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The Widow Of Pale Harbor

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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. Gideon 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.

344 pages, Paperback

First published September 17, 2019

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About the author

Hester Fox

7 books1,612 followers
Hester comes to writing from a background in museum work and historical archaeology. She loves the Gothic, the lurid, the dark...so long as the ending is a happy one. She has never seen a ghost, though she remains hopeful.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 624 reviews
Profile Image for Yun.
521 reviews21.7k followers
October 10, 2021
I scare pretty easily, so I don't read a lot of spooky books. Growing up, I couldn't enjoy Goosebumps because those were too scary for me. One time I made the mistake of reading a random page and that was enough to keep me from falling asleep that night.

But I've been an adult for many years now (in age, if not in feeling), and I thought it's time I give spooky books another try. After all, they seem so fun. Unfortunately, The Widow of Pale Harbor was a poor choice, mostly because this book isn't scary or fun at all, but a big load of boring.

The first half of this book is mostly insta-love between Mrs. Carver and Gabriel Stone, the two main characters. What do they see in each other? Well, your guess is as good as mine. Whenever they meet, they're struck by how gorgeous the other person is, stare intensely at each other, blush a lot, and get tongue-tied. Then, over the smallest perceived insult, they'll feel terribly hurt and rebuff the other, only to meet again the next day and go through it all again. This happened over and over, for the entire first half of the book. It was so cringey and dull, like some sort of bad YA romance.

Then, past the halfway point, the pace picks up and things finally start to happen. But it quickly becomes evident to me what's going on, who's responsible, and even the reasons why. Except the characters in here are all very clueless and incompetent. They just bungle from place to place, making big messes while putting themselves and others in danger. It was all very tiring and frustrating.

In the end, this book just wasn't what I was expecting. I wanted something spooky and exciting. But what I got instead was a bad domestic thriller with grossly incompetent characters who spent the majority of time making googly eyes at each other. Sigh. My quest for a gently spooky book continues.
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,607 reviews10.7k followers
February 26, 2023
A town gripped by fear. A woman accused of witchcraft.
Who can save Pale Harbor from itself?

Welcome to Pale Harbor, Maine, 1846. Sophronia Carver, a young widow, spends her days haunting the halls of her mansion by the sea.

Castle Carver goes unvisited by the locals, as they believe Sophronia to be a witch. They also suspect she killed her late husband, magazine magnate, Nathaniel Carver.

Shunned and mistreated, Sophronia is happy to shut herself off from the rest of society. Having inherited her husband's magazine upon his death, she mostly occupies herself reading submissions, drinking tea and taking short walks on the rugged seaside cliffs.

Sophronia's loyal domestic staff are her only companions; her lady's maid, a serving girl and a groundskeeper.

Her devoted maid, Helen, is more than just a maid. Helen is a trusted friend, who takes her task of caring for Sophronia quite seriously.

When a new transcendentalist minister, Gabriel Stone, a widower himself, arrives in the sleepy town, he takes an interest in the secluded woman.

After visiting, he finds Sophronia to be quite charming and quickly becomes smitten with her.

Soon dark events push the two even further together and that is when things really begin to take off. It seems someone is out to get Sophronia, leaving cryptic messages and dead things for her to find.

The clues all relate to different poems and stories by Edgar Allen Poe. When these macabre leavings turn to murder and Sophronia is the main suspect, she and Gabriel must team up to investigate the crimes.

With equal parts Mystery and Romance, this Historical Fiction novel is steeped in the gothic atmosphere I love.

Set on the rocky coast of Maine, this is a perfect book to pick up during the most wonderful season of the year, AUTUMN.

I really enjoyed Sophronia as a character. She was not dealt an easy hand, but took all that was thrown at her with a quiet grace that truly set her apart from those around her.

She was sweet, caring and although misunderstood by the townsfolk, never became jaded or vengeful.

Gabriel, as well, was great. Although a bit mysterious, and perhaps not exactly what he was purporting to be, he was strong and caring as well.

I loved watching him and Sophronia learn to confide in and trust one another. They both really needed a friend and as a duo, they paired quite nicely.

As the pace is picking up, we also have an old friend of Gabriel's arrive for a visit, Tom. He was fantastic. He brought a flirty good humor to the story that was much needed as the action was getting dark.

Gabriel and Tom had such a strong friendship, it was great to see that on page between two grown men. Very well done indeed.

I also appreciated the complex relationship between Sophronia and Helen. In truth, it was not a healthy relationship. Dedicated, to be sure, but also severely codependent.

Helen was great to read. She is surrounded in mystery and quite creepy. She definitely added a lot to the story.

