Shortly after the death of her father, Willow Lamott also loses her lifetime best friend Ashton Keller. Although Ashton has been convicted as a killer and locked up in juvie for four years, Willow continues to stand by him and defend him to a town which is eager to believe the worst of their founder’s grandson.
When Ashton is released early, he returns to Gilt Hollow determined to prove his innocence and exact revenge if not justice. Ashton, who was convicted on the testimony of former friends, believes he has been abandoned by everyone who loved him including his best friend Willow and treats her with contempt. Willow resents and is angered by his attitude towards her, wondering if she has been wrong about her faith in Ashton all along.
Ashton’s quest for vengeance and Willow’s weakness for the boy she grew up loving, eventually draws them together in a reluctant partnership to find out the truth of the night that ruined both their lives.
I’ll be honest. I chose to read Gilt Hollow because the cover grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go. Although, the Young Adult genre is one I am slowly exploring and learning to love, it is not generally my first choice for reading material. This book also fits well within the genre of romantic suspense which I delve into occasionally, but not often.
Still Gilt Hollow is a book that I couldn’t put down! One thing I do love in fiction is a gothic mystery and this definitely had the atmosphere of one, despite being a contemporary tale. From the rundown, somewhat eerie Victorian mansion abandoned by Ashton’s family when they also abandoned him, to the malevolent, anonymous actions threatening Ashton and Willow, this story definitely has a spooky feel about it.
Gilt Hollow is a quirky, artsy town, which I really enjoyed visiting despite the darker undertones and secrets brewing beneath its surface. Having grown up in the Bible Belt it’s hard for me to imagine a place where yarn-bombing trees, dreadlocks and hippie culture would be the norm. Besides her staunch defense of Ashton, Willow stands out in her school because she is more traditional in nature, with a classic preppy style and a serious, studious personality.
Usually in stories like this the misunderstood, potentially dangerous boy or girl is from the wrong side of the tracks. I liked how the author did the unexpected by making Ashton the scion of a wealthy family with deep roots in the community who is nurtured by and bonds with Willow’s average American family.
Despite both of them feeling abandoned and rejected by each other, I loved how Willow and Ashton’s former bond and understanding of each other brings them back together. In some ways, their story breaks my heart because they each suffered from the dual tragedies of her father’s death and Ashton’s conviction, neither of which they had any control over. When they needed each other the most, they were torn apart.
I also experienced anger at how Ashton was convicted and the way the town treated both of them considering they were fourteen at the time of the initial events. This anger allowed me to understand and empathize with Ashton’s desire for revenge, even if I didn’t agree with it.
Overall, this is a book that transported me to another world and also stirred a lot of emotions in me. These are a few of the markers of what I believe makes a good story and this is one which will haunt me for a while. After I finished this book, I realized that it is written by an author I have heard of before, but never read. After finishing Gilt Hollow, I will be checking out Lorie Langdon’s much lauded co-authored Doon series.
For images which inspired this novel check out the author’s Pinterest page. And don’t pass up the chance to read this unusual story!