Author : Jonathan Edward Durham
Published : September 1st, 2021 by Credo House Publishers
Horror | Fantasy | Thriller
With enchanting characters and a beautiful, lyrical backstory Durham takes us on a journey through all the emotions. From joy and wonder on through shock and horror and right into heartbreaking friendship and familial bonds, this story weaves it’s tendrils deep into your heart and makes you want to savor every word on the page.
Full disclosure, I received a copy of this book from the author as a promotional give-away on social media. All that was asked in return was that I read it and give an honest review.
As you can probably tell, I loved this book. But I want to talk real quick about some of the reasons why I loved it and why I think you might too.
So real quick, the premise of the book is that a group of friends goes on a trip to a secluded island. That island is the private estate of the, now deceased, author of their favorite book… Winterset Hollow.
Once there, they discover that while the world knows the tale of Winterset Hollow as a fictional book, a shocking twist of events reveals that not only are all of their favorite characters real, but the truth of the beloved story is much darker and deadlier than they could have ever imagined.
As per usual, I won’t be saying much more about the actual plot as I really want you to go pick up a copy and enjoy it for yourself.
What I will tell you is this.
First, this book is beautifully written. The first two sections of the story are the book equivalent of being snuggled down in a cozy blanket with your favorite snacks and beverages. Even through the revelations that these fictional characters, the animals from Winterset Hollow, are indeed real, everything just feels rich and makes you want to slowly savor every word on the page.
By the time section three begins, however, the richness is still there but it’s laced with a huge change in pace and the dark horror aspects kick in until the end of the book. Though the final third of the story brings a TON of emotional character beats that complement the horror perfectly.
I don’t like to heap big praise on a story that often, mostly because so much of it is all subjective and a matter of personal taste. However, Winterset Hollow was such an absolute joy to read that the only words I can think of as I think of my experience with this story are exquisite, rich, and worth savoring slowly and over and over again.
It was one of the rare books that as soon as I read the final words on the final page, all I wanted to do was flip it back to the beginning and immediately start it over again.
But writing a review of a book that has hit you in such a way is incredibly difficult. Especially when you want to keep it spoiler free. It’s really hard to put into words WHY I loved this book so much. It’s the dark fantasy feel, the wonderful characters, the emotional story. Winterset Hollow reminds me of the feeling I’d get as a kid when I’d see movies like The Neverending Story or The Secret of Nimh. But even that isn’t quite right.
It’s hearing your favorite song, the one that resonates with your very soul and brings tears of joy to your eyes as you let the notes cradle your heart from within your chest.
Rather than keep attempting to convince you that you should read it too as I fumble for the right words to describe why I feel this book is so amazing, I’ll leave you with this.
Pick up a copy of Winterset Hollow for yourself as soon as you can. Take your time enjoying Durham’s beautiful storytelling as he leads you through this truly delicious dark fantasy. It’s dark, violent in parts, heartbreaking, and wrapped in the joyous wonder of our favorite childhood memories of all our favorite fairy tales and books.
This is the best book I’ve read this year for sure, and possibly the best book I’ve read in the last few years as well. Instantly went into my top 5 all time favorite books and I can’t wait to visit Addington Isle and Winterset Hollow again. Much like The Hobbit, this is one to add to the “comfort reads” shelf of books that I like to revisit like old friends every so often. My only gripe about this book – that there isn’t a short addition to the back of the book that includes the lyrical version of ‘Winterset Hollow’ by Addington that is spread throughout this book!
As such Winterset Hollow by Jonathan Edward Durham gets 5 out of 5 stars.
If you follow my advice and read this brilliant book, please do reach out and let me know what you think!
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