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Monday, October 28, 2019

Shivery Sophomore Novel A Liked-It-Didn't-Love-It Halloween Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

A year after his wife died in childbirth, Gabriel Stone is still wracked with grief.  Desperate to make a new start away from the memories that haunt his every step in Massachusetts, he accepts a position as a minister in the small town of Pale Harbor, Maine.  Hiding his own secrets, Gabriel soon becomes acquainted with the village's biggest mystery—Sophronia Carver.  The young widow, who's rumored to be everything from a witch to a heartless murderer, hides away in creepy Castle Carver, with only a gruff spinster housekeeper for company.  Intrigued by the sinister stories surrounding her, Gabriel seeks out Sophronia, who surprises him with her kindness, beauty, and intelligence.

When strange things start happening in Pale Harbor, the townspeople know immediately who's at fault—Widow Carver.  Gabriel doesn't believe it for a second.  Someone else is scaring people with Edgar Allen Poe-ish tricks.  Gabriel must find out who before all of Pale Harbor comes for Sophronia with pitchforks and torches.  They don't know her like he does, or do they?  What is the widow hiding?  And who is really behind the macabre doings in town?  Gabriel won't stop digging until he finds the truth.

I loved Hester Fox's debut novel, The Witch of Willow Hall, so when I was offered an early copy of her sophomore book to review, I accepted eagerly.  While The Widow of Pale Harbor shares many elements with its predecessor—a shivery, atmospheric setting; strong, creepy Gothic vibes; and a cast of interesting, sympathetic characters—I didn't enjoy it nearly as much.  I'm not sure why, but Fox's second effort just didn't impress me like her first did.  I still liked The Widow of Pale Harbor, I just didn't love it.  


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (no F-bombs), violence, sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of The Widow of Pale Harbor from the generous folks at HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!


  1. This book interests me, mostly because of that creepy Gothic vibe. :)

  2. Sounds highly atmospheric. I just can't scare myself with these anymore, although I still admire those who write things that are scaring a whole lot of people. I think you're B- is probably the equivalent of my 3 1/2. I use that for books that are maybe a little above average, but not quite first tier.

  3. I love the Gothic vibe but too bad this one disappointed you. I definitely want to try her first book though.

  4. I always begin a sophomore novel with some trepidation if I've really enjoyed the debut. I think I put extra pressure and expectations on it.


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