The Black Queen by. Jumata Emill | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: The Black Queen

Author: Jumata Emill

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 400

Publication Date: 1/31/23

Publisher: Writers House

Categories: Contemporary, Murder Mystery, Suspense, LGBT+

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Thank you to Writers House for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Nova Albright was going to be the first Black homecoming queen at Lovett High—but now she’s dead. Murdered on coronation night. Fans of One of Us Is Lying and The Other Black Girl will love this unputdownable thriller.

Nova Albright, the first Black homecoming queen at Lovett High, is dead. Murdered the night of her coronation, her body found the next morning in the old slave cemetery she spent her weekends rehabilitating.

Tinsley McArthur was supposed to be queen. Not only is she beautiful, wealthy, and white, it’s her legacy—her grandmother, her mother, and even her sister wore the crown before her. Everyone in Lovett knows Tinsley would do anything to carry on the McArthur tradition.

No one is more certain of that than Duchess Simmons, Nova’s best friend. Duchess’s father is the first Black police captain in Lovett. For Duchess, Nova’s crown was more than just a win for Nova. It was a win for all the Black kids. Now her best friend is dead, and her father won’t fact the fact that the main suspect is right in front of him. Duchess is convinced that Tinsley killed Nova—and that Tinsley is privileged enough to think she can get away with it. But Duchess’s father seems to be doing what he always does: fall behind the blue line. Which means that the white girl is going to walk.

Duchess is determined to prove Tinsley’s guilt. And to do that, she’ll have to get close to her.

But Tinsley has an agenda, too.

Everyone loved Nova. And sometimes, love is exactly what gets you killed.

Content Warning: racism, mention of child sexual abuse, violence, inappropriate relationship between student/teacher

I thought the synopsis for this book was very intriguing and I was in the mood for a murder mystery so this was great. This is what I thought:

+ I like the dual perspective of this story. There is Duchess who is Nova’s best friend and who gives us a lot of insight into her after Nova is murdered. On the other end is Tinsley, who is the popular girl vying for Homecoming Queen against Nova. There is animosity between Nova and Tinsley before Nova is murdered and Tinsley is the number one suspect.

+ Duchess has an interesting history with Tinsley but I like how they work together to figure out who really killed Nova. They aren’t exactly friends but I like that they both come to an understanding. Now Duchess and Nova are best friends and we see that in the beginning – but did Duchess really know Nova’s secrets? I found it interesting how the investigation into Nova’s death exposes some things about their friendship that Duchess has to face.

+ There are some heavy themes throughout the story such as child sexual abuse, family secrets, the undercurrents of racism happening with another murder case happening in town, but I thought it was interesting how it was woven into the story. Tinsley is white, privileged and said hateful things about Nova to Nova’s face and to others making her suspect number one. But I did like that she eventually open her eyes to some things, and wants to make an effort to change.

+ I let this story take me for a ride. I had lots of suspicions and of course one of them is the killer, but I think the story got better and better the more each secret was revealed. There are a lot of clues throughout the story, but I still like how we get to examine all the different suspects.

~ Tinsley is an unlikable character but she’s also interesting. She’s basically trying to clear her name but then finds out some secrets and has to figure out what it means for her. If you think she’s going to change much – you’ll be disappointed. But I also think it’s realistic and at least she brings up wanting to learn by the end. She was not going to change overnight.

Why you should read it:

  • you like murder mysteries
  • it’s dark and twisty and touches on racial issues in a southern town

Why you might not want to read it:

  • might be a bit predictable – but I thought it was fun examining all the suspects
  • Tinsley is not very likable

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this one especially in the second half of the book where there are twists in the story. I think the characters were done well, especially Tinsley (who is very unlikable) and Duchess, and how despite their differences they both help one another to help solve Nova’s murder. I like that there were a lot of suspicious characters in this story and it had a dramatic ending. I definitely want to read more from this debut author!

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Nothing More to Tell by. Karen M. McManus | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: Nothing More to Tell

Format: ebook (borrowed)

Author: Karen M. McManus

Pages: 368

Publication Date: 8/29/22

Categories: Young Adult, Thriller, Murder Mystery, Romance, Crime

True crime can leave a false trail.

