Skip to main content

The Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox: A Book Review

The Widow of Pale Harbor
Author: Hestor Fox
Genre:  Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Publisher: Graydon House
Release Date:  September 17, 2019
Pages: 352
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. 
Synopsis: 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.

    My Review: The author of The Witch of Willow Hall has recently penned another gothic love story. Gabriel arrives in Pale Harbor as their new minister. He immediately hears malicious rumors about the mysterious Sophronia Carter murdering her husband and practicing witchcraft. When he visits her for the first time, he discovers that she is not what the rumors say and quickly falls in love with her.

     Sophronia Carter is a courageous heroine. Because she is ostracized by the whole town, she normally stays in her castle. After she meets Gabriel, Sophronia begins to take a risk and begins to attend social functions to the dismay of the town’s residents. Therefore, Sophronia is an admirable and independent character because she does not let criticism define her life. Throughout the novel, Sophronia makes her own choices and slowly gains self-confidence. I also like Sophronia’s intelligence and her love of philosophy and literature. 

     On the other hand, Gabriel is a hard character for me to like. He is a minister, yet he rarely interacts with his parishioners. He barely attends any of their dinner invitations or mingles with them. He also does not seem like he cares about his job. He constantly neglects his duties for Sophronia. Therefore, he portrays a very unconvincing preacher. The characters seems to insinuate that he was made to live and breathe only for Sophronia. Thus, Gabriel is a character that disappoints me because he lacks character development. He simply serves as a role for Sophronia’s love interest.

    Overall, this novel is full of betrayal, redemption, and courage. As for the characters, Helen is the most fascinating. She is very enigmatic, and I love unraveling her secrets. The setting is the best aspect of the book. It features a gloomy castle which evokes an eerie atmosphere. Yet, I am very unsatisfied with how there was very little witchcraft in the The Widow of Pale Harbor. The synopsis promises that there would be some magical elements to it. However, the fantasy elements only appear in a few pages, you can easily miss them if you are not paying attention to the story. I am also disappointed with the underwhelming romance and the predictable mystery. Still, The Widow of Pale Harbor is a light and fast-paced read to spend on a rainy night. I recommend it for fans of Victoria Holt, Simone St. James, and Laura Purcell.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


Popular posts from this blog

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki: A Book Review

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post Author: Allison Pataki Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Ballantine Release Date: February 15, 2022 Pages: 381 Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: Mrs. Post, the President and First Lady are here to see you. . . . So begins another average evening for Marjorie Merriweather Post. Presidents have come and gone, but she has hosted them all. Growing up in the modest farmlands of Battle Creek, Michigan, Marjorie was inspired by a few simple rules: always think for yourself, never take success for granted, and work hard—even when deemed American royalty, even while covered in imperial diamonds. Marjorie had an insatiable drive to live and love and to give more than she got. From crawling through Moscow warehouses to rescue the Tsar’s treasures to outrunning the Nazis in London, from serving the homeless of the Great Depression to entertaining Roosevelts, Kennedys, and Hollywood’s biggest stars, Marjorie Merriweath

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn: A Book Review

The Rose Code Author: Kate Quinn Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Harper Collins Release Date: 2021 Pages: 635 Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: 1940, Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire.        Three very different women are recruited to the mysterious Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes.       Vivacious debutante Osla has the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses – but she burns to prove herself as more than a society girl, working to translate decoded enemy secrets. Self-made Mab masters the legendary codebreaking machines as she conceals old wounds and the poverty of her East-End London upbringing. And shy local girl Beth is the outsider who trains as one of the Park’s few female cryptanalysts.       1947, London.        Seven years after they first meet, on the eve of the royal wedding between Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, disaster threatens. Osla, Mab and Beth are estranged,

The Seven Sisters (The Seven Sisters #1) by Lucinda Riley: A Book Review

The Seven Sisters (The Seven Sisters #1) Author: Lucinda Riley Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance Publisher: Atria Release Date: 2015 Pages: 463 Source: My State Public Library Synopsis: Maia D’Apliese and her five sisters gather together at their childhood home, “Atlantis”—a fabulous, secluded castle situated on the shores of Lake Geneva—having been told that their beloved father, who adopted them all as babies, has died. Each of them is handed a tantalizing clue to her true heritage—a clue which takes Maia across the world to a crumbling mansion in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Once there, she begins to put together the pieces of her story and its beginnings. Eighty years earlier in Rio’s Belle Epoque of the 1920s, Izabela Bonifacio’s father has aspirations for his daughter to marry into the aristocracy. Meanwhile, architect Heitor da Silva Costa is devising plans for an enormous statue, to be called Christ the Redeemer, and will soon travel to Paris to find the right sculptor to