Title: Escape from Witchwood Hollow
Author: Jordan Elizabeth Mierek
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Release Date: October 24th, 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Myster
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 First Thoughts:
Shortly before Thanksgiving this year I received a request to give this story an honest review for a free eBook copy. This was actually my first request (also my first eBook), which got me super excited to read the book. The synopsis is interesting enough and the cover appears interesting enough to catch the eye.
Honestly, with this book I’m not quite sure where to begin. I finished this book days ago, yet I waited until the last minute to write the review because I didn’t really know how to write it.
The synopsis is a bit misleading for a few reasons. From the summary, it appears that the story only follows Honoria (which is a very old name that originated from ancient Latin). Instead, the story follows three main characters from three different time periods (1600s, 1800s, and 2000s), two heroines and a misguided female antagonist. I didn’t really mind this; it was just a bit jarring when the story switched from Honoria’s point of view to Lady Clifford and then Albertine without much warning. I’m usually a stickler when it comes to book summaries because they’re there to sell the book, so if the summary doesn’t fit the book, then it makes me feel like I didn’t get the product that I paid for. Honoria didn’t find any lost children, and anything she did discover she did it with the help of her male companion Leon. The citizens aren’t actually in trouble, at least Honoria doesn’t know if they’re in danger, and she doesn’t go on a saving mission, more out of curiosity and solving a mystery. Even solving the mysteries, at least revealing them to the readers, was done mostly by Albertine, who plays a major role in the story yet isn’t mentioned in the summary.
Speaking of the main characters, Honoria, Albertine, and Lady Clifford weren’t terrible. There were times in which Honoria got on my nerves, mostly by her inner thoughts, especially when it came to talking about the ‘country’ people of Arnn. Otherwise, Honoria wasn’t a character that I connected with. As a character, she was fine, but she didn’t appeal enough to me for me to make a connection with her. Instead, I connected more with Albertine and some with Lady Clifford. Albertine, coming from the 1800s, should have been the major main character of the story and mentioned in the synopsis because she does the most in the story. Without her, the story would not have progressed as it did. In fact, the story would have been a lot stronger if it focused around Albertine more; Escape from Witchwood Hollow fits more with Albertine’s side of the story than Honoria’s. As for Lady Clifford, there isn’t much to say other than she was an interesting character and her story, while short, was definitely engaging.
The other characters were alright, they didn’t really have a lot of depth, and some were really stereotypical. Except for Leon, not much else can be said for the minor cast. Leon, while not the most well defined male romantic interest, was actually one of my more favorite of all the characters after Albertine. He’s the first male character that I have read in a while that loves history, which instantly attracted me to him because I also love history. And for a minor character he also does a lot to progress the story, in fact, I would argue that he did more than Honoria to progress the story.
The last thing that I’ll mention here is the ending, which is what really made me procrastinate writing this review. The ending is not what I was expecting. After the major climax of the story, the last few chapters really hurt the book in my opinion. I was curious as to how the story would end after the climax, but I was not prepared for the ending I read. When I finished the book, I was so shocked that I literally sat in silence and stared at the wall for five minutes, trying to wrap my head around what happened. It’s not a complicated ending, however, if made me think about what was the point of reading the book. In my opinion, the ending not only tarnished the climax but totally destroyed one of the main characters by obliterating their overall potential to grow.
I enjoyed the story well enough, but I’m not sure that I read the same story as everyone else. Most of the reviews for this book gave it fantastic ratings, but I believe it to be average, nothing more. Looking back, the cover does not really represent the story very well. The pink hair is what really ruins the cover. While I understand that the color is to draw the person’s eye, especially since the rest of the cover is extremely dark, they could have had the same effect using blonde or even red hair.
The story before the ending is well enough. Sure it was a little bumpy in the beginning, but by the climax the story smoothed out enough to be really enjoyable. It would have been smoother if the author wrote the complete story of one of the three main female characters. I would have enjoyed it more if the story was centered around Albertine, and it would have made the title make more sense. Instead, it was weakened by the hopping around and some of the smaller chapters that briefly followed some flat minor characters. The romance in the story also felt a bit forced by the author, as if it wasn’t present in the original proposal but added in last minute to keep the reader interested. In fact, the romance was flat and totally unnecessary just like the ending of the story. Not every story needs a romance and there are too many that have a romance that only serves to draw in more readers, even if the romance weakens the story as a whole and the characters involved.
Lord, that ending. I will say this again, it is the weakest point of the story. It was a quick, shortcut way to end the novel, one that I believe the author took because she didn’t know of a better ending. That may be harsh, but that ending was a copout and took away any chance of a character to learn, further diminishing the quality of a main character. If I didn’t care much for Honoria in the main part of the story, I cared less about her after it ended.
Without the ending: 3/5
With the ending: 2.5/5
Why did I give this book two ratings? Well, I didn’t want the ending to lower the overall rating of the book; however, the ending frustrated me so much that I couldn’t just ignore it. So I was persuaded by my boyfriend to give this book two ratings and I’ll explain them both.
The first rating is for the story up until the ending. The story was about average, nothing spectacular but entertaining enough to keep me interested until the end of the climax. The second rating includes the ending, which I’m sure I have ranted enough about by now for you to get the picture. It was like ending a baseball game with a hit that appeared to be a homerun; unit an outfielder makes an insane leap to catch the ball before it hits the ground.