Chilled to the core…. Hester Fox has done it again!
For the first 50% of the story, I wasn’t feeling any raptures. I had read two of her previous works and knew the author’s impressive storytelling capability, so I did start A Lullaby of Witches with a fair amount of expectation. And the plot of course was compelling for someone who is a HUGE fan of dual time storylines and gimme some badass witches into the mix, and I would be overjoyed. BUT Hester Fox surprised me with the OH MY GOD twist just after the middle part of the story and from then on, it was an exhilarating ride to the finish line.
Parallel stories of two women, both facing questions about their worth and value and sharing similarities in their characteristics have been kind of used repeatedly by authors but Hester Fox does take it a step further by adding layers of witchcraft and ghostly menace into the story. Margaret Harlowe is not an endearing character, one can see a streak of cruelty and selfishness in her actions, but the reader is also made to sympathize with her. In spite of her being born with golden spoon status, she’s aware of her outsider status in the family which makes her suffer pangs of loneliness, and having unexplained powers to do things adds to her turmoil. Centuries later, Augusta’s arrival at the Harlowe House brings about changes in the dormant status quo and as Augusta explores the story of a young woman called Margaret, things begin to happen, and NO, not the kind that goes bump into the night, this is more insidious; hallucinations that give Augusta a walk-thru experience of Margaret’s love and loss causing fainting spells and agony.
The mystery surrounding Margaret’s death was brilliant, even though the ‘who’ and the ‘why’ is easily guessable, the ‘How’ of it was intriguing. The climax of the story surprised me no end, as I was eagerly waiting to know how everything would tie up at the end. Hester Fox has definitely written a brooding gothic thriller but the underlying story of both Augusta and Margaret trying to find their place in society and fighting for themselves was equally fascinating.
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.
This post contains affiliate links for products and services I recommend. If you make a purchase through those links, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.