Birch

A Witch Tree

Fiction - Paranormal
350 Pages
Reviewed on 09/18/2021
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Jennifer Hotes is author of the Seattle-based Josie Jameson mystery series that Kirkus Reviews called, “A dark supernatural adventure with Josie Jameson at the epicenter as she discovers her gift is also her curse.”

Raised across the river from a nuclear reactor, Jennifer thought two-headed animals at the county fair were normal until she moved to the big city. According to her father, Jennifer has been looking at the world through a cracked kaleidoscope since she was born and has been writing since her parents pushed her crib against a blank wall.

Fortunate enough to marry her best friend, they are avid travelers that call Washington and California home. Parents to two fierce adult children that are busy casting their own positive ripples into the world, they share space with two cats and one unruly pup.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Birch: A Witch Tree is a work of fiction in the paranormal fantasy sub-genre, and was penned by author Jennifer Hotes. The work is suitable for the general reading audience, but it does contain some mild sexual references and moments of horror and dark fantasy that younger readers may find distressing. Our central character is Megan, who has left her small-town upbringing behind to achieve a better life in the great wide world. But when the sudden death of her father, Preacher, brings her home, old memories surface of the birch tree where he died and the witch whom Megan made a pact with on that same spot many years ago.

Author Jennifer Hotes captures a stunning moment of small-town horror in her dark novel Birch. In terms of craftsmanship, the plot creation and pacing are second to none, with clever use of flashbacks to weave a tapestry together that slowly builds the story and gives readers new surprises along the way. I enjoyed the post-mortem development of Preacher’s character and how my perception of him changed. Throughout the story, Megan’s growth - based on what she researches and experiences - creates a fully formed woman you feel for on a deep level. All of this ramps up those final few chapters, leaving readers on the edge of their seats as we wonder who the real witch is and what will come of those dark dealings done in the shadows of that fateful tree. Overall, I would highly recommend Birch to readers who enjoy dark paranormal fiction and fantasy horror: an unmissable read.

Tiffany Ferrell

Megan Davenport left her mother and father’s home at seventeen when she was accepted into college early. Unable to keep living a lie, she couldn’t help but feel that her preacher father would be better off with his gay daughter out of the picture. Always meaning to come back home at some point, time suddenly runs out when she gets a call from her mother that her father has unexpectedly died. Going back to her hometown, she suddenly remembers the witch that was buried in the yard. Not sure if the ghost of Sarah James is haunting her family, or if she just imagined things, she can’t deny the fact that the grave and the birch tree had something to do with his father’s sudden heart attack. After finding charms from a bracelet that her father gave her as a child, Megan and her mother decide to dive deeper in hopes of finding out who Sarah James was and what exactly she wanted from them. Was Sarah a witch, or were the tales of what she did nothing more than a fabrication that turned into urban legend? Find out in Birch by Jennifer Hotes.

I haven’t read a book this good in quite a while. The plot is so gripping, and I like the fact that it’s the story of a woman who lost her father but with a supernatural subplot that keeps the reader on their toes. I also liked that it was fast-paced, which caught and kept my attention right until the end. I enjoyed the main character, and it was really easy to relate to Megan. Jennifer Hotes has done a great job with Birch: A Witch Tree, and I can’t wait to read more of her work.

Susan Sewell

A woman's spirit bound to a tree haunts the nearby family in the eerie paranormal novel Birch: A Witch Tree by Jennifer Hotes. Since she was a child, Megan had dreams about the woman buried beneath the birch in her front yard. After bullies had left her crying under the tree, Megan made a pact with the witch. The ghost would protect Megan, and one day Megan would set the woman free. However, as the years pass, Megan forgets her promise, moves away, and doesn't return. When Preacher, Megan's father, dies while trying to hack down the birch with an ax, she goes home for the first time in a decade. Nightmares related to the birch had already started before she went home, but once there, their intensity increased. The witch reminded Megan of her promise and demanded her release. Did Preacher have the same experiences with the grieving spirit? Can Megan find a way to give the soul the freedom she seeks?

Fraught with spine-tingling scenes, Birch: A Witch Tree by Jennifer Hotes is a hair-raising and unforgettable paranormal novel. Well-written, the story has a tense and blood-curdling plot, an eerie setting, and a frightening ghostly apparition. The storyline has a beautiful arc and moves at an ideal pace to keep reader interest and apprehension alive, culminating in a thrilling conclusion. Realistically portrayed, the protagonist's emotional distress and angst add to the atmosphere and horror that stains the scenes. It is a nightmare-inducing LGBTQ story that will chill everyone who enjoys tales that include ghosts and witches.