This book was an absolutely wild ride for me. There was one emotional twist after another and I was just holding on, waiting to see how it would all turn out to be okay. Witches, romance, an intense sibling rivalry, and a house that is not what it seems. Omg y’all, I’ve been waiting to tell you about this book for weeks but I had to finish it before I could actually write up my review. But here we are! Let’s get started.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Take this as a warning: if you are not able or willing to control yourself, it will not only be you who suffers the consequences, but those around you, as well.
New Oldbury, 1821
In the wake of a scandal, the Montrose family and their three daughters—Catherine, Lydia and Emeline—flee Boston for their new country home, Willow Hall.
The estate seems sleepy and idyllic. But a subtle menace creeps into the atmosphere, remnants of a dark history that call to Lydia, and to the youngest, Emeline.
All three daughters will be irrevocably changed by what follows, but none more than Lydia, who must draw on a power she never knew she possessed if she wants to protect those she loves. For Willow Hall’s secrets will rise, in the end…
The Montrose family is moving to the country and more specifically, to Willow Hall. Why do they need to move you might ask? There is a scandal surrounding the family and the rumors became too much for the family. to deal with. Lydia Montrose, the middle daughter, doesn’t know how much the move is going to actually help.
Her mother could not look sadder and her father is still barely around. But there is one good thing about moving to Willow Hall: Mr. Barrett. He is her father’s new business partner and is very attractive and when they first meet, he seems to actually be interested in Lydia.
That all seems to change when he meets her sister, Catherine. Catherine is the one all the boys love and she seems to have won Mr. Barrett’s attention as well. Well, that’s how it seems from Lydia’s perspective at least. But when the Montrose’s throw their first ball at Willow Hall, all those worries seem to go by the wayside. Tragedy strikes the family and it puts Lydia’s life into a different perspective. I don’t want to give any spoilers here but I will say I sobbed during this part. IT. HURT. I did not expect it to happen despite the clues that were in place and it wrecked me. And right before this tragedy, Lydia finds out something about Catherine that changes everything.
The rest of the story shows how the family deals with the tragedy, how Lydia and Catherine’s relationship as sisters develops (#itscomplicated), how Lydia and Mr. Barrett’s relationship changes, and how Lydia discovers that she has magic powers.
It turns out there are a long line of witches in her family (on her mother’s side) that no one ever really told her about and when Lydia feels any sort of strong emotion (mainly anger #relatable), things happen. Lakes bubble, doors close, rude boys go flinging across the room. All sorts of fun things. Once she finally accepts what she is, it is up to Lydia to figure out how to tame her powers.
TRIGGER WARNING TIME: Alright, there are quite a few trigger warnings for this book, so I wanted to make it its own section. Here we go. If you are triggered by incest (don’t worry, it’s not romanticized), miscarriage, suicide, and/or child death, this might be a book you want to pass on or at least be careful when reading. If there is anything specific you want to know about something that might trigger you, feel free to message me or leave a comment. I would be happy to give you more information. I hate when I’m not forewarned when a book has one of my triggers, so I don’t have any problem making sure another reader is safe too.
The Witch of Willow Hall was definitely a tough read for me but I’m so glad I read it. It made me think about loss in a way I hadn’t before, about how to let people go while still holding a piece of them in your heart, and it was a lesson I’ve needed. Lydia is a complex, sad, and wonderful character to follow through this dark journey with and I was so glad she was able to be happy in the end. She really comes to a place of understanding and calm that, after everything she goes through, is a relief to see. I was also so happy that her parents got a chance at a second life as well. Her mother, who at the beginning of the book is so depressed and almost catatonic, becomes a much happier woman by the end.
To say I cried while reading this book would be an understatement. I sobbed about 1/4 of the way through because I was so deeply sad about the tragedy and then sobbed again at the end because I was so happy for Lydia, glad she was taking Ada (the family’s maid) with her, and that most of the characters were going to be living in peace. I am giving The Witch of Willow Hall 5 out of 5 stars. The rating on this changed daily but by the end, I could not give it anything less.
The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox came out October 2, 2018
Full disclosure: I was (somehow) lucky enough to win an ARC of this book from the author on Twitter.
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