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?
In the world of young adult literature, paranormal reigns supreme. I will never run out of paranormal options with the way the industry is cranking out novels in this genre, but in many cases, they're really lacking something. It's getting to the point where I need another genre to tie it to, something to make each read unique. One of my absolute favorites is YA-horror. It's often overlooked as it's probably the smallest of the YA sub-genres. Not many authors can pull it off successfully. There's such a stigma around writing anything in the horror genre that most authors stray away from it altogether. Thankfully for me, Jordan Elizabeth is not one of those authors.
Escape from Witchwood Hollow is neither marketed nor categorized as a horror novel, but I'm here to tell you that it was among the most terrifying YA-horror novels I have ever devoured. What a trip! The entire novel had a very Shyamalan-ian feel to it that really kept me reeling from the first chapter to the final sentence. This is not a read for the faint of heart, Elizabeth really pulls out all the stops to make this novel jaw-dropping. When I say horror, I don't mean blood and gore either, Elizabeth does a phenomenal job at keeping the horror aspect of this novel on the mental plane (for the most part). It will leave your brain on a track it won't be able to get off. Seriously mind-blowing at times, with a twist I really didn't see coming!
The plot of Escape was one of the more unique that I have seen in a YA novel. I am a huge stickler for historical novels so I absolutely fell in love with Elizabeth's decision to follow three characters throughout various time periods (1600s, 1800s, and 2001). That was a great literary device. Tying the story into current events (the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001) was a great idea that really grounded the story with an emotional anchor. Truly creative thinking on the part of Elizabeth. The historical aspects of the novel was spot on for American history and really helped to set the tone for the various chapters of the novel. The eventual ways in while the various storylines tie together really was groundbreaking for me. The execution was so seamless, only an author with the storytelling ability of Elizabeth could successfully pull it off.
This was a really quick read (just shy of 200 pages) so I really think the one thing Elizabeth missed out on was character development. While we learn a lot about the characters, we really don't dive too far into their minds and psyche in this story. It worked well for the story, but I would have liked to see the story expanded to allow for more character development. In the end, it really doesn't matter because Elizabeth is able to formulate a successful ending while wrapping up every loose end at once. There are far too many characters involved in this novel to critique them all, but for the most part I liked every one. There was one character I really didn't like and don't really understand the purpose of, but in the end it didn't bother me enough to change my thoughts on the story.
The settings in Escape were great. Arnn is written to perfection. I've never lived the city life so I'm very familiar with small-towns like Arnn. In fact, my hometown even has local legends like Arnn as well! The city of Arnn is so creatively reflected throughout the various timelines that I was very impressed. The physicality and timeless features of the city and the pertinent locations featured in the story were really a nice touch.
In true horror fashion, Elizabeth touches on some hard hitting themes to tell her story. Glimpses into the topics of death, guilt, survival, love, abandonment, family, and redemption are all present in this story that will really appeal to readers cross-genre. If this novel doesn't leave you reflecting on your own mortality, you've read it wrong. Major kudos to Elizabeth for touching on such hard-hitting topics without weighing down her story.
In the end, I was beyond impressed with Escape. I could hardly put it down. I can say without hesitation that this is one of the best YA paranormal-horror novels that I have ever read. I am so excited be grant Escape from Witchwood Hollow a well-earned 5-star review. This is an excellent read for the autumn season (particularly around Halloween) that is sure to be a hit with fans of YA, horror, paranormal, and historic fiction. I highly recommend this read to anyone looking to add something a little different to their TBR lists this season!
Alright readers, that's all I have for you on the topic of Escape from Witchwood Hollow. As you can see, this was definitely a read I thoroughly enjoyed. I will be keeping a close eye on Elizabeth and her future releases. Be sure to add this one to your TBR! Thanks for stopping by. Until next time, Happy Reading.