The Witch of Willow Hall, Hester Fox (2018)
Themes // Fantasy, Paranormal, Historical
Pages // 368
I was lucky enough to be given a copy of the proof of this book at YALC by a family who had picked up two and saw that I’d missed out on getting one. This was one of the books I went to YALC wanting, a story about a witch years after the Salem Witch Trials, it looked like something different to what I’d usually read, but one that I’d really enjoy.
To call this a witch story I think would be a little loose, the blurb for this proof says that the main character doesn’t yet know she’s a witch, well I can confirm that it takes a while for her to figure it out. I was expecting this book to be a bit more centred around magic, but instead it was heavily focused on romance, marriage and the families place in society. Having moved away from Boston after a family scandal was rumoured, the main characters end up at Willow Hall, which does have some creepy goings on, but it seems more of a paranormal tale than one of witchcraft.
I was left wanting to know more throughout the book, what was the scandal, why were these paranormal going ons happening? We did get the answer to some of these, but writing this review now I’ve realised the end of this book left a lot open.
Because of the small setting, mainly being set in Willow Hall and the surrounding village, it was easy to feel immersed in this book and in the world. I felt like I could easily fall into it and know where I was, which I liked. But I didn’t feel much of a connection to the characters, they were quite typical really, one moody sister, one considerably younger and playful and one stuck in the middle of becoming an adult and still wanting a fantasy world. I actually read this at the same time as listening to To All The Boys I Love Before as an audiobook and the family dynamic seemed loosely mirrored.
Not to call this story predictable, but it was a little obvious where it was going and it took a long time to get there, I felt like it could have taken out half of the book and still been the same story. This was a shame because I think there was a real chance for this book to go down a different route, it captures a YA audience with a subject that isn’t often written about. Personally taking into account the marketing of this book, I wanted to know more about the Salem Witch Trials, this story took part quite a while after, but it was referenced a few times, it could have done more.
The reason for my rating when I’ve just written about how predictable this plot was, is because I enjoyed my reading experience. I’ve decided recently to base my reviews on how entertained I was whilst reading instead of technical marvels of writing, because actually something could be really well written, it doesn’t mean I’ll like reading it. This book made feel warm and cosy, I’d say it’s a good Autumn read, I will only flaw it at it’s pacing and unneeded moments.