Thank you wo much to The Book Review Crew (now Travelling Pages) and the author for allowing me to have early access to this book in exchange for an honest review.
Eamon feels different from everyone and has come a long way to be able to talk to others normally and get close to them, which he mainly does with those who share his passion for a specific book, Winterset Hollow. That’s how he met his best friend, Caroline, and her boyfriend (not really a reader) Mark. One day, the three of them receive a free ticket to go to the very place where their favourite book takes place and there they find there’s not much difference between fiction and reality.
As for many readers, one of my favourite tropes is a book within a book, category that this story fits into. The first time I saw the cover, I thought it would be a horror/mystery/thriller and I was not wrong. Actually, when I chose it, it seemed to be giving me similar vibes to Bunny by Mona Awad, but even darker. I’m so glad I was right!
I found the plot somehow predictable given that many tips are left some time before events take place, but I was not bothered by this in the slightest. Those who have watched my channel (The Book Dreamer’s Alley) will know I’m not plot or character driven, but atmosphere. Well, this book delivered such a dark and attracting atmosphere that it was impossible for me to close it. Whatever I had to do throughout the day, I’d feel the pull of the book calling me. It was really hard to put it down even for a few minutes.
Characters are properly developed, although I’d have loved to have learnt more from Caroline’s and Mark’s backgrounds. The animals (the main characters of Winterset Hollow, the book within the book are such) were incredibly anthropomorphed, their language expressions distinctive from the others’ and their descriptions so vivid, you could see all of them and imagine their behaviour and manners as if you, as the reader, were another spectator of the story. This is to say that the character development was impeccable.
This story is so well done and twisted (meant as a compliment) that I’m not quite sure how to classify it. It’s surely adult, but you could see it as a fantasy with magical realism elements or a magical realism that already includes some fantastic elements, but to me, it’s more of a purely horror story about a book within a book in which the dividing line between reality and fiction blurs to the point of disappearing completely from view.
The writing style is engaging and takes you deeper into the atmosphere. Here’s the author!
Jonathan Edward Durham was born near Philadelphia in one of many satellite rust-belt communities where he read voraciously throughout his youth. After attending William & Mary, where he received a degree in neuroscience, Jonathan waded into the professional world before deciding he was better suited for more artistic pursuits.
He now lives with his partner in California where he writes to bring a unique voice to the space between the timeless wonder of his favorite childhood stories and the pop sensibilities of his adolescent literary indulgences. His debut novel, Winterset Hollow, an elevated contemporary fantasy with a dark twist, is mined from that same vein and is currently available everywhere.
You can find him at:
What will they discover in the island? What parts of the story may seem too real? What will they be shocked and surprised about?
If you like dark stories and a book within a book, if your atmosphere driven and like surprises and twists, this book is for you.
I really hope you read this and let me know in the comments what you thought of it afterwards. I’d love to have a nice discussion about it!
Hope you’re taking good care of yourselves and that you read this book!