THE WITCH OF THE HILLS by J.M. Fraser

THE WITCH OF THE HILLS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this fantasy/romance, a teenager’s destiny may encompass falling for a witch and saving a hidden realm of dreams while safeguarding his own world.

Heading to Wisconsin for college, Brian Danahey’s solo road trip is sidetracked by car trouble, an apparently empty tank. Luckily, Rebecca Church shows up and offers her cabin as a temporary refuge. She’s the girl of his dreams; that is, she looks just like the figure being pursued by a hangman in Brian’s recurring nightmare. Turns out Rebecca’s been waiting for Brian, certain he’s the one prophesied to stop an imagination-eating void from swallowing all of the World of Mortal Dreams. Without nourishment provided by the waking world’s cousin, people’s spirits will shrivel and die. Strictly adhering to the Witches Code, Rebecca can only relay information to Brian via riddles, dreams, or illusions. Starting with a book of Rebecca’s poems, Brian slowly learns about the other realm and the prophecy. He finds unexpected allies along the way as well as adversaries, particularly Abigail, an imp who hates Rebecca. More important, he untangles Rebecca’s intricate past: she’s effectively a prisoner, and Brian may be more determined to rescue the girl he loves than the dual worlds. Fraser’s (Faulty Bones, 2016) Romeo-and-Juliet tale brims with preternatural turns and diverting romance. Thwarting the void entails a few tortuous decisions, such as Rebecca having a limited number of times to see Brian before disappearing forever. But the young couple’s evolving relationship is the engaging story’s focus and true essence. The two are generally apart, making their shared scenes all the more endearing, while Fraser opts for more lighthearted humor than sweet nothings. Readers, for one, are treated to a glimpse of possessive Rebecca telling Brian’s video store co-worker: “I see you’re still hanging around my Brian!” Traversing another realm likewise allows for enjoyable appearances by a historical figure or two and a tie to a relevant, centuries-old event in Salem.

An often jaunty and thoroughly entertaining story of young love.

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher
Program: Kirkus Indie
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