This is a tough review to write. To say I loved Hester Fox’s The Witch of Willow Hall and The Widow of Pale Harbor would be an understatement. They are gorgeous books. Hester Fox has put out two books since then and…I haven’t loved either of them half as much.
It feels like her writing has changed or something. I don’t know. But let’s discuss her most recent book: A Lullaby of Witches.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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.
Can we just get right into the review and not do a whole synopsis?? We can?? Ok, let’s do that.
This book switches between two POVs: Augusta (a young woman who works at a museum and is trying to figure out her life) in the present and Margaret (a young woman who uses her witchy powers to help people in her village and who is looking for someone to love) in the past. I think this was the big mistake of the book. Margaret’s parts were quite well-written while Augusta’s were…not so much.
I would have read a whole book on Margaret and her family and her weird AF brother. I would have read about her magic and her healing abilities and how the town turned against her.
But unfortunately, Augusta’s point of view got in the way and I just…wasn’t as excited about her storyline. Her romantic subplot felt rushed and I wasn’t invested at all. AND I LOVE ROMANCE. But this felt like an afterthought.
The guy in Augusta’s romantic subplot felt underwritten as well. He was just…meh. I don’t know. Nothing to swoon over.
I did like when Margaret made herself known in the present to Augusta. That was kind of spooky and we really got to see another side of Margaret that we don’t see too much of in the past. She is not as benevolent of a spirit as you might think but she also has a very good reason for that anger.
Overall, I wanted to love this but it didn’t live up to my expectations. I’m giving it 3 out of 5 stars. One of the things that saved this from being a 2 star was the epilogue. FUCK, it was beautiful. It’s only a couple of pages but I cried! It also solidified my opinion that the whole book should have been about Margaret.
A Lullaby For Witches is available now.
Thank you to Netgalley and Graydon House for the free eARC in exchange for my honest review.
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2 thoughts on “A Lullaby of Witches by Hester Fox: The Power of the Past”
Personally, I prefer reviews that are not just a rewording of the book’s synopsis lol. Thanks for this review, I’ll definitely check this book out!
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