Friday, June 3, 2022

Review: A Lullaby for Witches by Hester Fox

by Hester Fox
Release Date:  February 1st, 2022
2022 Graydon House
Kindle Edition; 320 Pages
ISBN: 978-1525804694
Audiobook: B09DQ91T2B
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Paranormal 
Source: Review copy from publisher
3.25 / 5 Stars
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.
My Thoughts
A Lullaby for Witches definitely had an interesting concept: a haunted house, a mystery, secrets, some difficult relationships,  pretty much everything I like about this genre.  This is why I keep returning to this author's books, but no matter how interesting the concept and how much potential there is in the story, I always come away feeling somewhat disappointed. In this one, I really disliked one of the story lines and really wished the author had focused on Augusta's search for information and her paranormal activities instead.  It took everything I had not to just skip over the chapters featuring Margaret.

First of all, I really disliked Margaret as a character.  I think the author wanted the reader to feel sympathetic towards her situation so that we would be more understanding when we finally met her again later on, but all it did was turn me right off her character.  Her behaviour, her thoughts, and how she dealt with people were just too much and I actually felt sympathy for her paramour which is not how I think I was supposed to feel. The scenes where Margaret was making 'eyes' at him in the store still make me cringe, so awful.  I feel like the author was trying to make her seem independent and strong during a time when women didn't have a lot of independence. Unfortunately, this affected other parts of the book for me as well as the ending as I did not feel any empathy for this character whatsoever. 
Because of this strong feeling for Margaret, I was a bit more receptive to Augusta and the other characters during the present time, simply because it was a breath of fresh air to read about people who were not so narcissistic.  To be honest, I would have preferred the entire book to be about Augusta and her search through the documents to find more information about Margaret as that would have been less cringe worthy and far more interesting.  However, Augusta had the personality of a wet mop.  Despite my dislike of Margaret, she definitely had more personality and spunk.  

The book is written in a dual timeline format and I am fast becoming annoyed by the overuse of this format.  Does it work in certain cases? Yes, absolutely, but not here.  I think it would have been more mysterious if we learned about Margaret as Augusta researched her and through some more paranormal activity.  There was little to no suspense in this book, and I found it to be quite predictable.  The interesting stuff, like Augusta's heritage, was rushed and some of the story line was a bit messy, with little to no explanations for how the character came up with the conclusions they did. 

A Lullaby for Witches had all the elements for a potentially good book, but it failed to deliver on many levels.  While the writing wasn't bad, it had more of a telling style rather than letting the reader explore and figure things out with the main character and the dual time lines certainly didn't help.  There were some huge plot holes that were not explained very well and one of the main characters was not very likeable.  The author definitely does her research however, and puts a lot of effort into making sure the reader has an understanding of the time periods and the settings.  I was looking for that eerie Gothic feeling, and unfortunately, this book did not quite do that for me.