Although I read a great many novels involving paranormal elements, I usually don't blog about them on Flying High Reviews even when they have female protagonists that could be considered strong. There are several reasons why I decided that this review belongs here. One is that The Witch of Willow Hall is historical, another is that it's primarily a romance and finally October is the month of Halloween. So I thought the readers of this blog might be interested in a seasonal historical romance about a witch. I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher via Net Galley.
I tend to be inclined to try out new writers. Every year I find debut novels that show potential. I hoped that The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox would be one of them.
The best aspect of this novel is the protagonist's character growth. Lydia is the middle daughter in a family with a heritage of witchcraft. Despite taking place in 19th century Massachusetts, this initially seemed to have a great deal in common with the TV series Charmed about three sisters who were witches from a long line of magical practitioners which takes place in a contemporary context. Charmed just rebooted with a very current approach and a new set of sisters on the CW network. There are some major differences between The Witch of Willow Hall and Charmed. In the book that is the subject of this review, there weren't three paranormally gifted sisters, and there was no one to train those who did have gifts. Lydia was pretty much on her own coming to grips with her powers, and the ghosts at Willow Hall. This meant that she needed to become very strong and independent, and that's exactly the direction in which she evolved over the course of the narrative.
Since Hester Fox's book is a romance, it focused on the impact that being a witch had on Lydia's relationships--particularly her relationships with the men in her life, and the poisoned relationship with her elder sister Catherine who apparently had no powers, and perceived herself as being in competition with Lydia. It seemed to me that Catherine wasn't sufficiently developed, but Lydia herself and the man who emerged as the romantic hero more than made up for Catherine's deficiencies in character development.
I think it's possible that Hester Fox will write better books in the future, and that The Witch of Willow Hall certainly works for historical romance fans who are looking for a Halloween read.