Monday, March 6, 2017

Escape from Witchwood Hollow by Jordan Elizabeth

24239419This review was written by: B
Received: E-book from Author
Publication Date of Book: October 2014
Pages: 200 (Kindle Edition)
Stars: 4/5

Official Summary:

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? 

My Thoughts:

She (Honoria) picked her way through the vegetation.  Briars caught on her jeans.  Go back, they seemed to say, or we will prick your heart.  A sweet, earthy scent tickled her nose.  Stepping deeper into the woods, autumn leaves created a shield around her as damp soil sucked at the soles of her sneakers.  The darkness became an envelope and she the letter, seeking a destination she couldn't foresee.  

~Escape from Witchwood Hollow

This book has interested me since February of 2015, but I had unfortunately never been able to get my hands on it.  It had always been in the back of my mind, though, as I'm obsessed with YA fantasy and paranormal stories.  I have also been slowly but surely trying to collect books from Curiosity Quills Press (the book's publisher). You can then imagine my immense excitement when the author asked me if I would accept an ebook of Escape from Witchwood Hollow in exchange for an honest review!  I jumped on this opportunity and am still reeling in the rich world of Witchwood Hollow as we speak.  (Of course, we aren't technically speaking, rather it's you reading without a back and forth conversation with me, but it honestly sounded better than, " still reeling in the rich world of Witchwood Hollow as you read."  I don't know where I'm going with this, and (sigh) I digress.)

I'm a huge sucker for close or quirky familial relationships in books, and I can't explain to you how much I die each time I find one.  (This isn't necessarily something that shows up regularly in the novels I read, so I always especially cherish them when they fall across my path.)  With Escape from Witchwood Hollow, one would naturally assume that you wouldn't get this spectacular add-on since it's a book that, on the outside, appears to primarily focus on the superstitious town of Arnn and its inhabitants in general.  In reality, it is so much more, and  I was in for a surprising bonus when Jordan portrayed a highly realistic and heartfelt relationship between Honoria and her older brother Geoffrey.  Yes, this is by no means the focal point of the novel, but it was definitely one of my favorite aspects of it.  The siblings' parents died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the way that Honoria leaned on and appreciated Geoffrey went straight to my fangirl heart, and the authentic nature and interactions between them melted me into a puddle.  

My other favorite part of the novel was the writing itself.  Each time Witchwood Hollow was described, I felt as if I was in a part of the woods itself.  Jordan's writing of the hollow was rich and vivid.  Imagine looking at an all-consuming, omnipresent painting that steals your entire attention away -- remaining in your mind's eye even when your eyelids are closed.  This was Witchwood Hollow, as flawlessly beautiful as the writing was mesmerizing.  Part eerie and part lonely, the hollow selfishly kept all of those who dared to step into it.  I felt so immersed in the story that it was as if I was walking in the hollow itself, in all of its confounding glory, which is largely due to the perfected tone of this novel.  Allow me to explain. But first, a little backstory . . .

I'll be honest, I'm an easily frightened individual.  Set me in front of a horror movie and the majority of the time anyone looks over, I'll have a pillow covering my entire face.  Occasionally, you'll hear me ask (all muffled-like, of course): "What's happening now?  Is it scary?  It sounds scary.  Guys, I asked what's happening!  Why isn't anyone answering me?!"  Oh, and don't even get me started on spiders.  I see one and I'm like:

Why bring this up you ask?  The tone of Escape from Witchwood Hollow was haunting, especially when the characters were actually in Witchwood Hollow.  (Of course, how these parts and the story as a whole will affect readers shall immensely differ from person to person.)  I honestly found it frightening, though, but not in the typical sense of the word.  It wasn't because Witchwood Hollow was written to personify a slasher, horror, or paranormal vibe.  Instead, it was because the hollow magnified isolation and loneliness in their terrifying, all-consuming glory.  It was a completely different type of horror, one that was a never-ending maze paired with the heart-stopping realization that no one you loved would ever be able to reach you because they couldn't find you.  It was an embodiment of the fact that while you lived, your family would die as you stayed lost to time forever.  I don't know about you, but I find that more frightening and heart-wrenching than any classic horror movie out there.  I get distressed just thinking about what the characters must have went through.  (Cue me throwing a pillow in front of my face now.)

What I was not expecting from this novel were the three different storylines that Jordan presented.  It was a brilliant idea and a game changer for the novel on her part.  Honoria was a little difficult for me to connect with at first, and I found myself gravitating towards an interest in other characters, particularly Elizabeth Clifford.  (I would read an entire book from her point of view if I could!)  Then, I eventually found myself gravitating towards Albertine.  (Right now, you might be like: Who the heck are they?  I feel it is best, though, not to tell you anything about these two characters because it would make the story more interesting if you went into the book more blind than not.)  Over time, though, I got used to Honoria's voice and began to appreciate her as a character.  I just needed a bit of time to warm up to her is all.  

And that ending!  My goodness!  I loved every second of it, and I thought I had it all figured out with what the author had done . . . that is until I read other people's interpretations of the ending on GoodReads.  Now I'm not too sure . . . like . . . at all.  I'm freaking out over it because I need a straight forward answer!  But again, I digress.

Escape from Witchwood Hollow is a fantastic, eerie book to read in one sitting.  It's got multiple, interweaving storylines (Who doesn't love those?!), great themes (like family and moving on), and a mesmeric atmosphere.  I would definitely recommend this book to fans of The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse!

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