Happy Saturday everyone! I don’t know what all is happening weather-wise around the globe but here in Dallas it’s been a constant downpour all day. It’s perfect for cuddling up on the couch and reading. I’m so excited to ring in the new season of cooler weather with some exciting creepy reads! Today I’m going to be bringing you all a review for quite the witchy read! I read this one with the Traveling Sisters, hosted by Brenda and Norma over at Two Sisters Lost in a Coulee and it was a fantastic group read! We’ve all ended up really enjoying it which I can tell you, doesn’t happen often.
The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox
Welcome fellow readers, to 1800’s Boston, Massachusetts – two centuries after the Salem Witch Trials. Meet Lydia Montrose – she is the daughter of a wealthy businessman and a prim AF lady of the house. She does not shine quite as bright or as boldly as her elder sister Catherine, and she is not as imaginative and carefree as her younger sister Emeline. As a prominent family in the large city of Boston, we enter our story with the devastation of having to leave their established society due to the rumor mill churning on about Lydia’s sister Catherine. They’ve left Boston in the wake of scandal for what was intended to be a summer home in the quiet countryside town of New Oldsberry to make Willow Hall their home.
Yet at the same time I want to untether my heart, toss it up into the sky and let it take wing. There’s a wildness here that, if nothing else, holds promise, possibility.
While 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.
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.
This was truly the perfect blend of many different genres that I couldn’t imagine a better book to ring in the Halloween season. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m a bit of a seasonal reader but I don’t think you have to be one to enjoy changing things up as the weather and atmosphere around you change as well. There’s something so enchanting to me about this time period as the weather cools down outside. There is an intoxicating ambiance to the propriety, fashion, customs and overall vibe of novels like this that just get me in the mood for the season.
In addition to the historical fiction/fantasy that Fox has constructed here, there is a bit of romance thrown in. Based on the synopsis I didn’t see this coming and while I haven’t been reading a lot of romance recently I’m honestly a sucker for a good love story. I love getting swept up in the excitement that goes along with romance and I’m a bit of a cheese-ball so I loved seeing that pop up here. However, I think that even if you aren’t a big romance fan that it wouldn’t sway you from enjoying this story. The romance isn’t overwhelming or insta-love the way many are these days. It feels genuine and I my heart soared and sank as the romance ebbed and flowed and I was absolutely on the edge of my seat to see how it all played out.
“Lydia Montrose,” he said, his sea-storm eyes dancing with light, “you are an exquisite little mystery and I have never wanted anything or anyone so badly in my life.”
What left me wanting a bit more with this one, however, was that it got a bit bogged down on weaving what felt like less necessary plot points. I was left wanting a bit more witchy-ness and development into the history of the Montrose family. The first quarter of this moved fairly slowly for me and it did start to pick up but didn’t really get moving to me personally until the second half. While I enjoyed the ending and my overall takeaway was pure enjoyment and entertainment I wish I knew more about what felt like the basis of this novel (witches and history) and little less about the MCs feelings about the scandals that will ultimately be forgotten.
Despite a few misgivings I absolutely adored this novel and I’d suggest it to anyone to pick up and read. It has a little bit of everything in it and I think anyone who loves a good October read would really enjoy this. It was expertly written, well paced and had developed and likable characters throughout.
Long Story Short:
Suggested For: Fans of historical fiction, fantasy, ghost/witch stories and anyone looking for a good October / Halloween read!
Music Mood: Sake of the Sound by Front Country
Do you seasonally read? What are some books you have in store for the upcoming Holiday season? Drop me a note in the comments and let me know!