Four years ago, Brynn left Saint Ambrose School following the shocking murder of her favourite teacher. The case was never solved, but she’s sure that the three kids who found Mr. Larkin’s body know more than they’re telling, especially her ex-best friend Tripp Talbot. He’s definitely hiding something.

When Brynn gets an internship working on a popular true-crime show, she decides to investigate what really happened that day in the woods. But the further she dives into the past, the more secrets she finds.

Four years ago someone got away with murder. Now it’s time to uncover the truth . . .

Content Warning: neglectful parent, murder scene description, underage drinking

I’ve read one book from this author and enjoyed it. I’ve been meaning to read more so I decided to borrow this one and enjoyed it! Here’s what I thought:

+ The story flows so well and I could not figure who the murderer was yet had all my suspicions! I like many of the twists the story took, it really kept me on my toes and engaged. I read this in one sitting.

+ I like Brynn and Tripp a lot. They used to be friends, until Tripp pushed her away. Brynn moved away and is now back in Sturgis. Clearly Tripp had the biggest crush on her when they were kids, but it’s cute to see her like him now as they are older. I liked them together and though the romance takes a back seat, I did like that it was there because I’m a romance lover.

+ I thought the whole cast was great and had their roles to play. I love Brynn’s younger sister who actually helped Brynn kind of solve this murder mystery.

~ My major issue with the book is the ending. It didn’t seem like a totally shut case for who they suspected the murderer to be. I know the story was pulled in so many directions which left me guessing as to who really committed the crime, but even the ending didn’t give us solid evidence or a confession of the crime. This story may bug me…unless they turn it into a series. I want closure! lol

~ This is supposedly set in a private school and though it mentions the division between elite and dregs…not much comes out of that. It doesn’t show much division between the kids. So I’d say it didn’t really give off those vibes.

Tropes: childhood friends to enemies to lovers

Spice Level:

Why you should read it:

  • kept me on my toes, it’s fun, engaging and entertaining – read it in one sitting
  • Brynn and Tripp’s little romance was cute in the midst of the murder mystery

Why you might not want to read it:

  • ending felt a little anti-climatic, is it going to be a series? 🤔

My Thoughts:

I’m glad I read this one, it kept me on the toes to the very end! I just wish the ending evidence around the supposedly killer was more concrete – it was left a bit open I think. So I’m not sure if there will be a spin off? It would be cool to see Brynn’s sister have her own story because that girl was on it and helping Brynn figure stuff out. Overall, I enjoyed this book!

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The Cousins | Book Review ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Ivies by. Alexa Donne | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Ivies

Author: Alexa Donne

Format: Hardcover (borrowed)

Pages: 320

Publication Date: 5/25/21

Publisher: Crown

Categories: Prep School, Murder Mystery, Young Adult

Everyone knows the Ivies: the most coveted universities in the United States. Far more important are the Ivies. The Ivies at Claflin Academy, that is. Five girls with the same mission: to get into the Ivy League by any means necessary. I would know. I’m one of them. We disrupt class ranks, club leaderships, and academic competitions…among other things. We improve our own odds by decreasing the fortunes of others. Because hyper-elite competitive college admissions is serious business. And in some cases, it’s deadly.

Alexa Donne delivers a nail-biting and timely thriller about teens who will stop at nothing to get into the college of their dreams. Too bad no one told them murder isn’t an extracurricular.

I like a good murder mystery and this one is fairly interesting. It’s about a group of girls at a prep school who call themselves the Ivies because they will do ANYTHING to get into the Ivy School of their dreams. The group has the typical head mean girl, her cronies and then the weakest link who is Olivia, because she’s the poor scholarship girl. Something happens to Emma, one of the girls in the group – she is murdered and Olivia wants to find out who did it.

Olivia’s investigation takes us into the world of the Ivies and all the stuff they did to other students at Claflin to put themselves ahead. I think the story did a good enough job keeping me on my toes trying to figure who the killer could be, but my suspicions were pretty on point.

It’s a quick read and has lots of prep school drama. If you like scandals then you will enjoy this one.

Content Warnings: bullying, death, toxic relationships

I didn’t connect to any of the characters because I couldn’t relate to their situations. I don’t know anyone who would do all the things they did to get into an Ivy league school – so it was a bit too dramatic for me.

