The Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox – Gothic Suspense Set In Maine

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Are you looking for a gothic suspense novel set in Maine?  Don’t skip this book review of The Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox.

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The Widow of Pale Harbor Book Information

We would personally like to thank Graydon House Books for sending us a free copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Title: The Widow of Pale Harbor
Author: Hester Fox
Genre: Gothic Fiction | Book Set In Maine | Historical Fiction | Suspense
Imprint: Graydon House Books
ISBN: 9781525834264
Pages: 352

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The Widow Of Pale Harbor Summary

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.

Graydon House

TUL Review Of The Widow Of Pale Harbor

Hester Fox, the author of The Witch of Willow Hall, is back at it with another ghostly story filled with witchcraft, romance, and murder.   

The Widow of Pale Harbor is one of Fox’s latest books and new book releases of 2019.

What love story wouldn’t be complete without a murder mystery to complicate relationships even more? 

Imagine injured crows, dead animals popping up at doorsteps, someone excavating your husband’s grave, and a spinster on a hill.  Gosh, women were so evil in 1846.

If all of this sounds intriguing, keep reading for a full review of The Widow of Pale Harbor to see who can save Pale Harbor from the person responsible for cursing it.

Oh, and did we mention that there is a creepy literary aspect too?  All of the murders are based on Edgar Allan Poe stories and poems.

A Creepy and Witchy Gothic Fiction Tale Set In Maine in 1846

Sophronia Carver lives at eerie Castle Carver overlooking the cliffs of Pale Harbor.  Widowed and a woman accused of murdering her wealthy husband, she sits trapped in self-imprisonment with her servant, Helen. 

Helen is much more than a spinster widow with a knack for spells and undefined feelings for Sophronia.  Something odd simmers between the two outcasts and alleged occultists.

Running her husband’s literary magazine keeps Sophronia sane until terrifying and harassing gifts land at her front door: hurt crows and candles with life-threatening notes. 

Are these the cruel acts of bored school children or some sinister and conservative revenge from townsmen?

Did we mention Sophronia is gorgeous too?

A Gust Of Wind Blows In A Hunky Minister With An Penchant For Scandalous Women

What is a pretty widow with walls literally and figuratively around her to do when a handsome and mysterious Trandescendalist minister rolls into town?

Enter Gabriel Stone, an alleged minister escaping the sudden passing of his not-so-innocent wife.  Warned that Sophronia is a murderous witch, he cannot stay away. 

Wildly popular stories are irresistible when the town can’t seem to shut up about Sophy.

Watch as Sophy and Gabe’s love story transpires (or expires) amidst solving a murder mystery.  Townspeople are dropping like fruit flies into our wine, and Sophronia is next on the list. 

The creepiest part?  All of the murders match scenes from Poe’s stories and poems.  Who is this twisted person inspired by Poe?  You know those tales are gruesome AF.

Who Will Stay Up All Night Reading This Gothic Murder Mystery?

1. Lovers Of Salem Witch Trial Books Will Devour The Widow of Pale Harbor

If books about the Salem Witch Trials intrigue you, The Widow of Pale Harbor will offer you a new take on mass hysteria and the jealously surrounding mysteriously beautiful and powerful women.

Pale Harbor is a sleepy town gripped by fear and controlled by hatred.  Sophronia is a dynamic feminist who struggles through lies, deceit, anxiety, and downright hostility. 

The small town of Pale Harbor is frustratingly blind and condemning.

And yes, there are witches — or a witch — in this historical fiction title.  From the start, readers learn that Helen is a master of charms and killer potions.

2. Romance Enthusiasts Who Don’t Want Fluff Will Enjoy Hester Fox Books

Hester Fox is happily a repeat author for us.  TUL reviewed her other title, The Witch of Willow Hallin 2018. 

We never knew gothic romance paired with historical fiction could be so powerful until Fox.  Similar to The Witch of Willow Hall, The Widow of Pale Harbor incorporates love that might not survive the story.

However, while the romance is even more steamy in The Widow of Pale Harbor, it’s not eye-roll-worthy.  Love ignites with the mystery and deadly literary Poe elements.

Plus, in our opinion, there might be some LGBT+ elements at play here, but that is debatable.

3. The Widow of Pale Harbor Is For Readers Who Enjoy Women’s Fiction

Once again like The Witch of Willow Hall, Fox presents readers with a series of dynamic women.  You have servants, friends, and scorned lovers. 

There are affairs, romances, and of course, walls and massive stereotypes.  Fox works hard to paint an accurate picture of mid-1800 society for women.

Sophronia most reminds us of Agnes in Burial Rites by Hannah Kent–a mysterious and attractive leading lady accused as an accomplice to murder. 

Similarly to Agnes, witchcraft and beauty breed jealousy-inspired death sentences.

Watch as these women rise and fall while supporting each other and tearing each other to pieces.  Who will come out with their head held up high and not slit across the throat…

4. History Lovers Will Eat Up The Widow of Pale Harbor: Castle Carver Is Based On IRL Castle Tucker

Lastly, history lovers will enjoy The Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox.  Castle Carver is based on Castle Tucker located in Wiscasset, Maine. 

