BOOK REVIEW: The Willow Woman – by Laurence Westwood #buddyread

Title: The Willow Woman
(Philip Ye #1)

Author: Laurence Westwood
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
First published: January 7th 2019
Publisher: Shikra Press
Finished reading: August 8th 2019
Pages: 440

“He plays the game very well. But anyone who thinks Philip Ye is not his own master is blind. As a friend I would never turn my back on him, as an enemy I would never underestimate him.”

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*** First of all I have to say thank you to Kelly for introducing me to The Willow Woman and hosting a giveaway a while back and to the author Laurence Westwood for sending me a wonderful signed copy!! ❤ This hasn’t influenced my opinion about this book. ***

It doesn’t matter that there is a whole ocean and thousands of kilometres between us, thanks to the wonder of Twitter Nicki (Jersey in the Channel Islands) and myself (Argentina) are always able to make our buddy reads work. With only a few hours time difference, it was easy to catch up, discuss what was happening in the story, guess what would happen next and of course share the necessary photos of both book and the obligatory dose of sugar we found ourselves needing occasionally. 😉 It was without doubt another successful buddy read!! Make sure to read Nicki’s review as well if you want to find out exactly why and if we felt the same about this story.

I was curious about The Willow Woman as soon as I first saw Kelly mention it on her blog. I’m always in for a good detective thriller and the fact that the story has a (for me) foreign setting is a huge bonus. I haven’t had the chance to read many stories set in China before, and The Willow Woman was therefore a little goldmine filled with local culture. Oh yes, this story will transport you right to Chengdu with excellently elaborated descriptions of both the setting and Chinese culture in general. Both the local culture as well as the spirituality play a very important role in the development of the plot and the plot twists you will encounter along the way. Especially the spirituality was a very interesting touch, with many references to the spirit world and main character Philip Ye actually asking the spirits of the deceased to help him with the case. His beliefs are then contrasted in Xu Ya, who seems more pragmatic and doesn’t seem to believe in the paranormal. The inclusion of both Chinese culture and the paranormal aspect without doubt gave this detective story an unique twist and made this story stand out for me.

Another thing you notice almost straight away is just how complex this story is, and in a good way. While it’s true that the sheer amount of characters can be intimidating in the beginning, The Willow Woman has a very helpful index to check who is who and how they are related when in doubt. Trust me, you will find the index very helpful especially in the first couple of chapters! It will make juggling all those different characters so much easier and allows you to properly enjoy the story from the beginning. This story isn’t just complex due to the amount of characters though. The Willow Woman has an abundance of storylines and different point of views to revel in. These are used to build the plot and plot twists brick by brick and help you keep guessing about what is really going on. While it’s true that I made certain predictions about for example the professor and the boy that ended up being true quiet early on, there were also a lot of twists I could have never guessed. The story was getting more intriguing, complicated and intense by the minute and we both had to ease the tension with a dose of sugar more than once… Never underestimate the power of cake!

As for the characters… While there are a lot of them, the ones that stood out most for me (and won over my heart almost straight away) were probably Philip Ye, Xu Ya, Fatty Deng, Ma and Mouse. Each is well developed and plays an important role in this story, although the role of some might not seem as important straight away. I’m not sure I agreed with certain decisions of some characters, including Xu’s actions towards the ending, but that was more me biting my nails and shouting ‘why would you do that?!‘ rather than a reason to enjoy the story less. You will have to ready yourself for some intense moments, especially towards the explosive ending! But I really liked how everything was wrapped up. I also really appreciated how references to the so-called Willow Woman were incorporated into the plot and how this element was ultimately explained.

In short, The Willow Woman is both excellently written and well constructed; the intricate plot, foreign setting with insights in Chinese culture and spirituality, abundance of characters and what you can roughly call a conspiracy angle making for a most fascinating read. If you are a fan of detective thrillers and are looking for a story with an unique twist, you should definitely schedule yourself a meeting with Philip Ye.


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WWW Wednesdays #234 – August 21st

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

I’m baaaack!! ❤ I should have known not to take a break during #NEWTsReadathon2019 month, as I couldn’t resist reading a LOT for the readathon and spending a lot of time on Twitter anyway. xD Below an update of what I’ve been reading since my last WWW post three weeks ago!

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading three books for #NEWTsReadathon2019: a new Carol Wyer and sequel The Sleepover, which I will probably finish soon, the TBR jar pick The Cellar by Natasha Preston and the modern classic The Old Man And The Sea by Ernest Hemingway. I’ve had the last two on my TBR for quite some time, and I’m looking forward to finally read them.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Rose & The Dagger by Renee Ahdieh (4/5 stars) REVIEW 26/08
2. Dead Scared by Sharon Bolton (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW  25/08
3. The Archived by Victoria Schwab (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 25/08
4. An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena (4/5 stars) REVIEW 26/08
5. Apple Of My Eye by Claire Allan (4/5 stars) REVIEW 03/09

6. What You Did by Claire McGowan (3/5 stars) REVIEW 29/08
7. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (2,5/5 stars) REVIEW 08/09
8. The Willow Woman by Laurence Westwood (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 30/08
9. Outrun The Moon by Stacey Lee (4/5 stars) REVIEW 03/09
10. Date Night by Samantha Hayes (4/5 stars) REVIEW 23/08

11. The Sixth Wicked Child by J.D. Barker (5/5 stars) REVIEW 27/08
12. Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram (4/5 stars) REVIEW 08/09
13. To Drink Coffee With A Ghost by Amanda Lovelace (4/5 stars) REVIEW 16/09
14. 29 Seconds by T.M. Logan (4/5 stars) REVIEW 10/09
15. Twisted by Steve Cavanagh (5/5 stars) REVIEW 12/09

16. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 12/09
17. Smoke In the Sun by Renee Ahdieh (3/5 stars) REVIEW 15/09

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’ll be reading more #NEWTsReadathon2019 titles next… I’ll probably pick up Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco first, a title I’ve been meaning to read for ages. Then I’ll read Keeper by Johana Gustawsson, which I’m so SO excited about because it has Jack The Ripper references too and the first book was fantastic… I already have a feeling it will be a new favorite. I also want to read The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor. And I have a new TBR jar pick! The sequel The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson; I really enjoyed the first book so I have high hopes for this one. It’s also the third story that has references to Jack The Ripper on this list… xD


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