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Book Review: Hawthorn Woods by Patrick Canning

Hawthorn WoodsHawthorn Woods by Patrick Canning
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy from a publisher in exchange for an honest review!

Synopsis: Summer, 1989. Reeling from a catastrophic divorce she just can’t seem to leave behind, Francine Haddix flees San Francisco for a two-week stay at her sister’s house in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois. The quaint neighborhood of shady trees and friendly neighbors seems like the perfect place to sort through her pain and finally move on with her life—but the tranquility doesn’t last long.

Beginning with a complete stranger throwing a drink in her face at her own welcome party, Francine soon discovers the supposedly idyllic suburb is hiding a disturbing number of mysteries. Why is the handsome-ish guy next door lying about who he is? What’s hidden in the back of the teenage troublemaker’s shed? Who wrote a threatening message in blood? Which of the smiling neighbors has a secret they’d kill to keep?

Seeking to reclaim a natural passion for sleuthing numbed by her divorce, Francine rewrites her prescription from one of relaxation to one of investigation. If she can detect the lies, follow the clues, and remember how to trust herself, she might get to the bottom of what’s so very wrong in Hawthorn Woods. She might even be able to believe the future can be good again—assuming she lives long enough to be in it.


So the reason why I became interested in Hawthorn Woods is that it's being compared to Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty and Stranger Things tv show both which I absolutely loved. While the book gave some Big Little Lies vibes I didn't quite catch the Stranger Things mood. Maybe it's because I didn't live in the 80's so I didn't get most of the references. But then again, I almost never catch any Easter eggs from books or tv series anyway.

The story was a bit slow to start and I had trouble getting interested in the beginning but when it truly got going around page 120 I was hooked. I read most of the book in one night because I couldn't put it down and got seriously sleep deprived because of that. I didn't see most of the plot twists coming and that was a pleasure. Some things totally surprised me and had to feverishly keep reading which is always a nice experience. Still I feel that the mystery element could've been done a bit better and smoother and in a way that would have hooked the reader sooner rather than later.

The characters were really interesting especially our main gal Francine Haddix. She was well rounded up and I feel I got a good picture of what she was like. I wish the same could be said of other characters but most of them were just briefly mentioned or just some details were revealed and I think the reader would have benefited if there would've been more about everyone from all of the neighbors to the suspects and suspicious characters. That would have allowed more guessing about whodunnit because now there really was just two suspects.

I really enjoyed seeing Francine's relationship with her nephew. I would have liked more about her ex-husband but I feel the length of the book got in a way of that. If the book would have been a bit longer maybe we would have gotten to know more. It would have been interesting to see more of her previous marriage explored because that too was one of the reasons I was interested in the book. Also I feel that Francine's relationship with Roland Gerber, one of the suspects, would have felt more realistic if the reader could have seen more of it developing. Now it felt kinda rushed and the trust Francine showed to him by talking openly about her divorce seemed a bit weird and sudden. Also the love interest of the book was a bit obvious- here's one single dude so he must be the romantic interest. I liked that he was quirky but, again, the length of the book didn't really allow that relationship to be fully explored either.

The questionnaire at the beginning of each chapter was a nice addition and I enjoyed how it got incorporated to the story in the end. Also I liked the cover well enough. It wasn't ugly but it also wasn't something I would have picked up on my own from a library or a bookstore. I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but..

All in all the story was nicely wrapped up in the end and after the slow start the story got really fast-paced towards the end!

3 bunnies

x Book Bunny


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