The Witch of Willow Hall

The Witch of Willow Hall

Two centuries after the Salem witch trials, there’s still one witch left in Massachusetts. But she doesn’t even know it.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—Cather...

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Title:The Witch of Willow Hall
Author:Hester Fox
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Witch of Willow Hall Reviews

  • Berit☀️✨
  • Julie

    The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox is a 2018 Graydon House Publication.

    A fine supernatural Gothic tale!!

    This is a book after my own heart!! I love a good old school Gothic story. However, the modern versions of Gothic can often leave me feeling frustrated, as they rely too heavily on magic and the supernatural to carry the story and less on the slow, careful, buildup of suspense. The creepy, spooky elements should reveal themselves at well-timed, calculated moments for an optimum effect. I

    The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox is a 2018 Graydon House Publication.

    A fine supernatural Gothic tale!!

    This is a book after my own heart!! I love a good old school Gothic story. However, the modern versions of Gothic can often leave me feeling frustrated, as they rely too heavily on magic and the supernatural to carry the story and less on the slow, careful, buildup of suspense. The creepy, spooky elements should reveal themselves at well-timed, calculated moments for an optimum effect. In this case, the author captures the essence of true Gothic horror and even adds a romantic element into the mix, putting the cherry on the cake.

    The year is 1821- two centuries after the Salem witch trials-

    The Montrose family has fled Boston in the wake of a scandal. Settling into New Oldbury, the three sisters, Catherine, Lydia, and Emmeline try hard to adjust to their new normal.

    Catherine is a schemer, a manipulator, using her beauty and charms to attract men, hoping to find a husband. Lydia’s engagement to Cyrus was broken after the rumors began to fly, but she soon meets John, and the two find themselves drawn to one another. Emmeline, is the youngest, the most carefree, boasting more of a mother/ daughter relationship with Lydia, who is very protective of her sister.

    As the story progresses, it becomes clear to Lydia that Willow Hall has many secrets and long dormant imprints, which her arrival has suddenly awakened. The house will force Lydia to face a long- buried aspect of her own life, the truth she and her family have denied for many years- Lydia has certain abilities- a power within herself, one she loses control of from time to time. The more she understands, the more power she will have, but will it cost her the one thing she most longs for- true love and happiness?

    This story is written in an authentic Gothic format. The magic is not in the forefront of the saga. While many have lamented the minimal use of magic in this one, there are plenty of paranormal, horror, fantasy, and paranormal romance novels out there where one can enjoy the premium emphasis on those elements.

    The Gothic novel should move at a much slower pace, allowing the suspense to build through the characterizations. If paranormal elements are truly a part of the story, which they are in this case, then those elements are normally spread out, muted at first, creating that rich, taut, and oh so delicious feeling of heavy foreboding. The suspense takes its sweet time reaching a crescendo, but it is always well worth the wait.

    I haven’t read a good Gothic Horror novel that combines the magical elements of both witches and ghosts in a long time.

    If I had to complain, I would say the author was just a little too cautious with this one at times, but overall, I must hand it Ms. Fox. She has written a pure, traditional Gothic novel, with grace and aplomb, while also appealing to a broader audience.

    Before I go, I must, of course, address the romantic elements in the story. Love and romance are often at the center of Gothic novels, and again, the author did a great job of weaving those elements into the story without it becoming the dominate theme. Not only that, the love story was beneficial in lifting the heavy gloom, to reveal the promise of hope and long overdue peace.

    4.5 stars

  • Debra

    3.5 stars

    "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."

    A witch who doesn't know she is a witch! A family who flees Boston amidst scandal, moves to the town of New Oldbury in 1821. Looking to start over, will they find happiness, or will the past haunt them?

    The Montrose Family was once a prominent family living in Boston until they were enveloped in a mysterious Scandal. Deciding t

    3.5 stars

    "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."

    A witch who doesn't know she is a witch! A family who flees Boston amidst scandal, moves to the town of New Oldbury in 1821. Looking to start over, will they find happiness, or will the past haunt them?

