THE WITCH OF WILLOW HALL Hester Fox
A Perfect 10
Graydon House Books
ISBN: 978-1-525-83301-4
October 2018
Gothic

Massachusetts 1811 and 1821

Lydia Montrose has always known that one of her ancestors was hanged as a witch, but she's never pursued that story. She is also aware that something she did to the neighborhood bully in Boston when she was a small child has not been spoken of since. Now the family is leaving Boston and retreating to Willow Hall, the house her father built in the tiny hamlet of New Oldbury due to rumors about her older sister. Lydia is about to discover that there is something mysterious and confusing about herself, and possibly other members of her family.

Older sister, Catherine, is a shallow, self-centered beauty who is furious about leaving a bustling city for the backwater of New Oldbury. But there are two men who she can flirt with, while she works to hide a terrible secret that even her family can't believe. Lydia is usually the brunt of Catherine's foul temper, but she has learned to avoid confrontations, and, instead, to devote herself to caring for their younger sister, Emaline. For Lydia, the quiet seclusion of their new home comes with strange sights and feelings that she is reluctant to reveal to her parents. Emaline claims to see a little boy at the pond in the woods, while Lydia senses a foreboding presence in the newly built house that her father is so proud of.

The move to New Oldbury hinged on Lydia's father going into the mill business with a local resident, John Barrett. It is Barrett and new friend, August Pierce, who are targeted by Catherine. Lydia knows that her older sister is desperate to marry and escape the boredom of Willow Hall. But she is stunned to discover why. It was Lydia who was engaged in Boston to a family acquaintance but because of the rumors, the marriage was aborted.

THE WITCH OF WILLOW HALL is a page-turning, mind-blowing tale told by Lydia. Nothing seems to please her older sister, her younger sister is in constant trouble, and Lydia has resigned herself to being an old maid who devotes herself to her parents, her books, and her herb garden. But Willow Hall will not allow Lydia to fade into the woodwork. Something, or someone, has made the Montroses' new home anything but peaceful. And Lydia must discover the hard way, just who she truly is.

Wow! What a fascinating, gripping novel. Beautifully written with amazing characters and an even more amazing premise, this tale is terrific. I promise readers that THE WITCH OF WILLOW HALL will entertain you from page one.

Jani Brooks