Winterset Hollow by Jonathan Edward Durham | Book Review
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Around the world, Winterset Hollow is a book cherished by countless people. When a group of fans earn ferry tickets to Addington Isle, they jump at the chance to visit their beloved author’s residence. It’s Barley Day, after all, a day of celebration in the Hollow. But for some this Barley Day will be their last. And they will soon find, that the precious book they all hold so dear, was crafted from blood and lies.
Winterset Hollow is a book that leans heavily on the literature side of writing. Settings are described in great detail, making sure to explore each room and area the characters enter. The vocabulary used is flamboyant and emphasizes the use of complex sentence structure. And there is a large amount of buildup and foreshadowing. It is a book that takes a while to move the plot forward as it spends a good amount of time building up each character and the essence of their position in life.
While Winterset Hollow has an extremely slow start, once the hunt begins it does pick up the pace. Though I do wish the sudden aggressiveness of the antagonists was more of a surprise. Foreshadowing was used a bit too much to send red flags to the readers, and I knew something was coming around the corner. Even the way the hunt began was a bit anticlimactic and the first death wasn’t quite unexpected. And while the hunt was intense and nerve-wracking, there were moments where long descriptions cut into the flow of the story and disrupted the pacing. But I will say, Finn, is a terrifying creature to have chase you. He is merciless and cruel. The perfect example of embodied rage and long-held grudges.
And then there is the overarching question of why? Why were these creatures so many humans loved across the world these tattered bitter versions of themselves? The slow reveal and the ensuing journey of discovery our three main protagonists underwent to piece this together was well done. Each new part of the puzzle they discovered was more disturbing than the last, and the final reveal of it all was well worth the wait. I also enjoyed the way the writing style jumped from one perspective to the next, allowing readers a full view of all the motivations and happenings of the story. This version of the third-person point of view was executed well and enriched the overall emotional impact of the story.
Would I compare this to Redwall? No, no I would not. This was pitched to me as a horror version of Redwall and it most certainly is not. The writing style is vastly different and even the origin of the characters in their Hollow is more akin to Watership Down than Redwall. Winterset Hollow is its own brand of dark fantasy, filled with complex characters and haunting revelations. If you enjoy novels that take the time to dive into motivations and develop an intricate set of characters and situations, give Winterset Hollow a try.
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