    The Montrose Family was once a prominent family living in Boston until they were enveloped in a mysterious Scandal. Deciding to leave the city (and rumors) behind, Mr. Montrose, along with his wife and three daughters (Catherine, Lydia, and Emeline) moves into a summer home known as Willow Hall, in New Oldbury, MA. The reader knows that the is a son, but he does not make the move with the rest of the family. Why? Mr. Montrose will be a partner in the local Mill owned by a young man by the name of John Barrett.

    Lydia meets John Barrett as he helps her find her younger sisters lost dog and she feels an instant attraction to him. Lydia is not the most confident person and is often put down and somewhat bullied by her older sister Catherine. While the older two sister often clash, both adore their younger sister, Emeline. Young Emeline is full of adventure and years to find mermaids in the pond on the property and speaks of a boy at the pond who speaks to her.

    Lydia has not felt comfortable in Willow Hall or the surrounding woods. She doesn't sleep well and begins to see and hear things that no one else in the family can. She knows that something isn't quite right at their home and has questions about one of her descendants. When tragedy strikes, Lydia begins to see ghosts and learns more about her abilities.

    I loved the Gothic feel of this book. Plus, the premise is interesting: a family driven from Boston due to a scandal, a young woman who is a witch but doesn't know it or how to control her powers, a residence with a past, ghosts, tragedy, and a young man with ties to the property.

    If you come into this book thinking it is going to be all about witchcraft, you will be disappointed. Yes, there is a witch in this story, but you will not see lots of spells being cast or black magic. This book touches on several things - ghosts, witches, mystery, some romance, scandal, family secrets, a little magic, and tragedy. As the book moves along, the reader learns about the scandal which caused the family to leave Boston, and the history of Willow Hall.

    This book does have a sense of dread and foreboding throughout. It's not a fast-moving book in the action sense, not a lot of action happens until closer to the end of the book. Having said that, the story is interesting and as the truth comes out, secrets are revealed, and several characters show their true colors. Lydia is a likable character and I was invested in what would happen to her, would she find answers, would she find happiness, would she find a way to harness the powers she doesn't quite understand, etc. This book is a slow burn where the story builds, along with the sense of foreboding, until the end when revelations take place. I would have liked a little more magic thrown in but overall an enjoyable read.

    I received a copy of this book from Graydon House and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions in this review are my own.

    Read all my reviews at

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    🎶 🌙 🌙 🌙 🌙

    It is the 1800s in Boston, Massachusetts, some two hundred years after the Salem witch trials. One member of the Montrose family is a witch, but she has no knowledge of this.

    There is a scandal that causes the Montrose family to flee from Boston to New Oldbury. Their new home is the gothic, eerie, but stately Willow Hall. It holds its own secrets within its walls. Will the Montroses be able to outrun their past, or is their family de

    🎶 🌙 🌙 🌙 🌙

    It is the 1800s in Boston, Massachusetts, some two hundred years after the Salem witch trials. One member of the Montrose family is a witch, but she has no knowledge of this.

    There is a scandal that causes the Montrose family to flee from Boston to New Oldbury. Their new home is the gothic, eerie, but stately Willow Hall. It holds its own secrets within its walls. Will the Montroses be able to outrun their past, or is their family destined to be outcasts?

    While there is a main character witch, The Witch of Willow Hall is not chock-filled with sorcery or witchcraft, so you should know that going in. What it is instead is an exceptionally atmospheric, well-told historical drama centered on family secrets, romance, betrayal, and tragedy.

    I adored Lydia and found her story interesting and engaging. This is a slower-building story where not much happens until the end of the book, and that’s ok because the story is about the people, the Gothic feel of ominous foreboding, and the richly cinematic atmosphere.

    Thank you to Harlequin for the physical copy. All opinions are my own. I was fortunate to read this atmospheric book with five beautiful friends. ♥️

    My reviews can also be found on my blog with pictures 🤓:

  • Norma * Traveling Sister

    Spooky, suspenseful & a little bit witchy!