Overall, I adored this book. While it did start out a little slow, once it picked up the pace, it was incredible. I always appreciate a slow burn and this one would certainly fall into that category.

I would have enjoyed a bit more atmosphere, particularly surrounding Castle Carver itself, but that is definitely a personal taste issue and in no way a reflection on the actual story.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Graydon House Books, for providing me with an early copy to read and review. This was one of my most anticipated books of the year and it did not disappoint.

In my opinion, Hester Fox is an absolute blessing and this book helped cement her status as an auto-buy author for me. I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next!!!
Profile Image for Mary Beth .
383 reviews1,768 followers
December 4, 2019
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 Allen Poe. And Gabriel must find answers or Pale Harbor will suffer a fate worthy of Poe's darkest tales.

I really enjoyed this book. I loved The Witch Of Willow Hall and loved this one more. I love witchy gothic books and that is why I loved it so much. I also loved the setting of the book. It takes place in Pale Harbor and the author describes it so well that I felt like I was there. I loved the gothic atmosphere as well. The descriptions of the eerie castle were well done also.

The book also consists of Poe's darkest tales which gave it the creep factor. This one has all the ingredients for the perfect gothic novel. It also is the perfect Halloween book. There also is a romance that fitted very well in the story.

In the beginning of the story it is unsettling because strange things are happening, but then it turns into a historical fiction gothic mystery.

The characters were very well developed. Sophronia is a widow with a dark secret. Gabriel is the new minister in town and feels guilty. I felt so sorry for Sophronia, she was shunned in this town and was so lonely. There also were lots of twists and turns which kept you glued to the pages.
I recommend this book to those that love witchy gothic mysteries.

This was a Traveling Sister/Friend read and this was a fun read for all of us.

I want to thank Edelweiss, Graydon House/Harper Collins for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Debra .
2,415 reviews35.2k followers
October 24, 2019
Maine 1846

Accusations of witchcraft, suspicious villagers, someone inspired by Poe's writings is leaving threatening and strange things around town, and everyone believes that only one woman could be responsible - Sophronia Carver, a rich widower who lives in Carver Castle. The villagers believe the reclusive widow killed her husband and lives a solitary life with her maid.

Gabriel Stone has arrived in town after taking on the position as the town's new Minister. He has left Massachusetts after his wife's death and wants a fresh start. Almost immediately, he is drawn into the strange happenings around the town and hears the gossip about Sophronia Carver. Having met her, he believes surely, they are wrong. Or has he fallen under her spell? Could there be someone else targeting Sophronia? Is she a witch? Is someone close to her plotting her harm?

This was a Gothic romance/mystery which worked very well blended together. I loved the references to Poe and the clues left behind inspired by his work. This book is the perfect read for October and is atmospheric, chilling, and wonderfully written. I had a strong suspicion about whodunit almost from the beginning, it didn't affect my enjoyment of this book in any way. I found the pacing to be spot on. Nothing felt rushed or drawn out. The characters were enjoyable and interesting.

A great read for a chilly fall day.

*Traveling Sisters/Traveling Friends Buddy Read
Profile Image for Berit Talks Books.
2,024 reviews15.7k followers
October 11, 2019
Hauntingly beautiful and exquisitely told. Hester Fox's Second novel is as stunning and atmospheric as her first. The perfect story to kick off your fall reading, an absorbing tale full of mystery and gloom with a Gothic vibe. Miss Fox's elegant and descriptive writing completely transported me too 1840s Pale Harbor, Maine. A small town brimming with Mystery and secrets. When Gabriel arrives in town determined to redeem himself, he finds himself caught up in The town's gossip, rumors, and accusations. Sophronia has been a reclusive since the death of her husband, a death that the town seems to blame her for. When Gabriel meets Sophronia he is immediately taken with her and when strange things start happening and Sophronia is blamed he is determined to prove the town wrong.

 I was completely swept away by this mesmerizing story. Sophronia was such a remarkable character, A beautiful soul with a quiet grace that completely drew me in. Gabriel was wounded and flawed as well as strong and supportive. All the creepy happenings around town were somehow tied to the writings of Edgar Allan Poe. I was not previously tremendously familiar with Poe's works, but WOW he was so twisted! I thought this was done so well and added an additional haunting layer to the story. An evocative story, equal parts mystery and romance with a satisfying ending.

This book in three emojis: 🌫 🥀 🌕
Profile Image for Debra .
2,415 reviews35.2k followers
November 2, 2019
Maine 1846

Accusations of witchcraft, suspicious villagers, someone inspired by Poe's writings is leaving threatening and strange things around town, and everyone believes that only one woman could be responsible - Sophronia Carver, a rich widower who lives in Carver Castle. The villagers believe the reclusive widow killed her husband and lives a solitary life with her maid.

