The Montrose family left Boston to escape the rumors claiming a family scandal. Now ensconced in their new country home, Willow Hall, middle daughter Lydia wants nothing more than peace and quiet, to take care of her younger sister Emeline, and no more family scandals.
At first, things at Willow Hall are peaceful. Emeline cares only about looking for mermaids in the pond, and Catherine can’t seem to make up her mind if she’ll pursue their father’s new partner, John, or his best friend. Reading sounds much better to Lydia, at least at first.
But soon Lydia hears a woman wailing in the night and sees a pale boy in the gardens. The oppressive air around Willow Hall closes in around the family, and darkness hovers, along with memories from Lydia’s childhood. Lydia will have to discover the truth about Willow Hall—and herself—to grasp peace.
This novel is almost Gothic, almost a romance, and all spellbinding. Lydia was a wonderful character. I loved her from the beginning. She cares so much about her family—even the horrible ones—and does her best to save them from themselves. She’s dutiful, but she’s not blind to the faults around her. I’d actually love to read more about her. The Gothic feel of this novel is well-done, without being overpowering or too creepy. Catherine was such an inconsistent character. Sometimes, I almost liked her. The rest of the time, not at all. A very enjoyable book that I read straight through!
Hester Fox is an artist and author. The Witch of Willow Hall is her first novel.
(Galley provided by Harlequin/Graydon House in exchange for an honest review.)
Brunonia Barry is the best-selling author of The Lace Reader and The Map of True Places. She grew up fascinated by Salem and with some of the accused witches in her family tree. After traveling the world, she returned to her roots in Salem. The Fifth Petalis her newest novel.
On Halloween night, a teenage boy dies suspiciously, in the presence of Rose Whelan, the eccentric person-of-interest in triple homicide decades ago. Chief of police John Rafferty isn’t from Salem, so he accepts nothing at face value. He thinks Rose had nothing to do with the boy’s death, and starts to question everything he’s heard about The Goddess Murders, the three women, all descended from accused Salem witches, who died so many years before.
While talk against Rose surfaces in the town, Rafferty must put aside his own issues to search for the truth behind The Goddess Murders. Because town gossip claims evil was raised the night of the murders. And with the truth no closer to the light than before, Rafferty starts to wonder if that evil will rise again.
The Fifth Petal had me hooked from the very first page. There’s an air of creepiness woven throughout the novel, and the historical roots of Salem—both good and evil—are explored in depth. The city lives and breathes on the pages, and I came to love the characters, especially the deeply troubled Rose. The Fifth Petal makes me want to visit Salem, which I’ve never had the desire for before. If you like creepy and a little bit scary mixed with your mystery, you’ll definitely love this book!