By Cynthia Bujnicki
In the wake of scandal, the Montrose family moves to New Oldbury from Boston, MA, establishing a home in Willow Hall. The estate seems untouched, but there is something hidden in the confines of the homes dark past. Willow Hall has secrets as dark as night and as treacherous as well, and Lydia must learn to call on power she never knew she had if she hopes to keep those she holds dear safe.
What an interesting novel. There is an essence that surrounds this novel making it reminiscent of Joyce Carol Oats. It comes through the haunting aspect of the novel and the ease of which the story develops and grows, allowing the gothic nature of the film to grow. That is the beauty of the novel that it makes sure to focus on the characters while also having that eerie feeling lingering right on the fringes of the story. It never goes away, and that is the eeriness of the story, that in Willow Hall, the paranormal creeps up on the reader, making them by surprise before returning to the shadows of the story. It is a magnificent way to tell the story while also giving the characters a chance to develop as the narrative goes on.
The characters get to shine and develop as the story went on. The scandal and tragedy propel the story forward, and the characters react in tandem with these events instead of just reacting to them afterward. Lydia is a powerful character as she works to understand the hauntings of Willow Hall as well as the mysteries that surround her. She matures throughout the story and even becomes a softer character in the sense where she learns to love herself and be at peace with the differences between her and her sister. Lydia finds inner peace, which is more than can be said for her sister. On that note, Catherine is an entirely detestable character. She yields nor sympathy from the reader on any level, and that seems to be Fox’s intent, to create a character so self-involved that she is oblivious to the ghostly world around her. It works to create another layer of tension in the story, one that is more character driven than plot driven. It gives the story some dimension and a way to understand the characters
Overall the writing is solid. Fox writes the story with ease, allowing summation to have its proper place in capturing the passage of time. The story keeps moving forward. The story does not lag and focuses on building up those very gothic moments with visually beautiful detail, making them as vivid and as haunting to the reader as they are for the characters. It is an unexpected delight and quite a different route as far as gothic literature is concerned. (★★★★☆ | B+)