Winterset Hollow by Jonathan Edward Durham

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Winterset Hollow tells the story of a community of animals and about every person this story has touched.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily. 

Winterset Hollow was the story of a community of animals that never saw a sour day until an ever-curious rabbit named Runnymeade poked his nose outside of their sacred grounds and spooked a pack of war-weary buffalo that were moving west in search of better lands and sweeter food. It was a simple tale about a naive tribe’s first brush with the real world and the first Barley Day feast that almost wasn’t,

Jonathan Edward Durham. Winterset Hollow (Kindle Locations 432-435). Credo House Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Book Cover Winterset Hollow by Jonathan Edward Durham

Jonathan Edward Durham, born near Philadelphia, has been a voracious reader in his youth. He received a degree in neuroscience from William & Mary. Still, it didn’t take him long to realise he was better suited for more artistic endeavours.

As a writer, he aims to bring together the timeless wonder of his favourite childhood stories and the pop sensibilities of his teenage literary reading in a new way.

Winterset Hollow is his debut novel – a contemporary fantasy with a dark twist. 

Winterset Hollow – Summary

The narrative alternative between two parts. On the one side is the story of the animals of Winterset Hollow and on the other the present day.

Once a year, the animals send out coupons for a free ferry ride for September 7 – Barley Day. The present-day narrative covers the story of those who take advantage of the free coupons and decide to visit Addington Isle. It is the home of Edward Bartholomew Addington – the author of the Winterset Hollow story. 

Edward was from a wealthy family and built the Victorian mansion on Addington Isle. It soon became the hub for the high society of the Pacific Northwest. Winterset Hollows made him famous, but after his death, the mansion was left empty and deserted.

A visit to Addington Isle

Many fans came every year to pay homage to the author. The last group included John Eamon Buckley, his two friends, and others they met on the trip. At first, the group just looks at the mansion from afar. But they manage to access the grounds after exploring a bit. 

They found their way to the mansion, and it surprise them to find the famous animal characters from the Winterset Hollow story. They meet Runny, the rabbit with his fake leg, and Flackwell, the frog, who fed them a feast. And the grumpy Binghamton bear (or Bing as his friends call him.) And, of course, Finn the fox, the master of the hunt.

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After enjoying a sumptuous meal with the animals, the group face the real meaning of Barley Day. Let the hunt begin….

What did I like?

Winterset Hollow is a complex novel playing out on two alternating levels. It tells the story of the animals of Winterset Hollow. And the author’s fans who visit the mansion yearly on Barley Day.

The sections about the animals from Winterset Hollow gives a subtle hint to what readers can expect next in the narrative. 

In the beginning, the hunt makes no sense. Still, as we progress through the story, we discover the animal’s true story – so very much different than the one told by Edward Bartholomew Addington.

Since Eamond is the last living descendant of the writer, this year will be the last Barley Day hunt, and the animal’s revenge will be complete. 

The beginning of a fantasy

The reader enters the fantasy world when Eamon sees Runny for the first time, and the animals show human characteristics. At first, they are all treated well and given a tour of the mansion. And then they and the animals share a feast cooked by Flackwell. But things take a sudden turn at the end of the meal…

It’s time for the hunt,” said Runny without an ounce of theater. “Hurry now … time is fleeting,” he continued, shifting his gaze until it was firmly fixed on the hourglass, a subtle maneuver that prompted a sudden flurry of uncomfortable chatter from his guests.

Jonathan Edward Durham. Winterset Hollow (Kindle Locations 2053-2055). Credo House Publishers. Kindle Edition

The reader finally understands why Eamon’s father has raised him the way he did – teaching him the survival skills he never needed until now. Eamon requires the same skills to keep himself and his friends safe and give them a fighting chance to make it through the night. 

The themes in Winterset Hollow

The novel shows how often things are not the way they appear and that you shouldn’t always take things at face value. Even though, at first, it seems as if the animals had a good life, the ugly truth is soon revealed.

And even though Eamon didn’t have anything to do with their plight, and we root for him and his friend’s survival, we can understand why the animals want to take revenge on all descendants of Edward Bartholomew Addington.

Winterset Hollow makes us aware of the horrors of hunting as a sport, especially to impress others with the many trophies on display. 

A simple cover

I like the simplicity of the cover. A simple line sketch of a rabbit against a white background – forming a contrast with the dark nature of the story. 

Mockup of Winterset Hollow

And not so much?

It took me a while to get into the book. I felt a disconnect between the dark fantasy I had expected and the actual events in the book’s first part. It is only in Chapter 7 that events took a turn, and the terror of the hunt draws me in. . .

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The long chapters also mean that the pacing is relatively slow, even in the parts describing the hunt. Even though the many descriptions of the mansion and the surroundings is necessary to set the scene, I would expect the pace to pick up once the hunt begins. 

Should you read Winterset Hollow?

Winterset Hollow is not for everyone. Many readers will enjoy the poetic nature of the narrative telling the story of the animals of Winterset Hollow. And the descriptive language the author uses to describe the opulence of the mansion and the nature of Runny, Flackwell, Bing, and Finn.

The readers are rooting for Eamon and his friends to survive the hunt. Still, the author also clearly portrays the animals’ motivation for the hunt, thereby garnering sympathy from the reader. 

Great characterisation, the backstory exploring Eamons’ past, and the descriptions of the mansion’s opulence do make Winterset Hollow a book worth reading.

Other dark fantasies I have reviewed are Room 119 or check out the pre-historical novel The Drowning Land.

 

Winterset Hollow centres around the revenge of the animals for the wrongs they have experienced. Even though the author builds a solid case to motivate their revenge, it still seems unfair to extend their revenge to the author’s descendants. Do you agree, or do you think the animals’ actions were justified? We would love to hear from you. Would you please reply in the comments?

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Book Info 

Language:

English

Print Length:

308 pages

Publication Date:

6 May 2017

Text-to-Speech | Screen Reader | Enhanced Typesetting | Word Wise

Categories: Medical Thrillers

Trigger Warnings: Euthanasia | Marital Violence | Sexual References | Profanity

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Hi! I am Susan

Welcome to my adventure

Why Read or Rot?

I have started reading at the age of four. I can remember how I often read under the covers with a flashlight when I was supposed to sleep.

During my early school years, we visited the library once a week. I couldn’t pick out my new book fast enough! By the end of the period, I would have finished it already, leaving me with nothing to read for the rest of the week!

Growing up, Fridays was the highlight of my week. Dad would pack the whole family into the car, and off we go! You guessed right – to the library! We were a family of readers.

In my adult years, I’ve developed a variety of interests like technology, photography, gardening and even writing. But reading was and will always be a part of my life!

Reading for me is like breathing. If I cannot read, my soul will quietly rot away

Author Bio

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