Review: The Willows: Haven by Hope Collier

Publication Date: October 1st, 2011
Soulfire Press
Format: Paperback, 284 pages
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

SUMMARY

When tragedy strikes, seventeen year-old Ashton Blake sets out on a cross-country road trip, leaving the comforts of Malibu for the mountains of Kentucky. Along the way, she encounters Gabe Willoughby—the mysterious drifter with eyes like the sea and a knowing smile. Getting to know Gabe raises questions about her past. But no secret can be buried forever, and Ashton soon finders herself in a world where water is air and myth becomes reality.

Just as Ashton comes to accept her newfound heritage, she’s summoned to fulfill a treaty laid down centuries before — a treaty that will divide her love and test her loyalty. In the end, her future isn’t her biggest concern, her humanity is. To run may mean war, but is she strong enough to stay?

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This book started out great for me. The air of mystery surrounding the beginning of this novel left me anxious and filled with uncontainable eagerness to devour it in one sitting. I’ve read quite a lot of books and I’ve always found that the set up for the story is usually the yard stick that measures how much it will keep me at attention. And for the first quarter of the book, I was positively excited to find out more.
Unfortunately, the pacing of this book sputtered that I soon found myself disinterested in the story. I seem to encounter the same problem when I read retellings of legends and myths. The author must be able to partake information in a way that will keep their readers engrossed. This was a huge stumbling block for me with Haven. I couldn’t keep up with the information overload. Ashton’s reaction to Gabe’s revelations didn’t help matters either. There was a lack of alarm on her part and was almost too accepting of the fact that she was a half-human. That’s not only time in the book where I found Ashton’s knee-jerk response to Gabe’s actions a bit questionable. Something happened toward the end of the book that I could not divulge where Ashton found herself betrayed. I felt that I harbored more anger than she did. She was easily placated which put her character in a weak light.
I never understood how quickly relationships developed in certain books and Haven has that insta-love syndrome as well.  Ashton proclaimed her love for Gabe so quickly. There was no built up. I can understand Gabe’s ardor toward Ashton because he’d pretty much watched her since infancy. But Ashton had only met Gabe for maybe a couple of days, tops. It’s a make or break factor when I’m reading a book. It’s also a hard sell so I’d have to be completely in love with the story before I can be convinced.
For originality’s sake, Haven’s myth is definitely unique among the books on my shelves. I’ve never read anything about nymphs and tree people before.  I also liked the world Ms Collier created – combining the modern with touches of whimsical elements in a fairy tale kind of way.
Overall, I wish I enjoyed this book a bit more. I wanted to love the characters but couldn’t. I was looking for some depth and found none. Perhaps if given a few more pages, this book would’ve lived to its potential.