I didn’t really feel the romance building between Olivia and Ethan.

Why you should read it?

  • you like a drama filled prep school story
  • you like ya murder mysteries

Why you might not want to read it?

  • can’t relate
  • predictable

My Thoughts:

This was an okay read. The story was a bit predictable but I guess the fake friendship of the Ivies was entertaining enough for me to finish the book. Sometimes it’s interesting to see how far a character would go to get what they want!

📚 ~ Yolanda

How We Fall Apart by. Katie Zhao | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 Stars

Title: How We Fall Apart

Author: Katie Zhao

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 352

Publication Date: 8/17/21

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Categories: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Dark Academia, Prep School

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Thank you to Bloomsbury YA for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Students at an elite prep school are forced to confront their secrets when their ex-best friend turns up dead.

Nancy Luo is shocked when her former best friend, Jamie Ruan, top ranked junior at Sinclair Prep, goes missing, and then is found dead. Nancy is even more shocked when word starts to spread that she and her friends–Krystal, Akil, and Alexander–are the prime suspects, thanks to “The Proctor,” someone anonymously incriminating them via the school’s social media app.

They all used to be Jamie’s closest friends, and she knew each of their deepest, darkest secrets. Now, somehow The Proctor knows them, too. The four must uncover the true killer before The Proctor exposes more than they can bear and costs them more than they can afford, like Nancy’s full scholarship. Soon, Nancy suspects that her friends may be keeping secrets from her, too.

How We Fall Apart is a look into Asian students at Sinclair Prep, trying to stay on top of the pack with perfect grades. When top girl Jamie Ruan is found dead, someone accuses her closest four friends of committing the crime. But who really killed Jamie and why?

This story is told by Jamie’s best friend/nemesis, Nancy Luo. Nancy isn’t rich like her other friends. Her mom was the maid for the Ruan family so Nancy always envied Jamie’s power and wealth – but was that enough to be a motive for her to kill her? I liked how we didn’t really know who could be the killer. “The Proctor” is dishing out secrets on Jamie’s best friends and the secrets are juicy and scandalous – Nancy’s being the worst, I think.

I think we get a good glimpse of the issues between Asian students – rich and poor, the competition, the pressure to succeed that is put upon them by their families. There was also the issues of Asian students dealing with their peers who are not Asian, who had prejudices against them because of their race – like automatically being “smart” because they were Asian. I liked how Nancy felt anger about that, knowing how hard her parents worked to put her through school.

I liked the second half of the book more than the first because the secrets were being revealed and the story moved faster. There’s a twist at the end that explain this Incident that Nancy and her friends keep mentioning but never goes into detail about and it was nice to finally know what happened during that event. It wasn’t what I expected which was good.

Trigger: suicide, murder, drug use, bullying, teacher/student affair, abuse, mental illness

I wasn’t connecting to any of the characters until the second part of the book. I found Jamie the typical rich girl bully who gets her way, Nancy is her shadow. Akil, Krystal and Alexander were there to round it out but this story is mostly about Jamie and Nancy. I think I wanted more from Nancy, but that really doesn’t come into play until the last few pages. So for most of the story she was a bit lackluster to me.

The ending is left open for a book two. Is this where Nancy really reveals her personality? That would be intriguing. It did make me curious about what The Golden Trio did that Alex knows about.

The teacher/student affair was a no for me. I get it was deliciously scandalous though, Nancy’s secrets were the most dangerous ones. But Peter needs to be taken down.

I think this book will appeal to a lot of people who like dark academia with all the scandals taking place at Sinclair Prep, it definitely is a story that keeps you on your toes. I did like how it addressed some issues that Asian students deal with in a prep school setting, the crazy pressure and competitiveness they experience on unhealthy levels. We get a glimpse of all the darkness that comes with trying to stay on top like abuse, drug use, and parental neglect. It just shows money can’t buy everything. I do wish it had a little more intensity because it’s a thriller and I did want more from Nancy as well. But overall it was a quick read with an interesting twist at the end and a lead up for book two.

📚 ~ Yolanda

14 Ways to Die | ARC Review

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Title: 14 Ways to Die

Author: Vincent Ralph

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 384

Publication Date: 6/1/21

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Categories: Murder Mystery, Social Media, Young Adult, Contemporary

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

A page-turning thriller for the social media age, perfect for fans of A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder and One of Us Is Lying.

