Hester Fox is a full-time writer and mother, with a background in museum work and historical archaeology. A native New-Englander, she now lives in rural Virginia with her husband and their son.
Two women. A history of witchcraft. And a deep-rooted female power that sings across the centuries.
Once there was a young woman from a well-to-do New England family who never quite fit with the drawing rooms and parlors of her kin.
Called instead to the tangled woods and wild cliffs surrounding her family’s estate, Margaret Harlowe grew both stranger and more beautiful as she cultivated her uncanny power. Soon, whispers of “witch” dogged her footsteps, and Margaret’s power began to wind itself with the tendrils of something darker.
One hundred and fifty years later, Augusta Podos takes a dream job at Harlowe House, the historic home of a wealthy New England family that has been turned into a small museum in Tynemouth, Massachusetts. When Augusta stumbles across an oblique reference to a daughter of the Harlowes who has nearly been expunged from the historical record, the mystery is too intriguing to ignore.
But as she digs deeper, something sinister unfurls from its sleep, a dark power that binds one woman to the other across lines of blood and time. If Augusta can’t resist its allure, everything she knows and loves—including her very life—could be lost forever.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review & can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Augusta Podos likes to play things safe. But when the opportunity comes up to be a curator at Harlowe House, she feels a pull she can’t explain. The first time she steps through the door, she feels tied to the place, especially when she learns about the Harlowe’s mysterious daughter who has left no trace of herself in the family history. The more Augusta looks into Margaret, and the more time she spends at the house, strange things start happening, and Augusta finds herself haunted by the ghost of Margaret who longs for revenge. Because Margaret Harlowe was wronged in her past life, and she is determined to make up for it in this one.
A Lullaby for Witches is told from two POV’s as well as two different time frames. We have Margaret Harlowe, a girl who has grown up wanting for nothing, yet never quite feeling like she fits into the life she was born to. The people of Tynemouth whisper ‘witch’ behind her back, but the women come to her at night asking for remedies their own doctor cant prescribe. She longs for a life of love and freedom, but her ways are too far ahead for the time and, before long, she finds herself in a situation she cannot escape from. She is wilful, and spirited and you can’t help but feel for her situation, but she also carries a darker side, one which lingers long after she has passed.
Augusta has never really longed for anything, until she starts working at Harlowe House and her hunt for information about Margaret slowly starts to take over her life. The more time she looks into this spirited young woman, the more she realises that wanting for things isn’t bad, breaking out of the norm and trying something new might be just what she needs. But she’s also a little too eager for information, something that is used against her. She’s shy and more prone to living life in the shadows than at the forefront, but her time at Harlowe house has brought her out of her shell in more ways than one. There are a multitude of side characters both in Margaret’s and Augusta’s timelines and they all have a pivotal part to play in the story.
I loved the eerie and atmospheric essence that Fox gave Harlow House. I found myself getting chills when reading certain parts, and I also loved that we got to see it from both perspectives, from Margaret when she lived there and from Augusta in a more professional kind of view as she tried to untangle the mystery of who Margaret Harlowe was. The mystery was expertly woven, we as the reader learnt everything along side the main characters giving it that much more of an impact and emotional punch when we learn Margaret’s true story. It’s both harrowing and heartbreaking, but also realistic to events at the time.
I did feel like the pacing was slightly off. We spend the first 75% of the book learning about Margaret and Augusta, how their stories intertwine, why Margaret doesn’t show up in any of the Harlowe family records and why Augusta feels such a pull to her. But then the main event, the big twist the book was leading up to just seemed to move at a breakneck pace, and ended a little more quickly and easier than I would have liked. I will say that the big plot twist at the end was superbly foreshadowed throughout the book and, even though I had guessed early on which way it was going, I still found myself gasping out loud as the events transpired.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was creepy, but not too scary for wimps like me, and thanks to the authors atmospheric writing it was ridiculously hard to stop reading. A slow burning, but still adrenaline filled paranormal fantasy and I’m eager to check out the authors backlog for more of her works.