    This book reminded me so much of the gothic romantic suspense novels that I used to love reading growing up. They were my absolute favourite stories and this tale just made me feel all nostalgic and reminded me of my fondness for these types of stories.

    THE WITCH OF WILLOW HALL by HESTER FOX is a dark, haunting, romantic and an excellent debut novel that had me totally absorbed, entertained, and interested throughout this entire book.

    I wouldn’t neces

    Spooky, suspenseful & a little bit witchy!

    This book reminded me so much of the gothic romantic suspense novels that I used to love reading growing up. They were my absolute favourite stories and this tale just made me feel all nostalgic and reminded me of my fondness for these types of stories.

    THE WITCH OF WILLOW HALL by HESTER FOX is a dark, haunting, romantic and an excellent debut novel that had me totally absorbed, entertained, and interested throughout this entire book.

    I wouldn’t necessarily say that this story was all that gripping or suspenseful for me though but it definitely had an ominous feel to it that I found quite appealing.

    HESTER FOX delivers an atmospheric, intriguing and beautifully written gothic romantic tale of suspense and mystery here with wonderful character development, a captivating setting and an extremely spellbinding storyline. I really enjoyed the creepy dark vibe and the supernatural aspect to this novel even if it was a little subtle the real magic here was in Lydia's character.

    It was one of those books that definitely cast its spell on me and I wanted to savour every single page.

    *Traveling Sisters Read*

    Norma’s Stats:

    Cover: Beautiful, alluring, eye-catching, intriguing and a fitting representation to storyline.

    Title: Appealing, suspenseful, intriguing and a fitting representation to storyline. My interest is always piqued when the word witch is in a title and I’m usually all over it!

    Writing/Prose: Well-written, engaging, captivating, and fluid.

    Plot: Foreboding, menacing, engrossing, leisurely-paced, enjoyable and extremely entertaining. I adored this storyline!

    Ending: A lovely ending that I was extremely satisfied with and left me feeling hopeful.

    Overall: A fascinating read that had me totally engrossed within this gothic romance tale from start to finish! I absolutely loved the creepy and menacing feel that subtly emanated throughout this wonderful atmospheric tale! Would highly recommend!

    Thank you so much to NetGalley, Harlequin and Hester Fox for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book in exchange for a review!

    Review can also be found on our Two Sisters Lost in a Coulee Reading book blog:

  • Christina - Traveling Sister

    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 Bost

    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.

    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.

    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 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.

    I mean - COME ON. *swooning*

    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.

  • Melisa

    A very enjoyable, creepy fall read!

    I love this period - the propriety and all the rules and manners, the language, the fashion, the balls. All of it! Well, not all of it - although women’s rights were just starting to take off, women were still treated as the lesser sex. But I did enjoy how we have some very strong, outspoken, intelligent leading ladies in this story.

    We have a family who has moved to the country from Boston due to a scandal that has occurred, however we don’t know what has happe

    A very enjoyable, creepy fall read!

    I love this period - the propriety and all the rules and manners, the language, the fashion, the balls. All of it! Well, not all of it - although women’s rights were just starting to take off, women were still treated as the lesser sex. But I did enjoy how we have some very strong, outspoken, intelligent leading ladies in this story.

    We have a family who has moved to the country from Boston due to a scandal that has occurred, however we don’t know what has happened and learn along the way.

    I love an unlikable character and this book had several, including a well drawn villain and a wicked sister. I also enjoyed the sweet romance.

    As someone who likes my books based in reality, this one had just the right amount of “spooky” in it for me - enough that it was believable and not super over the top.

    A great atmospheric, gothic tale!

    Thank you to Harlequin Books for my advance copy, this book will be available October 2nd! This was a group read with my @6bookbesties, Be sure to check out the reviews from Holly, Berit, Mackenzie, Jennifer and Kendall.