Gabriel Stone has arrived in town after taking on the position as the town's new Minister. He has left Massachusetts after his wife's death and wants a fresh start. Almost immediately, he is drawn into the strange happenings around the town and hears the gossip about Sophronia Carver. Having met her, he believes surely, they are wrong. Or has he fallen under her spell? Could there be someone else targeting Sophronia? Is she a witch? Is someone close to her plotting her harm?

This was a Gothic romance/mystery which worked very well blended together. I loved the references to Poe and the clues left behind inspired by his work. This book is the perfect read for October and is atmospheric, chilling, and wonderfully written. I had a strong suspicion about whodunit almost from the beginning, it didn't affect my enjoyment of this book in any way. I found the pacing to be spot on. Nothing felt rushed or drawn out. The characters were enjoyable and interesting.

A great read for a chilly fall day.

*Traveling Sisters/Traveling Friends Buddy Read
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,182 reviews30.5k followers
September 14, 2019
Thanks to Harlequin Graydon House for the complimentary copy.

In Maine in the 1800s, Gabriel Stone is haunted after his wife dies, so he moves to Pale Harbor, an isolated village, as the new minister.

Pale Harbor is as haunting and atmospheric as that cover. There’s a sense of foreboding and darkness from the start. Sophronia Carver must be to blame for all the bad things happening town. In fact, she must be a witch.

It becomes apparent that everything happening relates back to the stories of Edgar Allen Poe. I LOVED this aspect! In middle school, I was taught several of the works of Poe by an enthusiastic English teacher who loved is creepy stories. I couldn’t help but love them too. This book connected to the stories in the most unique of ways.

Overall, The Widow of Pale Harbor is the perfect atmospheric book to kick off fall reading. Hester Fox has delivered another solid Gothic mystery.

Many of my reviews can also be found on instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader
February 23, 2023

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Gothic novels are my catnip. I think they're probably the genre of book I probably enjoy most because of the creepiness and the meticulous plotting that goes in to creating not just the mystery element but also the atmosphere. But, like all books, the Gothic genre has its hits and its misses, and this was more miss than hit.

THE WIDOW OF PALE HARBOR starts out promisingly enough in the way that it introduces our two main characters. Sophronia is haunted by the (figurative) ghost of her dead abusive husband, and struggles with her agoraphobia in her isolated mansion on the hill. Everyone thinks that she's a witch who probably murdered her husband, and the fact that her house servant practices herblore certainly doesn't help matters. Lately, she's been the victim of cruel pranks involving letters, ravens (dead and alive), and effigies, intent on making her squirm.

Gabriel is a man who has come to the small village of Pale Harbor to be a minister of Transcendentalism. He is doing this, despite a very painful lack of any religious training of any kind in homage to his late wife, who was fascinated by the religious movement and wanted him to practice the beautiful words that he used to transcribe for mere pennies. By preaching, he hopes that he will be able to honor her in death as he was unable to in life-- until he meets Sophronia.

The biggest detriment to this book is the insta-love between the hero and heroine. In the beginning, I was very much on board with the claustrophobic small town vibe, spiritual and religious and taking god-fearing to extremes that had the faintest whiff of witch-hunting fervor from the century prior. I could have even bought the doomed romance, had it been spaced out a bit, but with both parties being widowed, and haunted by their spouse's passings (albeit for different reasons), it felt a bit weird that they would be so eager to leap into a new relationship, given what we knew of their characters.

As for the mystery element, that was what I liked best about this book, although it wasn't quite the dark and disturbing read I'd wished for. The Edgar Allen Poe-inspired pranks and murders that had me picking up this book in the first place definitely don't quite capture that breathless horror that had Poe terrorizing the Victorians back in the day. I didn't actually guess who the culprit was until the end, so that was nice, but the ending was anticlimactic and falls prey to the usual "bad guy" tropes.

THE WIDOW OF PALE HARBOR is not a bad book, but it isn't a standout in the genre, either. It's bland, it's blah, but that's okay. Pick this up if you want a quick, breezy read that will pass an afternoon without too much brain drain, just as long as you don't mind a syrupy, saccharine serving of romance paired alongside your milquetoast murder mystery.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

2.5 to 3 stars
October 28, 2019
Last year around this time I read The Witch of Willow Hall with a few of my Traveling Sisters it was a hit for us and we thought it was a great one for this time of year. I read The Widow of Pale Harbor with a couple of my TS and it was also a hit for us. I did enjoy The Widow of Pale Harbor a bit more. I highly recommend both.

