Book Review – Escape from Witchwood Hollow by Jordan Elizabeth

23351890Title: Escape from Witchwood Hollow

Author: Jordan Elizabeth

Genre: Teen & Young Adult

Series or Standalone: Standalone

Summary

Everyone in Arnn – a small farming town with more legends than residents – knows the story of Witchwood Hollow: if you venture into the whispering forest, the witch will trap your soul among the shadowed trees.

After losing her parents in a horrific terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, fifteen-year-old Honoria and her older brother escape New York City to Arnn. In the lure of that perpetual darkness, Honoria finds hope, when she should be afraid.

Perhaps the witch can reunite her with her lost parents. Awakening the witch, however, brings more than salvation from mourning, for Honoria discovers a past of missing children and broken promises.

To save the citizens of Arnn from becoming the witch’s next victims, she must find the truth behind the woman’s madness.

How deep into Witchwood Hollow does Honoria dare venture?

4 STARS

Review

I don’t typically read books in the teen/young adult genre, but I was approached by the author, Jordan Elizabeth, who offered me a free copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

From a presentation standpoint, the electronic version of this book is beautifully rendered. I typically read on the Kindle app on my Asus tablet. However, I was able to read this book with ease using the reader app that came with the Windows 10 upgrade.

The story itself moves at a suitable pace, switching seamlessly between past and present, subtly and effectively weaving together different lives and times in preparation for an ending that was both surprising and satisfying.

My issues with the story are twofold, though both are relatively minor. First, I thought that the character development, particularly in the case of Honoria, was lacking. In spite of the fact that she lost both of her parents, in spite of the fact that she is the new girl at school and in the small town of Arnn, she seems surprisingly well adjusted. She has some struggles, some internal and external strife, but I guess I expected more. I feel that some more internal struggle would have helped to address my second issue with the story, that of the story itself.

While I felt that the story moved at a suitable pace, I don’t feel there was enough conflict spread throughout the book. While I never minded coming back to the book for a quick five-minute read, or to delve more deeply for half an hour or more, I never had a problem putting the book down either. I never felt as though I had to get back to the book to see what was going to happen next.

In spite of the issues I had, I thought there was some very good writing throughout the book. Had there been some more character development along with some additional conflict, this would have been an excellent book.

Bottom line: Though character development and conflict, Escape From Witchwood Hollow is a solid book. I’d like to read more from Jordan Elizabeth.

Advertisements

Album Review: Steven Wilson 

61xEuokJStL._SL1001_

5 STARS

Steven Wilson is a multi-instrumentalist, producer, and four-time Grammy nominee. He is also the founder of prog-rock stalwarts Porcupine Tree founder; is co-founder of Blackfield, No Man, and Storm Corrosion; and, he is a highly-acclaimed solo artist.

4 ½, Wilson’s fifth solo offering, is only 37 minutes. But it is 37 minutes of typical Steven Wilson brilliance. Opening the album is “My Book of Regrets.” Recorded in June 2015, it would have sounded at home on Hand. Cannot. Erase. The song opens with a simple guitar riff, slowly building a sonic wall with Nick Beggs’s bass guitar and Craig Blundell’s drumming. And then, in typical Steven Wilson style, there is a small, musically-introspective interlude, and then it’s back to the races again, with Nick Beggs weaving a complicated bass line into Dave Kilminster’s blazing guitar solo. Between all of this is Adam Holzman’s keyboard work and Steven Wilson’s guitar, both of which serve as textural threads that hold it all together. The lyrics tell the story of a woman watching life and the world happen all around her. All the while, she is unable to break out of her own seemingly self-imposed isolation, choosing rather to place her observations of the world in her book of regrets.

“Year of the Plague,” written and recorded during The Raven That Refused to Sing sessions, is a sparse, delicate, and beautiful instrumental, one of those Steven Wilson songs that elicits a lot of emotion – in this case, sadness – from the listener. I know of no other musician who is as adept as Steven Wilson of affecting the listener’s emotions. He paints darkness and sadness with musical notes.

The third song, “Happiness III,” was written and recorded during the Hand. Cannot. Erase. sessions. It is a straightforward rock song featuring some great guitar playing by Guthrie Govan’s, Nick Beggs on bass, and Marco Minnemann on drums. Lyrically, the song seems to be about a loner who is inept and cruel when dealing with other people.

“Sunday Rain Sets In,” another song from the Hand. Cannot. Erase. sessions is another of those texturally complex, multi-layered instrumentals by Steven Wilson that has me reaching for a razor or a bottle of pills. So beautiful, yet so sad. There is a moment of frantic and chaotic abandon at about the 3:45 mark that sounds as if King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” got loose in the studio. And then. as soon as the moment begins, it is done.

“Vermillioncore,” another instrumental, is a blend of  jazz fusion, progressive metal, a subtle ode to King Crimson. It is a very complex and busy song held together by a thread of odd keyboard samplings.

“Don’t Hate Me” is an old Porcupine Tree song from 1999’s Stupid Dream album, reimagined. The use of Ninet Tayeb on the vocal refrains, along with the interplay between Nick Beggs (bass). Adam Holzman (keyboards), and Theo Travis (saxophone) during the song’s midsections, highlight what is an interesting and ambitious remake of a really good Porcupine Tree song.

Bottom line: Steven Wilson has a knock for surrounding himself with other great musicians. This record is no exception. The playing throughout is exquisite. Labeled an interim album between his fourth studio album Hand. Cannot. Erase. and his yet-to-be recorded fifth effort, is a satisfying, albeit short record. There is enough depth and complexity to keep his fans satisfied until the release of his next album. The album is also accessible enough to win him some new fans.