Winterset Hollow by Jonathan Edward Durham #BookReview #Thriller #DarkFantasy #Horror @thisone0verhere

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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just when you think maybe there are not many new subjects in your favorite genre that may catch your attention, there comes a book out of the blue that leaves you speechless and gasping for air. YES, I can say that a horror story has never left me with such an overwhelming feeling of loss that I could bawl my eyes out.

Jonathan Edward Durham’s debut is as phenomenal as it is evocative and I do not say that lightly. The writing is surely masterclass as each word elevates the story to heights that were erstwhile unimaginable.

“A pedestal is the most insidious prison ever devised.”
― Neal Shusterman, UnSouled

Have you ever dreamed about meeting your heroes and conjured up countless scenarios in your mind? Well, the three friends Eamon and Caroline are doing just that and Mark is along for the ride to be with his best friends, celebrating a book called Winterset Hollow that gave meaning to their life. For Eamon, it was the one link that saved him from insanity while Caroline loves it for the connection the book provides to her mother. So off they go to Addington Island to absorb the place where the story was conceived. The first part of the book had me feeling like Alice in Wonderland, of course, the book does reference it but it is exactly that, the rabbit, the fox, the frog, and the bear in the book are all real and living in the island and their journey became something more unbelievable than out of the world.

“But if you are going to wear blinders then you do not know the world.”
— Miriam Makeba

And then the ride begins…….
The author shifts direction and plunges the reader to icy cold water and thus unfolds the nightmarish terror as Eamon, Caroline, Mark and the other Winterset fans discover the truth of the tradition that follows Barley Day. Interspersed with a story of Winterset Hollow that forewarns the reader of the danger and occasional puzzles from Olivia, the owl, the tension keeps ratcheting up higher and higher. The violence is brutal and at most times, hard to stomach but it is admirable that the author laces the scenes with such pathos that I found it equal parts horrifying and tragic. I can positively go gaga over the author’s writing that it made me feel utterly lost for the pain of the antagonists and the ending, OH MY, crescendo.

“There’s beauty in the unknown, but there’s also beauty in truth” – Jonathan Edward Durham, Winterset Hollow

The relationship between the three friends is magical, the intense bond between them so heartfelt and touching and just like Eamon, I was worried about the outcome of a decision that he undertakes to learn the truth about his past. But the highlight of the novel for me would be the friendship between the rabbit and the frog, the banter and comfort between them leaping off the pages.

“There’s no me beyond the edge.”
– Jonathan Edward Durham, Winterset Hollow

Winterset Hollow is a story that is gonna leave permanent scars in your mind, a story that talks about love, sacrifice, betrayal, truths, horror, and tragedy that like peeling an onion, layer by layer, and finding an explosive core, the reader is made to feel a million complex emotions of happiness and sadness. The eerie and attractive cover image offers the perfect prelude to this stunning debut.

We have a saying in India, “jhatke pe jhatka” which kind of translates into “one shock after another”, Winterset Hollow was that and more, unquestionably a story like no other.

“Life is a funny thing, isn’t it? You spend it waiting for that one blinding moment of clarity… that one magic thread that sews it all together. And then one day, you wake up an older thing than you ever thought you’d be, and you realize you’ve wasted your days looking for something that was never really there at all.”
– Jonathan Edward Durham, Winterset Hollow

Tossed out in a thunderstorm and landed on the earth….

I am grateful to the author for offering me an ARC for review. All opinions are expressed voluntarily.

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Everyone has wanted their favorite book to be real, if only for a moment. Everyone has wished to meet their favorite characters, if only for a day. But be careful in that wish, for even a history laid in ink can be repaid in flesh and blood, and reality is far deadlier than fiction . . . especially on Addington Isle.Winterset Hollow follows a group of friends to the place that inspired their favorite book-a timeless tale about a tribe of animals preparing for their yearly end-of-summer festival. But after a series of shocking discoveries, they find that much of what the world believes to be fiction is actually fact, and that the truth behind their beloved story is darker and more dangerous than they ever imagined. It’s Barley Day . . . and you’re invited to the hunt.

Winterset Hollow is as thrilling as it is terrifying and as smart as it is surprising. A uniquely original story filled with properly unexpected twists and turns, Winterset Hollow delivers complex, indelible characters and pulse- pounding action as it storms toward an unforgettable climax that will leave you reeling. How do you celebrate Barley Day? You run, friend. You run.

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About The Author

Jonathan Edward Durham was born near Philadelphia in one of many rust-belt communities where he read voraciously throughout his youth. After attending the College of 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 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.

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