Castle Tucker is a Victorian home overlooking the sea and built in the early 1800s. Visitors can seasonally visit the castle in the fall and learn about its three generations of inhabitants. 

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More About The Author, Hester Fox

When not working as a collections maintenance technician for museums, Hester Fox is an author and artist.  Hester lives outside Boston and has a background in Medieval studies and historical archeology.

Read more about Hester Fox

Where You Can Find The Witch Of Willow Hall On TUL

Best Books With Witches
Novels With Haunted Houses


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Christine Frascarelli

Christine (she/her) is the owner, lead editor, and tipsy book sommelier of The Uncorked Librarian LLC, an online literary publication showcasing books and movies to inspire travel and home to the famed Uncorked Reading Challenge.

With a BA in English & History from Smith College, an MLIS from USF-Tampa, and a U.S. Fulbright Fellowship in Christine's back pocket, there isn't a bookstore, library, or winery that can hide from her. Christine loves brewery yoga, adopting all of the kitties, and a glass of oaked Chardonnay. Charcuterie is her favorite food group.


  1. I typically don’t read this genre. But your colorful description makes me want to read it asap! I just love the way you write and explain and the overall aesthetics of your blog. If I have said something similar before, my apologies!:)

    1. Gothic fiction is growing on me as a genre. I don’t read a ton of murder mysteries, but this one felt more like romance with a bit of suspense and history.

      Thank you so much!

  2. I had wanted to read THE WITCH OF WILLOW HALL, but I was warned that I would not like the animal death/suffering in it, so I stayed away. Is there animal suffering in THE WIDOW OF PALE HARBOR??? I can handle death (barely), as long as the poor thing didn’t suffer. I’m still traumatized by an animal “experiment” scene I read in THE DARK DESCENT OF ELIZABETH FRANKENSTEIN (amazing novel, but that scene was TOO much. Pls tell me before I go pick this one up, lol. Thanks! xoxo

    1. I feel like I might have been one of those people who warned you about the animal death at the beginning of The Witch of Willow Hall…it definitely put me off as well as all of the other unannounced trigger warnings. I remember seeing a few tweets online about it too. (Granted, I had an ARC from Netgalley for that one so maybe the final version had CW’s). Quite frankly, The Witch of Willow Hall was intense but also well done. I didn’t love the pacing for the middle part of the story, but other than that–and if you skip the cat dismemberment in the very first chapter, you’d be OK.

      The Widow of Pale Harbor has a few implied dead birds and beasts. There is a purposely injured crow at the very beginning (broken wing and maybe a foot) but the crow is fixed and set free by the end. I think you’d be OK for this one because I was OK (and let me tell you, I started reading it with hesitation when crows were showing up hurt and dead). I’d say there is no suffering or nothing that will leave you triggered. You know me–I cannot read any stories where animals are hurt or killed.

      The murderer of the town does do some gruesome things, but I didn’t feel like I had to stop reading.

      Hope that helps. Xxxx

  3. This book sounds sooo good!! I love that it has a little romance of course. And I love a good murder mystery and the gothic and witchcraft elements sound pretty cool!
    I can’t believe that castle is in Wiscasset, Maine!! I was just there! I could have gone! Oh well! Next time!
    Great review! You’re really making me want to read it!!

    1. I really liked The Widow of Pale Harbor for the romance–and I think you’d love that part too!

      Were you really just in Wiscasset, Maine? I’ve been awful about not stalking everyone on IG lately. I knew you were up that way. Dang, we could have a collab literary date lol!

      Thank you!

  4. Is there a spin-off of Poe’s A Tell-Tale Heart in here?!!? If so, count me in! This is so intriguing and I love that you’re already doing spooky content. It gives your readers the opportunity to stock up on some reads before Halloween so that as October rolls around, we’ve got plenty to delve into as the day approaches!

    1. There is definitely a murder related to A Tell-Tale Heart in there. Yuppppp… I think you’d like The Widow of Pale Harbor, for sure!

      It’s prime season for spooky content. If I wasn’t still fighting moving fires, I’d be going ballz to the wallz lol!

      I cannot wait for Halloween, especially in Asheville.

  5. I have not read any of Hester Fox books before. Honestly, I can’t remember when was the last time I read a great murder mystery besides Gone Girl. Wait, does that count as a murder mystery or thriller?

    With Halloween coming, I may need to read one of these books to get me in the mood of the season.

    Great review. Thank you for opening up my world to new titles.

    1. Gone Girl was definitely one of those creepy murder mysteries along with The Woman in Cabin 10 and Girl on the Train, two other titles that you might enjoy (if you haven’t read them). A lot of murder mysteries fall under thrillers unless it’s a cozy mystery, usually. At least that’s what I think…

      I pretty much read The Widow of Pale Harbor in two sittings. The romance sucked me in, and the plot wasn’t that predictable–the ending is like, holy cowwwww that’s a motive.

      The Witch of Willow Hall is good, but I liked The Widow much better. Willow Hall has a ton of trigger warnings and it started with a cat murder (so I was not happy there). However, if you like intense The Witch of Willow Hall checks all of the boxes.

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