The Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox
Published by Graydon House on September 17, 2019
Genre: Gothic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Format: ARC, Print
Source: The Publisher
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I received an advance copy of this book from The Publisher.
Maine, 1846. Gabriel Stone is desperate to escape the ghosts that haunt him in Massachusetts after his wife's death, so he moves to Pale Harbor, Maine, where there is a vacancy for a new minister. Gabriel and his late wife had always dreamed of building their own church, and Pale Harbor is the perfect opportunity.
But not all is as it seems in the sleepy town of Pale Harbor. Strange, unsettling things have been happening, and the townspeople know that only one person can be responsible: Sophronia Carver, a widow who lives with a spinster maid in the decaying Castle Carver on the edge of town. Sophronia is a recluse, rumored to be a witch who killed her husband.
When Gabriel meets her, he knows the charming, beautiful woman cannot be guilty of anything. Together, Gabriel and Sophronia realize that the mysterious events have one thing in common: they all contain an element from the wildly popular stories of Mr. Edgar Allan Poe. And when the events escalate to murder, Gabriel and Sophronia must find the real killer, before it's too late for them both.
The Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox has it all: mystery, suspense, romance, and a young widow who may or may not be a murderer (and a witch). Add a newcomer who’s set to become the town minister, but whose ghosts from the past hold him hostage. Mix in a good dose of Edgar Allan Poe creepiness and you have the perfect recipe for a deliciously gothic tale.
It’s 1846 and Gabriel Stone has left his home in Concord, Massachusetts, following his wife’s death. He’s been hired as the new minister for Pale Harbor, a small seaside town in Maine. But Gabriel barely has time to settle in his new home and church when he quickly learns about the gossip surrounding Sophronia Carver. Rumor has it that she murdered her husband and is a practicing witch.
When Gabriel meets the elusive widow, he’s hesitant to believe the whispers about her. In fact, he finds her enchanting. But still devastated by the loss of his wife, Gabriel is conflicted over his growing feelings for Sophronia. In addition, Gabriel struggles with his new position as minister, as it’s a completely foreign world for him and he feels ill-equipped to tend a flock.
Meanwhile, Sophronia has been exiled to Castle Carver as the town scapegoat. Her only companion is Helen, her maid and surrogate family. When sinister events begin taking place throughout the town, all suspicion points to Sophronia. She maintains her innocence and Gabriel believes her, even as he begins to fall in love with her. But is she truly innocent, or is he bewitched by her spell?
I loved this book. It combines several genres that I love—mystery, suspense, and romance—and with the added Poe references, I was in heaven. I had my suspicions as to what the true mystery was and found myself pleasantly surprised in the end. The story moves along at a quick clip, bolstered by the well-drawn characters and moody setting that almost becomes a character in itself.
I enjoyed Fox’s first novel, The Witch of Willow Hall, but Fox really knocks it out of the park with The Widow of Pale Harbor. The reveal of Sophronia’s husband’s mysterious death, the undercurrent of transcendentalist thought, the slow burn of Sophronia and Gabriel’s romance—it all kept me riveted. Highly recommended!
Rating: 5 stars