Once upon a time there was a witch. She was a kind witch, but that didn’t matter. The people were afraid, and fear often turns to hatred.
When Artemis was thirteen, her best friend Aris was swallowed by the crumbling house they found in the woods. Like a coward, she abandoned him to the horror within.
She moved away. She tried to forget. But when she finds herself back in her old neighborhood after college, the ghosts—and her guilt—are waiting. A charred figure stalks her dreams, and someone, or something, haunts her from the trees.
Going back into the woods might be the only way to save her sanity.
Because nine years later, the house is still there. Still waiting. Still restless.
*I would like to thank the publisher, The Narcissistic Rose, and NetGalley for the copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.
The first thing that catch my attention is the cover of this book. It’s lovely. And when I read the blurb, I am sold. The paranormal vibes to it intrigued me. Growing up, Artemis has always been fond of creepy stories. And when they move to Arrington, she found a kindred spirit with Aris. They’ve been inseparable since. But when she was thirteen, she lost Aris in a crumbling house they believed to be the witch’s house in her grandfather’s story. But no one wants to believe Artemis. There’s no house found in the woods, to begin with when they came back for Aris. She never set foot in the woods since and even moved away and try to forget. Nine years later, though, she finds herself back in Arrington. And in Aris’ old home which is now owned by her boyfriend, Link. It was the last place she’d rather be, but she was left with no choice. The moment she got back, nightmares and hallucinations started. The guilt she’s been feeling since Aris was swallowed by the house is catching up with her. Because instead of going after him, she ran away. And now, facing her fear of going into the woods might be the only way to stop the hallucinations and get her sanity back.
I find this novel interesting and I must admit I wasn’t expecting a lot from the story when I started reading. I was even surprised by how much I like it. It turned out to be pretty impressive. A perfect spooky read for Halloween. Not that scary but there’s a lingering eeriness that’s palpable all throughout. The tension buildup was done nicely and we immediately wonder what really happened with Aris and what Artemis got to do with it. Why is she haunted by it even after nine years has passed? What’s with the guilt and what seems to be hallucinations? And slowly, as the story progressed, all the questions were answered.
Told in Artemis’ perspective, she is okay as the main character, but I feel like she’s lacking. I get that she’s been in a trauma and it’s a lot to deal with, but I was also hoping that she’ll step up and be the strong lead she’s meant to be. Instead, for the most part, she’s tiring. I actually find the side characters more interesting. Like Fenton, Artemis’ boss and who shows a lot of interest on what really happened to her and Aris nine years ago. What’s more curious is how he easily believes about the house in the woods. I like his role in the story and he’s definitely my favorite character. He added extra mystery to it. I would have preferred if there’s more of him, though. Then, there’s Aris. His fascination with the witch’s house led to his disappearance. His body wasn’t found which gives hope to Artemis especially after seeing him on her dreams.
I like the idea of what could be a myth about a witch’s house in the middle of the forest turned out to be real. The aspect of which it only appears at certain times is quite fascinating. It’s just a bit disappointing that the witch story wasn’t explored as much as I like to. That would be a great addition, for sure. There’s also some twist that’s bound to surprise the readers and some that are predictable. The ending was not what I expected, but I was actually looking forward to a sinister ending. Nevertheless, it is a good one. Overall, it was an enjoyable read which I think younger readers will enjoy since it reads like a YA fiction. There are enough mystery and tension to keep you intrigued until the end.