I received an ARC of Willow Born through NetGalley. I requested this ARC because the blurb was awesome and I was quite in love with the cover as well. But seriously, mostly because of the blurb, because it totally won me.
Willow is catapulted into the present time, and realises that she comes from a long line of witches. She tries to solve a serial killer mystery, while sorting out her feelings for a guy and finding out more about her family.
This book is #ownvoices.
I really wanted to enjoy this book because the premise is excellent. However, there were some things I just couldn’t ignore.
I’m a huge badminton player, I’ve been playing since I was 10, with some breaks (I’m taking a break at the moment). So you can imagine my excitement, when I realised that badminton would be featured in this book. However, I was really really really disappointed. Most of the badminton players I know get knee injuries on the long-term because of badminton is NOT low-impact for knees – the sports teacher in this story says it’s not low-impact. Also, no sports teacher would let people play with huge pearl necklaces because the badminton racquet or the person’s hand could get caught in the necklace, which is dangerous!
I thought that the love interest was really creepy, like seriously, sending guys to escort Collete everywhere, to make sure that she is safe. In real life, this wouldn’t be romantic, and in real life, I don’t think she’d have dealt with it the way she did in the book.
I felt like the curse made sense, however not the reasoning behind it. Highlight for spoiler: The cursed person didn’t sacrifice her lover’s heart, since he obviously didn’t love her, if he wasn’t going to free her.
The only bisexual character is this book is the evil one, and she dies in the end. Other than that, there aren’t any LGBTQIA+ characters. The only character with a disability has magical powers that are directly linked to his disability. The ableist word “spaz” is used.
All of the characters weren’t nuanced at all but read more like stereotypes to me. From the beginning of the story, Collette can already tell who is awful and the novel is mainly just about her bringing that person down. I thought I would be getting a story that would discuss the Willow witches in detail, and also clear up what had been happening in the past (the past is mentioned a bit but not in much detail, so the reader is left not knowing exactly what was going on). I guess this will be discussed in the next book but this novel felt unfinished to me since several questions I had were not answered.
I also found the writing was lacking in structure and that it made for a confusing read. The ideas were excellent but it wasn’t excecuted properly, so I as a reader, was sometimes confused about who certain characters were and what was going on.
The worldbuilding was also lacking. I felt that it was inconsistent and I didn’t understand why some magical things were happening and how they were happening.
I didn’t enjoy Willow Born as much as I thought I would, which I was quite sad about because I really wanted to enjoy this book. I truly liked the main plotline and thought it was a fascinating story, and really quite interesting. I just wish the rest of the book would have been better.
If you’re an #ownvoices reviewer and you’d like me to link up your review (doesn’t matter which rating), I’d be open to adding it to this review.
Trigger warnings: rape, physical abuse.
Have you read Willow Born? Did you like it?