I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
The Witching Elm was an intriguing read that was nothing like what I expected. It's odd, the characters and voice seemed middle-grade. But take note of the genre-- dark fantasy. The story was dark, haunted by death and torment. I think the best thing about this novel was the blend of historical events with magic, legend, and fantasy. It created a unique story line.
The novel started out with a bang-- an invasion by a powerful army intent on fishing out hidden covens. As the town was burning to the ground, main character Toby's father sent him away to safety. Toby landed in Boston at an elite boarding school. Everything happened in a whirlwind of confusion, and it took a while for the authors to explain how Toby's world and the world he was sent to were connected. I can't go into it because that would entail major spoilers-- just know that if you start out confused, keep reading, all will be explained.
While I thought the plot was intriguing and loved the combination of real history with a fantasy realm, I was never completely pulled into the story. I liked the characters-- even though there were many, they were all interesting and well-developed. Looking back, I think the overall voice of the novel just wasn't a hit for me. The story was so dark, yet the narration seemed young-- a contrast that didn't work for me. When I say dark, I mean everything. There was a pervasive darkness woven throughout that created a rich, yet heavy atmosphere.
That aside, expect action, adventure, and intrigue in this dark YA fantasy. If you like fantasy merged with reality, I think you'll enjoy The Witching Elm.