Things did start off a little rocky for me here with the strange unsettling things going on in this town and I was reading with one eye closed hiding behind my pillow. Soon things started to come together and I start to see how that is cleverly weaved into the story.

The Widow of Pale Harbor has all the elements to make this a creepy good gothic atmospheric read. It has an entertaining and engaging mystery that had us all following the clues with a little help from Debra who set us on the right track with those clues. The romance in this one was perfectly done and I was enjoying the dynamics with that. I was swept away to this historic Maine 1846 setting and the castle and town came alive for me with that creepy, foreboding feeling.

Near the end, the drama and action pick up and I was a little worried my drama patience was going to go over the edge, however, the story kept me on the edge of the cliff and brought me safely to a satisfying ending.

Traveling sister friend read. You can find our discussion here. Spoilers are used. Did you love this one too or? Join in and let us know your thoughts.


I received a copy from the publisher.
Profile Image for Lindsay L.
679 reviews1,322 followers
October 29, 2019
3.5 stars.

Eerie. Haunting. Mysterious. Atmospheric.

1846: Gabriel Stone arrives in the small town of Pale Harbor to take the position of minister in the neglected local church. Villagers are hesitant to trust Gabriel. He must face their uncertainty with confidence in the hopes to overcome gossipy local legends in the small town full of deeply rooted suspicions and secrets.

From the start I felt a deep sense of foreboding and intrigue. The rich atmosphere and haunting characters drew me in and kept me curious to the very end. The pace did slow down after the halfway mark where I felt some repetition and drawn out scenes, however, my curiosity didn’t waver. There is a strong sense of romance throughout the book which, at times, was a bit more than my liking, but it didn’t take away from the atmospheric suspense. An easy and entertaining gothic mystery!

A Traveling Friends read that we all enjoyed! Thank you to HarperCollins for sending me a physical copy to read and review!
Profile Image for DJ Sakata.
3,062 reviews1,754 followers
October 11, 2019
Favorite Quotes:

Tonight, she and Helen would eat a small supper in silence— they had few words left to say that weren’t old and stale, used up over the years…

If he was going to be an even half-convincing minister, he was going to have to curb his vulgar habit of cursing.

But then the conversation took an even more horrifying turn. “Are you married, Gabriel?”

Suspicion had followed her about like a cloud threatening rain…

My Review:

This clever wordsmith is exceptionally skilled at creating and maintaining an eerie and smoky atmosphere that was taut with tension and unease yet pregnant with an odd and incongruent mixture of hopeful anticipation and nightmarish dread. Strange incidents, ghastly crimes, and gruesome discoveries were occurring at an advancing rate, it quickly became quite clear that something vile and sinister was settling over the narrow and backward little hamlet of Pale Harbor.

The elements of mystery and suspense were well-crafted and exceptionally well-paced as the creepiness factor zigged and zagged unexpectedly with sudden leaps and abrupt interruptions. I was riveted to my Kindle. And amid all these alarming and bizarre occurrences, a romance blossomed between the new minister who frequently swore and delivered abysmal sermons – although not at the same time - and the town outcast and suspected witch/murderess. It was divine. In addition to an engaging read and a day's worth of entertainment, I also gleaned new knowledge as I was compelled to consult Mr. Google about transcendentalism and Unitarianism, which apparently resulted in falling through a wormhole and losing track of a significant chunk of time, funny how that happens.
Profile Image for Hester Fox.
Author 7 books1,613 followers
May 1, 2019
My second book will be available September 17, 2019 (October for the UK), and I'm so excited for you to meet Sophronia and Gabriel! Everything they say about the second book being the hardest to write is true, so while it was sometimes a struggle, I'm so pleased with how it came out and really hope that you enjoy it. A great big Thank You to everyone who read The Witch Of Willow Hall and have come back for The Widow Of Pale Harbor- your support means everything <3

For content warnings, please visit my website. If you encounter a sensitive subject in the book that you think should be included on this list, please let me know and I will add it.
Profile Image for Heidi.
1,235 reviews145 followers
January 20, 2022
There was a lot about this gothic tinged story set in 19th century Maine that I liked enough to read but the “wanna be editor” who lives in my head was annoyed at some of the sloppy story building.

We meet several folks individually — all with their secrets. One is running to Pale Harbor to seek atonement by taking on the role of minister in a town whose heyday is decades past. The author gives us some Universalist background while continuing to show/tell us just what a bad minister our hero is turning out to be.

Another is the book’s namesake— the lovely and young widow whose reputation runs from generous friend to evil witch, depending who you ask in town. And we meet her Uber-loyal companion who will go to any lengths to protect her mistress’s peace. Can anyone say— Mrs Danvers?

