I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from Netgalley which I used for my review and a physical copy of the book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Welcome to the blog tour!
It might be 90+ degrees in Eastern Tennessee today but it's October 2nd and I'm determined to live my best fall life. What better way to start the best of all months than with a delightfully twisted gothic tale/mystery/romance like Hester Fox's The Widow of Pale Harbor? Check out the blurb, my review, and info about where to find Hester and her book below!
A town gripped by fear. A woman accused of witchcraft. Who can save Pale Harbor from itself?
Maine, 1846. Gabriel Stone is desperate to escape the ghosts that haunt him in Massachusetts after his wife’s death, so he moves to Maine, taking a position as a minister in the remote village of Pale Harbor.
But not all is as it seems in the sleepy town. Strange, unsettling things have been happening, and the townspeople claim that only one person can be responsible: Sophronia Carver, a reclusive widow who lives with a spinster maid in the eerie Castle Carver. Sophronia must be a witch, and she almost certainly killed her husband.
As the incidents escalate, one thing becomes clear: they are the work of a twisted person inspired by the wildly popular stories of Mr. Edgar Allan Poe. And Gabriel must find answers, or Pale Harbor will suffer a fate worthy of Poe’s darkest tales.
Hester Fox comes to writing from a background in the museum field as a collections maintenance technician. This job has taken her from historic houses to fine art museums, where she has the privilege of cleaning and caring for collections that range from paintings by old masters to ancient artifacts to early-American furniture. She is a keen painter and has a master’s degree in historical archaeology, as well as a background in medieval studies and art history. Hester lives outside Boston with her husband.
There’s no other way to put it: Hester Fox’s books are majorly creepy.
She excels at crafting an atmosphere-driven story: a gloomy setting and terrifying imagery, peppered with stops/starts/and misdirections. While reading the opening I got goosebumps because I was anticipating some upcoming terror, only to soon realize that I had been fooled. I love how Fox isn’t afraid to mess with reader’s expectations; that’s part of the unpredictability of the book and the potential scare factor, really.
As you might expect given the above, then, The Widow of Pale Harbor’s very dramatic and also pretty gory at times. It’s not a light and easy read even if the relationship between Sophronia and Gabriel—fraught as it sometimes is—offers a lovely respite from the terrors of everything else.
Those terrors? Abuse. Dead animals. Dead people.
Even other relationships in the book are scary: they’re often judgmental, suffocating, violent, or guilt-producing, all of which increase the tension in the book and lead to more questions. After all, how can Sophronia or Gabriel discover the murderer when each person in their village has her/his own motivations, fears, and secrets? The closest friend you have—or the man you’re lusting after—might be the one causing such terror in Pale Harbor.
The yikes factor’s pretty high with this one, and that might be just what you’re looking for in your October read. It’s also written by someone who obviously cares about a good scary story, who’s adept at pacing and pulling the reader from one fright to another until the book explodes like a jack in the box and the secrets come lunging out.
4 out of 5 stars.
You can get your copy of THE WIDOW OF PALE HARBOR here:
And you can follow Hester here:
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