The Folly on the Hill by: Richard Hayden

Synopsis

Eleanor Fields is leading an ordinary teenage life when her family moves to the small village of Mow Cop. As well as trying to settle into a new school and life, she soon finds herself in the middle of a centuries old battle for the very survival of our world.

Her fate was ordained centuries ago, the world of Imaginari is out there and one of the inhabitants, the Man Of Mow, wants to destroy our world to allow his to thrive.

Eleanor is the only one who can stop him, her destiny will push her strength to its very limits as she fights for us.

Imaginari has always been there.

It exists because we exist.

Imaginari is coming.

Evaluation

By the end of the first chapter, I knew I was going to love this story. By the end of the book, I knew everyone else would too.

Powerful Opening, Surprising Ending

The action in chapter one was well described, and the vagueness behind what happened was a successful hook to read the rest. Likewise, the ending was a surprise considering “Book 1” is sprinkled all throughout the blurb, title page and cover. Did I dislike the ending? I loved it; I loved that there was no sequel bait. Could you imagine if “book 1” had been more subtle and Hayden released a sequel after an ending like that? I would be terrified for the characters after what just happened.

Truthfully, I still am.

Ellie the Abnormal

The star of the book, Eleanor Fields or Ellie to her friends, was not the angsty, rebellious, boy-crazy teen girl you read in every other coming of age fiction. Ellie was practical, selfless, righteous, and she loved her parents and wasn’t afraid to show it. A natural born leader who’s mature for her age with softer emotional moments that made her feel realistic and human.

Hayden described Ellie with great insight to a mature teen girl’s life, feelings and interactions with friends. But with a pleasant twist to the typical “teen girl” personality that ideally suited Ellie for her destiny-ridden role in the book. Down to the final page, Ellie is wonderfully unpredictable, and a character you naturally fall in love with.

Read Like a Movie

There is a visual flow to the story that keeps everything in motion. To be honest, I’ve never read a writing style quite like this, so I’m not sure how to explain it. But that’s how it felt. The story was always visually in motion. I was able to see every scene and every character throughout the book as it was happening, and it felt a lot less like reading and a lot more like watching. From the action scenes that were verb-driven to the simpler scenes where Ellie is going to class or stitching in her bedroom, I was able to see all of it as it played out in words on the page. I absolutely loved that.

Best War Preparation Wasn’t a Speech

It was this:

“With a look over her shoulder at her parents, Ellie led the group out of the garden, through the house, and onto the street. She was leading them to her destiny.” (page 222)

And cue the theatrical war music! The progression of this chapter up to this point made this moment so powerful that I was drumming a battle theme on the book as I read on. I was hearing it play like a soundtrack in my head as these characters went to battle at the folly. One of the most successful climaxes I’ve ever read in my life.

Atypical Villain

Unlike the flesh and blood we fight in most stories, the villain Ellie fought wasn’t even truly identified until the end of the book. What she fought for the first 200 pages was faith. She resisted believing in what everyone else did until it became undeniable, and even then belief still needed a place and nothing ended up being what you would have guessed. The twists in this story were all so unpredictable, I loved it so much!

Downfalls

  • Unnecessary repetition: The history behind the folly and its origins was told at least five times throughout the book. Many times, those descriptions of something we WATCHED happen could have been used for more successful development toward the plot. More mystery, more clues, more than just repeating what we already knew.
  • Confusing plot twist: During the final battle, there was an instance where Ellie is fighting the evil spirit, and how she overpowers him confused me. Paragraphs of explanation existed within this action-driven final battle and it slowed down the impact of the action itself, but I also got lost in it all and seemed to only understand the HOW after pausing to reflect when the chapter was over.

Overall

An unforgettable tale with all kinds of unexpected personalities and plot twists. Curiosity draws you in, but it’s the mystery behind it all that makes you stay. That, and this insanely natural connection you develop with all of the characters. Especially Ellie who starts out your average teen girl and ends up being the descendant chosen to fulfill a prophecy she was not prepared for. Definitely worth a read, and hell…a film if I do say so myself.

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