The Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox
Gabriel finds his way to the small village of Pale Harbor, Maine to serve as its new Unitarian minister, following the death of his wife. He feels he has much to atone for and hopes this new career and new location will heal his grieving heart. As soon as he arrives, however, he notices darkness afoot in the community, with animal sacrifices and evidence of the occult around town. Fingers in the village all seem to point to the young beautiful widow, Sophronia, who was accused of orchestrating her wealthy and powerful husband’s death. Gabriel feels himself drawn to Sophronia, although the villagers say he’s fallen under her spell, but as he gets to know her he becomes more and more convinced that she couldn’t be behind the evil lurking around every turn. As the dark deeds progress from dead animals to dead people, Gabriel and Sophronia realize that the evil force in their community is working through a very mortal and human face, but which human face? Every clue they come across references Edgar Allen Poe in some way, and it will take all their research and courage to step in before it’s too late.
A modern version of a Victorian Sensation novel, at first I was a little ho-hum about this one, but as it progresses and the drama and clues start to come out, I found myself really enjoying it. It was just spooky enough for my October desires. At times, the romance felt a little forced or cliche, but I still rooted for the couple. My biggest con would be that it was never fully explained why the villagers decided beautiful, intelligent, kind Sophronia was capable of evil and shunned her, and my biggest love was the gorgeous atmosphere and time period, which totally drew me in. I’d say it was a good, but not great, read.