Everyone in Arnn - a small farming town with more legends than residents - knows the story of Witchwood Hollow: if you venture into the whispering forest, the witch will trap your soul among the shadowed trees.
After losing her parents in a horrific terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, fifteen-year-old Honoria and her older brother escape New York City to Arnn. In the lure of that perpetual darkness, Honoria finds hope, when she should be afraid.
Perhaps the witch can reunite her with her lost parents. Awakening the witch, however, brings more than salvation from mourning, for Honoria discovers a past of missing children and broken promises.
To save the citizens of Arnn from becoming the witch’s next victims, she must find the truth behind the woman’s madness.
How deep into Witchwood Hollow does Honoria dare venture?
Cliffnotes version: Honoria and her family move to a small town from posh New York to find herself drawn into a centuries’ old local legend about the witch who lets you enter Witchwood Hollow but doesn’t let you leave. Through a series of flashbacks and trips to the historical society, Honoria learns the truth of the new town she’s living with.
This book is just a rollercoaster of emotions. I was left clinging to my book asking “is that it?” I wanted more. I’ll admit, this book had a bit of a slow start. Lots of time was spent establishing the different characters and relationships but then, the pieces popped up and fit perfectly into the narrative making me grip the pages with excitement.
This story is written from a few different perspectives but focuses on three girls: Honoria, Albertine, and Lady Clifford. I initially mistook their stories as background – as a way of filling in the mystery of the town’s legend through a series of flashbacks. If it had been presented that way, I would have enjoyed it. This was so much better. We begin to see Witchwood Hollow not as folklore but as a living, breathing entity and a lot of that is thanks to lyric narrative the author gives to us. The language is consistent and almost poetic in nature but still grounded in whichever century we find ourselves in at the time. I found some annoyance in Honoria’s characteristics because she was either the type of girl to only wear designer labels (and talk about it) or the author felt the need to overemphasize the character’s love of fashion. I understood the reasoning behind it, I just thought it went on too long.
But speaking of Honoria’s character: I found her to be adorably paranoid, and hopeful to the point of absurdity. In other words: she’s a teenager. Her inner monologue reflected a girl grieving for her parents, and one worrying about the uncontrollable hormones for her friend’s boyfriend, unable to deny her mind the fantasy of “what if he’s calling to ask me out instead of just to drive me to school?” Yes, I rolled my eyes every time she tried not to blush but it felt so much like an authentic teenage moment that I couldn’t deny her the satisfaction of a smile.
I fully admit to being shocked by a few plot twists in this narrative. My reactions were all a variation of sitting up and staring wide-eyed at the page for a few minutes with my mouth flapping, wildly trying to form words. You’ll see a little of that in my Random Notes While Reading:
· I like it. Jump right in to the mystery
· She’s got a point but…I can’t get a read on the girl
· I’m between criticizing her for capitalizing on a tragedy and praising her for using a real world event as a plot device in fantasy
· Oh my god, way to punch me in the heart
· I’m enjoying these flashbacks. You know they’re related but they’re individually engaging
· Much better: morbid humor from out of no where
· Oh you desperate hussy, I feel your pain
· Okay, you need to stop with the name-dropping of clothing labels
· Dude, so cool. I wasn’t expecting that
· Classic horror movie move. Bordering on cliché
· Finally this story leaps forward. Amazing
· I appreciate that he’s honest
· Trippy. I love it. But so sad
· This is so cool – and old magic
· WHAT! Just causally blow my mind, why don’t you
· Oh hey
· What? Holy shit! Did you seriously just do that?
This book took me by surprise literally and figuratively (if I’m using those terms correctly). I’m not sure what I was expecting but it wasn’t this ride. I was pleasantly thrilled with each chapter and I would highly recommend this Young Adult novel.