Book Review : The Witchwood Knot

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review : The Witchwood KnotThe Witchwood Knot by Olivia Atwater
Published by Starwatch Press on November 28th 2023
Genres: Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology, Fantasy & Magic
Buy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Bookshop.org
Find on Goodreads
three-stars
Source: NetGalley

Olivia Atwater returns to the world of Half a Soul with “a sharp and beautiful gothic romance” (Alix E. Harrow). Dive into The Witchwood Knot, and enjoy a dark faerie tale set in a magical version of Victorian England.
The faeries of Witchwood Manor have stolen its young lord. His governess intends to steal him back.
Victorian governess Winifred Hall knows a con when she sees one. When her bratty young charge transforms overnight into a perfectly behaved block of wood, she soon realises that the real boy has been abducted by the Fair Folk. Unfortunately, the lord of Witchwood Manor is the only man in England who doesn’t believe in faeries—which leaves Winnie in the unenviable position of rescuing the young lord-to-be all by herself.
Witchwood Manor is bigger than its inhabitants realise, however, and full of otherworldly dangers. As Winnie delves deeper into the other side of the house, she enlists the aid of its dark and dubious faerie butler, Mr Quincy, who hides several awful secrets behind his charming smile. Winnie hopes to make her way to the centre of the Witchwood Knot through wit and cleverness… but when all of her usual tricks fail, who will she dare to trust?

When I saw Olivia Atwater, the author of the charming Small Miracles and the Regency Faerie Tale series (home to delights like Ten Thousand Stitches and Half a Soul), had written a spooky continuation of the latter’s world, I knew I had to read it. Like all of her novels, The Witchwood Knot features a charming and quirky romance as well as a strong female protagonist, Winnifred “Winnie” Hall, who is dealing with the often catastrophic fallout of faeries. 

 

“There has always been something wrong with Witchwood Manor, ever since Lord Longfell had it built. At first, it was less noticeable–little noises in the dead of night, and whispers in the halls. But then…the servants started leaving. Some disappeared entirely.*”

 

Unlike the former entries in Atwater’s world, this novel takes place in the Victorian Era, rather than that of the Regency. Fans of Victorian novels might be disappointed that this setting doesn’t play more of a role in the novel, but it’s really just a briefly mentioned backdrop. The main action revolves around the home in which Winnie finds herself employed in as (a very reluctant), governess. Winnie quickly discovers that the eponymous Witchwood Manor is home to more than just the ailing lady of the house and the few servants who can bear to work there.

But The Witchwood Knot is unlike Atwater’s other novels in that it asks the question: are fairies really the true monsters of the world? Winnie is more traumatized than Atwater’s previous heroines, which is handled with sensitivity and realism. Though I found her backstory incredibly compelling, I did, at times, think that this clever and resourceful heroine was a little too calm and level-headed for what she had been through in the past. Despite finding her ability to think so quickly and rationally on her feet in times of great danger and emotionally triggering situations a little difficult to believe, I still found Winnie to be an interesting and complex main character with a lot of admirable qualities.

 

I also really enjoyed the darker atmosphere and tone of this novel. It’s certainly less cozy than the others of Atwater’s works I read, but it never came across as too spooky or chilling to me, in spite of being marketed as a gothic novel. I couldn’t help but to feel like The Witchwood Knot  wanted to be both scary and gothic as well as sweet and charming, but that it didn’t quite find the right balance to both of these things. Though I enjoyed both of these elements, I couldn’t help but to wish that the novel had fully committed to one of the tones.

 

“There were no easy answers to her current dilemma. Sometimes, faerie cruelty was simply inescapable.”

 

For example, the darker elements of the novel pertained to the male lead, which made it hard to support his romance with Winnie. For much of the novel, he was a main and sinister antagonist working from the shadows to thwart Winnie, so I wasn’t quite sure he was even actually supposed to be the love interest for her for most of the novel. Though it was hard for me to see this character in a different light, it did end up working for me, just not as well as I think it could have or as it did in Atwater’s previous novels.

 

I think it’s also worth noting that The Witchwood Knot does include references to Atwater’s previous novels. Unfortunately, I read these books over a year ago, and have a very poor memory, so I wasn’t able to fully appreciate these references as they were intended. Though The Witchwood Knot is the first in a new series, and the references ultimately aren’t that pertinent to the novel, this may not be the best book to get started with when exploring the author’s works. However, it certainly sets up well for future entries in the series and I’m very interested to see where it all goes.

 

I will definitely pick up new entries in the series, as I’m very invested in the world and its characters. I think fans of Olivia Atwater’s previous books and new readers who are looking for a fantasy read with spooky-but-not-too-spooky vibes will really enjoy The Witchwood Knot. 

 

*All quotes taken from an ARC and subject to change at time of publication.

 

 

three-stars
Divider
Book Review : The Witchwood Knot - Blogging with Dragons

Posted November 9, 2023 in ARCS, Book Reviews, Fantasy

Tags: , , ,

2 responses to “Book Review : The Witchwood Knot

    • Yes, I was surprised it took place in the same world too! It was a pleasant surprise, just wish I could’ve remembered some more details from her other books. I hope you enjoy reading it!

Geek Out:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.