Lots of minor characters populate Pale Harbor— the townsfolk, the estate employees and ghosts from the past.

Gothic twists and turns remain front and center. Fox nails the gothic but only superficially— what this book lacked in depth, it has in ridiculous red herrings… some so off base that no one, including our beautiful, reserved, smart enough to serve as an editor but hapless widow, can see.

If it was less fun to see how all the crazy threads were tied up, I might have DNFd. I smelled a happy ending (which was certainly one of the goals for me) so I pushed ahead.

Maybe it’s just me but I got the feeling that Fox lost control of all those great early story ideas by the end— just too many super unbelievable scenes and character decisions.

I appreciate the author’s love for Edgar Allen Poe and Brontë and for that alone, it might be worth reading. This may not have been the right book for me but I would read another book by Ms Fox as her writing was wonderful!!
Profile Image for Bex (Beckie Bookworm).
2,015 reviews1,311 followers
May 31, 2020

I was expecting a mysterious gothic masterpiece and what I actually got was a historical romance with some mystery thrown in.
Nothing wrong with that at all but I felt the blurb here was a tad misleading.
So Sophronia Carver is a young widow who lives in Carver castle in the town of Pale harbor.
The entire town thinks her a murderer and a witch.
Gabriel is the new minister practising transcendentalism he has moved for a fresh start after the death of his wife in childbirth.
When these two meet they forge a strong connection further amplified by Gabriel's protectiveness towards the young widow.
This is also has a budding romance a slow burn one, the whole story is quite clean in nature with one intimate scene and a couple of kisses.
So strange things are afoot in Pale Harbor and the whole town is pointing the finger in Sophy's direction, after all, she is the local witch according to the town gossips.
But it's not long before events escalate and it becomes clear that Sophy is the main target of this vendetta of hatred.
With a dwindling suspect pool, Sophy even suspects her long-time devoted maid Helen.
Helen despite her spells and charms claims only to have her mistresses best interests at heart and the more she tries to drive a wedge between Sophy and Gabriel the more she unintentionally pushes them together.
So I did find this to be a tad slow and plodding and it never really got off the ground for me hence my final rating.
So I had a few issues with this I think one of the main ones was I never really took to Sophy herself I found her to be quite self-absorbed and I disliked the way she treated Helen even referring to her as pathetic in conversation with Gabriel.
Helen was a bloody nightmare at times but Sophy has allowed and enabled this behaviour and the woman was only trying to look after Sophy in the only way she knew how.
I also thought Gabriel's pedestal that he had put his dead wife on needed a sharp kick to the foundations.
When I learned her past actions towards her husband it just made Gabriel look like a complete and utter doormat, not understanding and decent like I think the author intended just please walk all over me.
Also, people here made the dumbest choices they deserved to be murdered in my opinion Sophy was a complete moron in that regard she did everything you are not supposed to and in real life, she definitely would have been a gonna.
The prose itself here was lovely I'll say that but the rest for me fell flat and the ultimate mystery left me completely cold.
The writing itself here was fine but as I said earlier this was a bit of a miss for me which is a shame as I wanted so much to like this more than I did.
If you like the cleaner historical gothic romances this one might be a fit for you.
I voluntary reviewed a copy of The Widow of Pale Harbor.


Reviewed By Beckie Bookworm
Profile Image for Erin.
3,094 reviews484 followers
December 1, 2019
Riveting read with a satisfying gothic atmosphere as a small town is gripped by horrific incidents that they believe are caused by a young widow who may be practicing witchcraft. Can the young minister, Gabriel Stone encourage the people of Pale Harbor, Maine to see reason? Or has Gabriel himself fallen under Sophronia Carver's spell?

Although I have to admit that I much preferred the author's debut novel, The Witch of Willow Hall, I think what the author does well is show to the reading audience how quickly us vs them can happen.

Goodreads review published 23/11/19
Profile Image for Kathleen.
1,090 reviews95 followers
August 3, 2019
I was sold a fake bill of goods and I think this book suffers from a personality disorder. I think this book really, really wants to be a dark, creepy tale of witchcraft and strangeness (which is how the book blurb sold it to me), but somehow a silly romance - that honestly felt a bit YA - got thrown into the mix and completely ruined any suspense the story was trying to build. Oh, and let's throw in a bit of transcendentalism into the mix. Don't get me wrong - there is nothing wrong with two characters falling in love during a suspenseful read, but in this read, it completely overpowered the story and each time the suspense was building I was pulled right out of it with the almost juvenile thoughts of this budding romance between two widowed adults. While I think the story will appeal to many people, I don't think it will hit the right crowd being sold as a dark, creepy read. It's not. I would categorize it as a suspenseful romance maybe? If I were interested in that genre I would say this might be almost a 4 star read because it is well written and pretty well thought out. Honestly, I didn't dislike the book, it just wasn't what it promised. When I read the author's note I was engrossed in the details of the dark history of the area/time and Poe and wondered why any of those details weren't included in the book?? Many thanks to Edelwiess for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this book; all thoughts are my own.
Profile Image for Whispering Stories.
2,755 reviews2,580 followers
October 18, 2019
Book Reviewed on www.whisperingstories.com

