A Spirited Read: Reviewing Colleen Hoover’s Paranormal Romance ‘Layla’

As someone who’s written more than 100 pieces for Her Campus, I find pride in sharing my work with the world. However, it’s not every day that an article of mine results in an opportunity like the one I’m about to tell you. After my last article about Colleen Hoover, I was contacted with an offer to receive an ARC, otherwise known as an advanced reader copy of Layla, Hoover’s new paranormal romance that hits the shelves December 8. 


Here is the back-cover synopsis for Layla


“When Leeds meets Layla, he’s convinced he’ll spend the rest of his life with her—until an unexpected attack leaves Layla fighting for her life. After weeks in the hospital, Layla recovers physically, but the emotional and mental scarring has altered the woman Leeds fell in love with. In order to put their relationship back on track, Leeds whisks Layla away to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. Once they arrive, Layla’s behavior takes a bizarre turn. And that’s just one of the many inexplicable occurrences. 


Feeling distant from Layla, Leeds soon finds solace in Willow—another guest of the B&B with whom he forms a connection through their shared concerns. As his curiosity for Willow grows, his decision to help her find answers puts him in direct conflict with Layla’s well-being. Leeds soon realizes he has to make a choice because he can’t help both of them. But if he makes the wrong choice, it could be detrimental for all of them.”


Below, you’ll read my initial reactions to this novel (no spoilers) before it hits bookshelves and stores in December.


Right off the bat, I experienced the hallmark of Hoover’s writing: the ability to become engulfed in the feelings of the blossoming bond between main characters. In this case, those two are Layla and Leeds. The meet-cute, you’re wondering? It was a charming bed-and-breakfast. The setting of the B&B was also very reminiscent of The Dragonfly Inn from Gilmore Girls, so what’s not to love about that?


As an avid Hoover reader, I wasn’t surprised at the ease I fell into love with the love of Layla and Leeds. So, naturally, when I read of the attack mentioned in the synopsis, I had to stifle a gasp, which was followed by a sob and an immediate application of a Band-Aid to counteract the paper cut I got from ferociously flipping to the next page. 


Also mentioned in the synopsis, during the return to the birthplace of their beautiful bond at the B&B, Leeds and Layla began to encounter some unexplainable events. In true Hoover fashion, a multitude of things attempt to darken the whirlwind romance… or should I say someone with the name of Willow?


The paranormal aspect of the novel was enough to make a ghostly non-believer think twice. I’m talking, I needed the lights on and a sweater to combat the chills. However, the spirit dynamic, like all parts of a good Colleen Hoover novel, takes a winding, enveloping shift through the story. This book is definitely out of the realm of a standard romance novel because your heart is simultaneously full of spirits and the spirit of the earthly lovers, Layla and Leeds.


Throughout the entire story, I was whisked through the treacherous webs of Leeds, Layla and their love triangle. However, I was struck by how I never fully “chose” one side or the other, which I believe is a testament to how well Hoover crafted the characters. The readers are provided with a push-and-pull narrative as the novel is set in two distinctly connected timelines. 


I was gripped from the first to the last page, which is also something I can say of all Colleen Hoover novels I’ve read. And do you know why I can say that? Because I think the longest it has taken me to read a Colleen Hoover novel would be two days. And by two days… I mean, I started a book, became immediately invested, couldn’t fight drooping eyelids and tore through the end of the book at damn near daybreak the next morning. 


Layla was no exception to this. 


I read this book in four hours. By the grace of college gods, I wasn’t too busy, so I devoted my whole morning to reading this cover-to-cover. Let’s just say, I’m also thankful I discovered Colleen as a senior in college because my attitude right now stands as CoHo books > college


I obviously cannot and will not tell you how this novel ends. But WOW. I’m so excited for other CoHorts to get a chance to read this novel come December. 


And thank you, Colleen, for another beautiful spine-chilling novel that will sit proudly next to all your other books on my shelf.