  • Diane S ☔

    A Gothic tale, just perfect for October. A terrfic blend of romance and ghostly happenings. Set in 1821 New England, two centuries after the infamous witch trials, we come to a creepy house, with a family whose lineage holds many secrets. So incredibly atmospheric, this was a sisters read and some of us were reminded of the atmosphere rnvoked in past Gothic reads, Rebecca, Jsne Eyre and Wuthering Heights. The chilling kind of old fashioned read where one can use words like torrid and sordid. If

    A Gothic tale, just perfect for October. A terrfic blend of romance and ghostly happenings. Set in 1821 New England, two centuries after the infamous witch trials, we come to a creepy house, with a family whose lineage holds many secrets. So incredibly atmospheric, this was a sisters read and some of us were reminded of the atmosphere rnvoked in past Gothic reads, Rebecca, Jsne Eyre and Wuthering Heights. The chilling kind of old fashioned read where one can use words like torrid and sordid. If you read this you will see how well they fit.

    Characters to like, especially Lydia, one to find reprehensible, Catherine and a mysterious stranger, John. What they mean to each other, what the house wants from them will be revealed to the reader, exactly when it is time. Although chilling, suspenseful, it never gets uncomfortably dark, I thought it was just right. Not a big fan of romantic novels, but this story would not have worked without, which I don't often say. The writing, the descriptions, are very well done, and the atmosphere created just perfect. A wonderful rest for a dark, rainy evening.

    ARC from Edelweiss.

  • Mary Beth *Traveling Sister*

    Two centuries after the Salem Witch Trials, there's still one witch left in

    Massachusetts. But she doesn't even know it.

    It was the year of 1811 and it was the Bishop boy that started it all. He pelted stones at passing carriages. He lurked around every corner, responsible for every terrible thing in the world that Lydia's mind could not comprehend.

    Her Pa brought home a black cat for her and her sister Catherine. It was an outdoor cat. The cat's name was Bartholomew and would squeak in greeting

    Two centuries after the Salem Witch Trials, there's still one witch left in

    Massachusetts. But she doesn't even know it.

    It was the year of 1811 and it was the Bishop boy that started it all. He pelted stones at passing carriages. He lurked around every corner, responsible for every terrible thing in the world that Lydia's mind could not comprehend.

    Her Pa brought home a black cat for her and her sister Catherine. It was an outdoor cat. The cat's name was Bartholomew and would squeak in greeting before she got to the straw filled crate. That day when she entered the barn, the cat did not greet her. She peeked into the crate the cat was dead and the straw had blood on it. Things got hazy for Lydia. She went storming into the street, in a rage. She had a purpose of what needed to be done. But she still did not know how she was going to do it.

    The Bishop boy was found and didn't hide the fact that there was fur on his cuffs and his brown shoe was splattered with blood. Then he turned to the stash of pebbles he was collecting. There was a dozen people gathered around the cobblestones by the time Tommy Bishop was crying for his mother. That was when Lydia came back to herself and realized how many eyes were on her and what she had done. Her mother snatched Lydia up. More than anything else she was afraid of what was going to happen to her. She was afraid that she would be sent away. Her mother sat her on a bench. She braced herself for her sentencing. She was never punished. Her mother told her if anyone asked about it, they would say that it was only a scuffle. Her mother then told her that she must never show the world what it is inside of her. She told her not to tell anyone what happened. Her mother also made it clear that should it come out again that they could find themselves turned out of their home or worse. She never thought that they might be turned out for other reasons and and certainly not for the rumors that surround them now, which are that: rumors.

    This is a spooky gothic novel. It is just perfect for the fall Halloween season. I loved the gothic atmosphere and even enjoyed the romance that fitted into the story. The book had everything in it: A witch, ghosts, spookiness, suspense and some dark secrets. There was some magic but there wasn't any witch spells, which made it realistic.

    The estate they live in 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, Emmeline.

    I loved the characters and there were some unlikable characters too. I loved Lydia the best. John was a very likable character too. Cyrus was an unlikable character too. Another unlikable character was Catherine. She was just so selfish and just cared about herself. She was so jealous. I loved the ghosts too which I am not going to name them, because it could spoil the story.

    This was a Traveling Sister read and I think we all enjoyed it and I enjoyed reading this and discussing it with them.I

    I want to thank Edelweiss, Hester Fox and Grayson House/Harlequin for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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