Maine, 1846, Sophronia Carver is the mysterious widow living on the cliff tops at her home Castle Carver with her only trusted companion, Maid Helen. Her husband, magazine owner, Nathaniel died a few years ago and the locals believe that Sophronia killed him and that she is a witch.

Sophronia doesn’t venture into the village of Pale Harbour anymore due to her anxiety. When Nathaniel died she became the owner of the magazine company and now spends her days reading submissions for the magazine and going for walks on her property.

Gabriel Stone has arrived in Pale Harbour under the pretence that he is the new transcendentalist minister. The real one died on route and Gabriel saw his opportunity to do some good and to fulfil his late wife’s wishes.

He is told all about the goings-on in Pale Harbour, the daily troubles and that ‘witch’ Sophronia must be behind them. He is advised to stay away from her, but Gabriel wants to see for himself what this elusive woman is like, he is surprised when she is nothing like what the people say and an attraction forms between the pair.

With dark events happening in the village the locals all turn on Sophronia but can Gabriel and Sophronia work together to prove that she is not a ‘witch’ or behind the goings-on and find out who really is causing trouble in Pale Harbour?

The Widow of Pale Harbour is a Gothic tale following the works of Edgar Allen Poe. The story is a cross between a love story and a darkly mysterious, historical tale. I’m not that familiar with Edgar Allen Poe’s stories, though I do know some of his poems.

Sophronia is a lovely young woman, misunderstood and carrying a lot of grief on her shoulders. She cuts herself off from the world and focuses all her energy on going through the submissions for the magazine, trying to keep it in business.

Gabriel is a man who deeply misses his deceased wife and blames himself for her death during childbirth. He wants to do some good in the world and although he doesn’t actually believe in everything about transcendentalism or that there are no bad in people only good ones, he’s willing to follow and preach the religion as that is what his wife would have wanted.

The two characters paired together perfectly and I loved the way they were with one another, both had been through hardship and grief at a young age, so they both could understand one another completely.

The book was very atmospheric and you could feel the cold, harsh weather of Pale Harbour which sent shivers down my spine whilst reading. I loved the dark, Gothic feel to the book and the mystery surrounding the happenings in the village. The book has been beautifully written and I flew threw it, not wanting to put it down.

Hester Fox is an amazing writer and I have enjoyed both of her books, I do hope that there will be many more to come. With the early dark nights looming ever closer, this book is the perfect read for a winter’s night.
Profile Image for Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings).
1,564 reviews173 followers
August 25, 2020
I’ve been wanting to read “The Widow of Pale Harbour” by Hester Fox for a while now after reading some good reviews. The premise sounded perfect for my taste in gothic historical fiction and the cover just compounded the sense of dark trepidation the mysterious story oozes.
“Maine, 1846. Desperate to escape the ghosts of his past, Gabriel Stone takes a position as a minister in the remote town of Pale Harbour, but not all is as it seems in the sleepy town. As soon as Gabriel arrives, he can’t escape the rumours about the mysterious Sophronia Carver, a young widow who lives in the eerie Castle Carver - whispers that she killed her husband, mutterings that she might even be a witch. But as strange, unsettling events escalate into murder, Gabriel finds himself falling under Sophy’s spell. As clues start to point to Sophy as the next victim, Gabriel realises he must find answers before anyone else turns up dead.”
I really enjoyed the traditional gothic feel to the story, a touch of superstition, witchcraft, suspicion and a clean romance all intertwined with the vivid imagination of Edgar Allan Poe’s evocative and eerie stories. I love tales that involve possible witches, haunting dark secrets and which keep you entertained and addicted from start to finish, so this was a perfect match for me. I do have to admit to having to research the word ‘transcendentalism’ due to my naivety and was quite surprised to learn its meaning, having never heard of it before. An ingenious idea to incorporate into a plot line.
The characters were well portrayed and perfect for the era the story was set in. Sophronia played an excellent widow with a dark and unsettling secret and along with her protective house servant and closest friend Helen, they had a deep rooted friendship I could well imagine.
The author comes from a background history of museum work and historical archaeology, so she is perfectly suited for writing ghostly gothic style stories. She has also written a previous novel, “The Witch at Willow Hall”, which I do hope to read soon.
A captivating story which would be the ultimate entertainment on halloween night, I enjoyed “The Widow of Pale Harbour” and hope, if gothic mysteries are your thing, that you do too!

