox, this novel follows Lydia Montrose, the middle daughter of a wealthy family that has fled Boston on the heels of a devastating rumor about there family involving the eldest son whom we never meet.

Now. Where to begin. I was enthralled with this novel. Sometimes, okay often, when you read a lot of novels you do get into a slump, especially when you are trying to read as many new novels as possible. Willow Hall broke my slump.

Set in the 1800’s upper class, this novel does have a very British feel to it, with an American twist. The characters here all have depth and you do understand them, even if it takes some time.

The most interesting thing about this novel is that I didn’t see everything happening from the beginning. Oh, I could predict a bit (hello love interest), but I didn’t see how everything would twine together. 

Another great thing with this book, and the reason I will be recommending it to one of my book clubs, is the fact that there is no time jumping. The backstory you learn from juxtaposition or from learning rumors in town. Okay, I made that sound a bit too much like a video game, but the characters interact with one another and that is how you learn the history.

AND THE WRITING, oh, so refreshing. It just flows. I did have an ARC, so there were a few minor mistakes, but it was just so well written. There were no accents to make things confusing, they didn’t dwell too much on the surroundings except where they used it to lend to what you should have been feeling.

There were happy moments, devastating moments, misunderstandings, and just a hint of magic. If you enjoy sweet love stories, mysteries, historical fiction with a touch of fantasy, I think you will love this novel. And, honestly, I think everyone should give it a shot. The author just did such a good job.
Was this review helpful?
This book is nice and unsettling! It's like Pride and Prejudice, but with more illicit goings-on - and witches! It's not exactly what one would call a happy book all the way along, but it's nice: as a reader, you don't know what to be more suspicious of. The house with all of its strange noises and movements, the youngest child's imaginary friend, the spiteful sister, or the mysterious and handsome neighbor. The book appropriately catches creepy vibes, all while adding a good old-fashioned romance.
Was this review helpful?
THE WITCH OF WILLOW HALL is a wonderful throwback to those beloved vintage gothic romances. Set in 1821, the story follows the Montrose family as a scandal in Boston sends them retreating to the small town of New Oldbury. Their fresh start in the country is anything but peaceful, as a malevolent force seems to be plaguing their home, Willow Hall. Will middle daughter Lydia's inheritance of a powerful family legacy be able to save them? WILLOW HALL was an enjoyable witchy read and an impressive debut from Hester Fox. Just the right about of spooky goodness and sweet romance.
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed this book for the story that it was, but it definitely wasn't what I was expecting. Based on the blurb I was expecting there to be a lot more about witchcraft and magic. Instead, this story turned into a big love story mixed with family drama, which I wasn't expecting.  A lot of the book focuses on what I described to my wife as Lydia being bipolar - one second she is in love with a man and certain he loves her too and in the same breath becomes certain he hates her. Lydia and Catherine can't see past their differences long enough to move the story along. I was 80% of the way through the book before I realized why it was the WITCH of Willow Hall. It took that long before the family's legacy was explained. It seemed like the first 80% was just a bunch of backstory set up for the last 20% of the novel. I enjoyed learning the history of the house and it's ghosts, as well as descriptions of them rotting away and all the terrible deaths, however I found it very much lacking on magic and witchcraft, leaving behind a more empty romance which while I read, I stayed with it mostly hoping it would eventually become what I was expecting.
Was this review helpful?