Addictive

‘Escape from Witchwood Hollow’ – Jordan Elizabeth Mierek

4-star-rating

Escape from Witchwood Hollow - Jordan Elizabeth Mierek

Escape from Witchwood Hollow – Jordan Elizabeth Mierek

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?

I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

When I started reading, I was a bit skeptical and thought that I would not enjoy this offering from Mierek. It opened very much like an American, young teenage fiction: a bit bland, slow to get started and, quite frankly, a bit of a hard slog for lack of interesting plot. However, after getting through the first few chapters and the story of Arnn begins to be told, I found that I couldn’t put this book down and ended up devouring the rest very quickly. It was, as my blog title states, simply, addictive.

I found myself drawn into Witchwood Hollow like the characters Mierek writes about. I too, wanted to escape the claustrophobic setting of the forest, but could not stop reading, desperate to find out what would happen to the characters. The story of Witchwood Hollow takes places over three separate time frames – Honoria’s 2001, the witch’s beginnings and Albertine. Mierek cleverly weaves their stories together and the links that are revealed throughout were a surprise to me, making this story even more enjoyable. The way time seems to slow in the forest appears to be reflected in the writings and, whilst this implies the story stagnates, it is completely the opposite: you are drawn into reading more without realising how much time has passed!

I really enjoyed reading this book and found the way the characters are all tied together at the end a great way to complete the story. I didn’t expect these revelations and this made it even more of a great read for me. I was surprised to see the cover depicts a character – perhaps, Honoria? – with pink hair as this is definitely not talked about in the novel (surely, such a distinctive feature would come up in conversation with her peers?) and it was certainly not how I imagined her. That being aside, this spooky read was a pleasant surprise after how it began in such a shaky manner.

The different layers in the story are intriguing. Were it not for the slow beginning, I would not have hesitated to give this a full five stars. Whilst it is a teenage fiction, I read past this and enjoyed the ghostly horrors that lay within the forest of Witchwood Hollow. If you do find yourself reading this, definitely persevere until Albertine reaches America: from then on, the pace really kicks off.

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A lethargy-inducing novel

‘Bag of Bones’ – Stephen King

2-star-rating-1

 Image courtesy of goodreads.com

Bag of Bones – Stephen King

When Mike Noonan’s wife dies unexpectedly, the best-selling author suffers from desperate writer’s block. Until he is drawn to their summer home, Sara Laughs, the beautiful Maine lakeside retreat which has recently been haunting his nightmares.

But Mike finds the once familiar town now in the tyrannical grip of millionaire Max Devore. Devore is hell-bent on getting custody of his deceased son’s child and is twisting the fabric of the community to this purpose. 

Three-year-old Kyra and her young mother turn to Mike for help. Increasingly besotted with them, Mike is powerless to resist. 

But there are other sinister forces at Sara Laughs determined to stand in their way…and Kyra can feel them too.

I really struggled with ‘Bag of Bones’ and for three quarters of the time found myself fighting lethargy and concentration. It was only when the pace began to pick up and I started to get interested (literally, for me, it was the last 150 pages) that I realised how much pathetic fallacy plays in this narrative.

Not wanting to preach to the converted, let me just enlighten you what I mean by ‘pathetic fallacy’. Basically, things like the weather match the atmosphere and action in the story. Take ‘Frankenstein’ for example. When Doctor Frankenstein finally creates the monster, it is no coincidence that it is dark and stormy. Not just because he needs lightning to create the monster, but it reflects the horrifying deed he is committing.

Bringing it back to ‘Bag of Bones’, the protagonist, Mike Noonan is suffering from a serious case of writer’s block after the sudden death of his wife. He takes himself to his lake house in Maine (you wouldn’t expect anywhere else when reading a Stephen King novel, would you?) and the weather is insufferably hot. Noonan struggles to rediscover his writing and the weather is suffocatingly hot. It makes the book feel quite claustrophobic when you are reading it and even when Mike starts writing again, the weather hasn’t lessened and I found it difficult to escape the lethargy. Then, as the mysteries of his lake house, Sara Laughs, come to a climax, there is an approaching storm. As soon as this appears  quite literally on the horizon of the story, I knew this meant the pace would finally be picking up. So with the drama of this awful thunderstorm, Noonan comes face to face with the spirits that have been tormenting him throughout the story and the narrative actually gets quite exciting. And even when this was over and I was finishing with the Epilogue, that excitement still continued, especially as many of my questions finally became answered.

I had read this book about ten years ago and my memory of reading it was that it was simply a chore. Whilst I was able to get through it again this time, I didn’t particularly enjoy it until the very end. There are some parts which are quite sexually graphic and whilst relevant to the story, was not something I enjoyed reading. I have read a few Stephen King novels in the past and know this is something that comes with the territory, but I guess this is just not really my “thing” any more.

I think Stephen King fans will enjoy reading this book because of the mystery and building tension over the narrative. However, if you are wanting to get a taste of his writing, I would not recommend this novel to start with. I am positive there are better King stories than this one.