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Louise Wilson.
2,898 reviews1,641 followers
October 13, 2019
Sophronia Carver never felt welcome y the people of Pale Harbour. Her husband was cruel and when he died, the local people thought that she had murdered him. They even think that she might be a witch. Then strange things start to happen and the locals believe Sophronia is behind it all. Sophronia leads a solitary life. She o ly has her maid, Helen for company. Then she meets Gabriel. Other are suspicious of each other but then then start to ond.

Set in Maine in 1846. It took me a little while to get into this book. The pace is slow at first. With many twists, it's shockingly dark and intriguing. I was second guessing everything. A gothic story with some romance thrown in. I did think this was more like a YA novel.

I would like to thank NetGalley, HQ and the author Hester Fox for my ARC in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Norma.
551 reviews12.7k followers
December 28, 2019
Hauntingly beautiful, chilling, and atmospheric!

Loved the gothic vibe!!

Thank you so much to Eden at HarperCollins for kindly sending me a copy of this book.
Profile Image for Fareya.
273 reviews865 followers
October 2, 2020
Hester Fox is one of my auto buy authors and her books are just perfect to pick up on a chilly Fall evening.

While I wait to get my hands on her latest, here are my top five reasons to add The Widow of Pale Harbor to your TBR, if you're on a lookout for something atmospheric and eerie.
1. Perfect gothic setting - Year 1846, a mysterious small town in Maine rooted in secrets and gripped by fear. 
2. An ancient castle by the sea, owned by a rich and reclusive widow deemed witch. Rumor is, she killed her husband and is not kind to visitors.
3. A new to town, church Minister with a troubled past 
4. Witty references and parallels to some of Edgar Allen Poe's darkest and creepiest tales.
5.Murder, mayhem, mystery and amidst it all some romance. 

**A free paperback ARC was provided by Graydon House. All opinions are my own**
Profile Image for Heather.
217 reviews63 followers
June 16, 2020
I curled up on the couch, watching it blow and rain outside of my window, with a pot of tea and read this historical romance with gothic undertones this afternoon. It was the perfect setting to enjoy this lush and sinister work.

I especially appreciated the Poe references and shocking murder scenes richly sprinkled throughout this book. The narrow mindedness of the classic quaint Victorian village and the marginalization of women in this book were intriguing. What dark deeds could be unleashed without real repercussions if an entire Village has already determined the guilty party?
Profile Image for Dianne.
6,773 reviews574 followers
August 12, 2019
Even the title sounds dark and a little ominous. THE WIDOW OF PALE HARBOR by Hester Fox is a well-crafted historical tale with a touch of the paranormal, characters haunted by the ghosts of their pasts and small town gossip that have doomed one young widow to be a pariah.

When Gabriel Stone came to town, under a cloak of deceit, he discovers Sophronia Carver to be as bewitching as the tales the townsfolk tell about her as they blame her for everything bad that has happened.

What dark and menacing evil lurks in the town of Pale Harbor? Mysterious, with a heavy feel to the atmosphere, Hester Fox has created a truly remarkable tale that unfolds at its own pace, no rushing to each reveal or twist. sit back, relax and enjoy what unfolds..

I received a complimentary ARC edition from Graydon House! This is my honest and voluntary review.

Publisher: Graydon House; Original edition (September 17, 2019)
Publication Date: September 17, 2019
Genre: Historical Mystery | Romance
Print Length: 352 pages
Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
For Reviews, Giveaways, Fabulous Book News, follow: http://tometender.blogspot.com
Profile Image for Cortney -  The Bookworm Myrtle Beach.
861 reviews141 followers
January 14, 2021
For how much I loved The Witch of Willow Hall, this was a pretty bland and disappointing follow-up. It was sooooo repetitive. Yes, we know Gabriel misses Anna, yes, he didn't think of the consequences of taking this job, yes he is here for his penance. Enough already.

This book was basically a bad case of insta-love with a little mystery and some Edgar Allan Poe references thrown in. Definitely not the 5 star read this author's first book was.

I skimmed a lot towards the end because I just wanted it to be over. 2 very bored and unenthusiastic stars
January 13, 2021
New year reading actually began with this ghost story but since life, as such was a menace, took a break and resumed it later.

