Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

I put myself down for a hold on this at the library, but while I was at B&N I saw it, and couldn't wait. My time to read spooky tales in October is quickly coming to an end. This month has flown by, with much to do that has kept me from my favorite hobby: reading. I started this novel after hearing about it from friends and reading about it online. I was in the mood for a good historical tale. And I got it from this talented first-time author. I can't wait to read more from Hester Fox. 

Quick plot info: The Montrose Family is forced to leave Boston for the quiet town of New Oldbury after a scandal involving daughter Catherine. You don't know exactly what the scandal is, but I figured it was probably something to do with being caught with a young man-it is, after all, 1821, and even wealthy families aren't immune to rumors and whispers. Off to New Oldbury they go, to live in what is their new summer home-now permanent home, Willow Hall. Make no mistake-this is a very nice place. Beautiful, spacious, but isolated and...well...creepy. 

Catherine is the eldest sister-the beauty who's also not so nice. Lydia the middle sister, is a book nerd, beautiful in a quiet way. She's been dumped by Cyrus after the family scandal. Her engagement was purely a business deal between families, and she's not heartbroken as much as she's furious her sister ended what may have been her only chance to get married. There's little Emeline, youngest daughter, and Lydia's darling sister. 

The family settles into Willow Hall, and meets John Barrett, Mr. Montrose's business partner--and a young cutie pie. He's shocked and disturbed to find out the whole family has moved into Willow Hall. You soon find out why, as Lydia keeps seeing a woman wandering out by the garden, hears horrible gut-wrenching wails at night, and feels something sinister keeping her company. 

Oh, the family secrets that they all keep. Those secrets keep the plot moving;  Catherine's secret is so scandalous I was gobsmacked. Lydia's instant attraction to John Barrett also keeps the plot moving along; you hope that the feelings are returned, but bratty Catherine likes to interfere. Lydia doesn't think she stands a chance. And Cyrus, the toad, returns to beg Lydia's hand in marriage again-his father is in financial trouble after turning his back on Mr. Montrose and their business. Apparently Mr. Montrose has the midas touch, because this family doesn't suffer financially. However, the rumors that sent them fleeing from Boston have followed them, and no one is really very interested in socializing with the family. 

Let me tell you-the creepy factor is pretty good in this novel. It's always apparent; the little boy Emeline talks to by the pond; the horrible voice Lydia hears in her head egging her to do bad things; the noises throughout the house. The woods. Yikes--the woods. This is truly a case of a haunting, but not of the house, but of the land. I don't want to give anymore away. You need to read it and watch it all unfold. What secret is Lydia holding? What about Catherine? What about their mother? Who can help Lydia before it's all too late?

This was a great read. I thoroughly enjoyed it. High schoolers and up will gobble it up. A good blend of paranormal, history, romance, and tragedy. Sometimes letting go is all we can do, even when we want to hold on tight. Lydia is a rock star. 

Available in paperback and ebook. 

Rating: 5/6 for a novel that has a whole lot going on, but it all works together to deliver a supernatural read complete with ghosts, witches, evil, tragedy, forgiveness, the joy and quiet strength of love, and owning your power. Good stuff. 

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