There’s reason why after reading The Witch Of Willow Hall, Hester Fox moved into the auto-buy authors list for me. I simply loved that book for its all perfect story-telling. Honestly, I was worried about The Widow Of Pale Harbor, thinking that my high expectation would spell disaster but THANK YOU Hester Fox for producing another sure-fire winner which combines equal parts mystery, intrigue, gothic and romance keeping the fan-girl in me happy.

Gabriel Stone is on a journey to save himself. Believing himself to be the reason for his wife’s death and guilt-ridden for not being the man she had hoped him to be, Gabriel only wishes to start anew in Pale Harbor. What he never expected is the claustrophobic and small-town mindset of all the people and how their superstitious beliefs have made a woman’s life living hell. Sophronia Carver is no witch but the the town believes her so and she’s doomed to reside in her castle without stepping a foot across its threshold.

There’s mischief underfoot in the small town as someone is hell-bent on using the dark stories of Edgar Allen Poe and instilling terror and frightening one and all as Sophronia becomes the perpetrator’s target.

The eerie atmospheric feel to the story was simply outstanding and the romance between Gabe and Sophy captivating. Tom as Gabe’s friend added the lightness to the dark and brooding story. The friendship between Gabe and Tom really lifts the spirits, there’s a sweet and loving touch to their relationship. It was however Helen’s character that I loved immensely. The use of spells and the severity in her approach to everything conveyed the frightening and sinister atmosphere to Castle Carver.

If you are a fan of gothic mysteries with lovely romance, then go ahead and just grab this book with both hands. You’re surely not going to be disappointed.

This review is published in my blog https://rainnbooks.com/, Goodreads, Amazon India and Twitter.
Profile Image for Shelley.
221 reviews59 followers
February 7, 2022
Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read The Widow of Pale Harbor.

Gabriel Stone is a man trying to escape his troubled past and in doing so, he moves to Pale Harbor, Maine. What he doesn't know is that Pale Harbor has secrets of its own; one being Sophronia Carver. After her husband dies under somewhat mysterious circumstances, Sophronia is accused of murder and witchcraft by the townspeople of Pale Harbor and ultimately becomes a recluse. Her only friends are her maid, Helen, the Carver Castle groundskeeper, and his sister. However strange things are happening in Pale Harbor: murders that bear an eerie resemblance to the stories of Edgar Allan Poe. Gabriel finds himself drawn to Sophronia at first because of her intrigue, but as time goes on deeper feelings develop between the two mysterious strangers. Who is committing the horrendous murders in Pale Harbor and what ties Sophronia to them?

This book will keep you guessing until the very end. It is beautifully gothic, dark, and atmospheric. Think Jane Eyre written in present day language. I was captivated by this story from the very beginning and I hope to read more from this author in the future!
Profile Image for Mlpmom (Book Reviewer).
3,008 reviews377 followers
September 16, 2019
Hester Fox wowed me last year with her debut so it was easy to pick up her next book The Widow of Pale Harbor. And while I did love her sophomore book with all it's mystery and intrigue it didn't quite have the paranormal aspect that I was hoping it would. Having said that though, it was still such a fun and atmospheric read and I couldn't help but eagerly turn the pages to know more about Sophy and the town and all that was transpiring.

With references to Poe and darkness and death abound, I truly did enjoy this read and think that fans of Fox's debut, will feel the same and have just as much love for this one as they did the other.

*ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Profile Image for Mara.
1,635 reviews3,883 followers
July 11, 2019
This is another excellent romantic, Gothic suspense novel from Hester Fox, who made her debut in 2018 with THE WITCH OF WILLOW HALL. Fans of that novel will not be disappointed in this sophomore offering, as PALE HARBOR continues to show off the author's skills in setting what I would call a "spooky lite" mood and creating an evocative atmosphere in a rural community in 19th century Maine. I personally preferred the romantic elements and character dynamics slightly in WILLOW HALL, but that is mostly based on trope alignment and not so much on the book's quality, and the serial killer element of this one's plot works very nicely. And as a nice cherry on top, I personally loved the historical elements around the transcendentalism movement. All in all, really enjoyable and one I would recommend for folks looking for an atmospheric read this fall.
Profile Image for Lana.
322 reviews21 followers
July 1, 2019
I loved this one! Just like in the Witch of Willow Hall, this book has just the right amount of creepy mystery to keep me guessing and turning pages. Set in 1840’s Maine, I loved the dark feel of the story, and yet for a historical fiction the book reads so quickly and effortlessly, I could hardly put it down.
I can not wait to read Fox’s next book!
Thank you to NetGalley and Grayden House for this advanced copy.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 624 reviews

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