Ten years ago Jess lost her mother to the Magpie Man, an infamous serial killer who is still at large and planning to kill again. She’s going to use her new platform as the star of a YouTube reality series to catch him. That is, if he doesn’t catch her first.

Jess’s online show means that everyone is talking about her mother’s murder case. But fame comes with its downsides. The whole world is watching her every move. And it’s hard to know who she can trust.

Could the Magpie Man be lurking closer to her than she thought? Is he watching her right now?

  • I like the concept of using social media to find a serial killer by drawing them out. It’s also a scary idea but Jess was committed to finding her mother’s killer.
  • The story moved very quickly because the chapters were short and to the point.
  • It was difficult to pinpoint who was the Magpie Man so the author did a great job of hiding him from me, the reader. I had a few suspects in mind but I was wrong.
  • There were some parts that was thrilling and made me wonder if I would do what Jess is doing. My answer: NO. I’d be too afraid to go running out into the night to see who was out there creeping around my house.
  • Triggers: suicide ideation, murder scenes, grief
  • I like short chapters but at one point it made the story too choppy for me, it took me out of the story at times.
  • I didn’t connect much to the story maybe because we are in Jess’s head a lot and I wanted more clues about the killer. Honestly, when the killer was revealed, it felt anticlimactic.

The concept of luring a serial killer with a social media reality show is fascinating. For the most part I was engaged with the story and wanting to find out who was the killer but the big reveal fell short for me. I still think people who enjoy young adult murder mysteries will enjoy this one though.

📚 ~ Yolanda

The Conductors | ARC Review

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Title: The Conductors

Author: Nicole Glover

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 384

Publication Date: 3/2/21

Publisher: John Joseph Adams/Mariner Books

Categories: Mystery, Historical Fantasy, Slavery, Underground Railroad, Magic, Adult Fiction

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

A compelling debut by a new voice in fantasy fiction, The Conductors features the magic and mystery of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files written with the sensibility and historical setting of Octavia Butler’s Kindred: Introducing Hetty Rhodes, a magic-user and former conductor on the Underground Railroad who now solves crimes in post–Civil War Philadelphia.

As a conductor on the Underground Railroad, Hetty Rhodes helped usher dozens of people north with her wits and magic. Now that the Civil War is over, Hetty and her husband Benjy have settled in Philadelphia, solving murders and mysteries that the white authorities won’t touch. When they find one of their friends slain in an alley, Hetty and Benjy bury the body and set off to find answers. But the secrets and intricate lies of the elites of Black Philadelphia only serve to dredge up more questions. To solve this mystery, they will have to face ugly truths all around them, including the ones about each other.

  • I love how the underground railroad and slavery history are part of this story. Hetty helped many people escape the South after the Civil War by using her magic and bravery. Now that she is in Philadelphia she plays a role in figuring out murders taking place around them, some of the victims being her friends.
  • The celestial magic in the story was very interesting. I liked how it was based off of constellations and they used sigils to conjure up the magic.
  • Hetty is a strong character – she is smart, caring and so brave.
  • Hetty and Benjy’s relationship was a marriage of convenience but it grew into something more which was so nice to see. They really were partners in solving the mystery and taking care of the people around them.
  • Triggers: slavery, abuse, murder
  • This is definitely a mystery, not quite a cozy mystery, and mysteries and I have a strained relationship – meaning if it’s too slow, I will not be invested in the story. This was slow for me. If you like mysteries though, this might be up your alley.
  • It would have been nice to learn more about the magic system because it sounded so fascinating. I love the idea of using the constellation sigils as magic. I just needed a little more information about the magic.

The concept of blending magic, black history tied to slavery, post civil war and the underground railroad is fantastic. I just wished the story held my attention more and that we got to see more of the magic system. In the end, Hetty and Benjy make a good partnership as they figure out the mysteries and investigates murders happening around them. Even though this book wasn’t for me, I think mystery lovers will really enjoy this book because of it’s uniqueness.

📚 ~ Yolanda

ARC Review | A Forgotten Murder

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: A Forgotten Murder (A Medlar Mystery)

Author: Jude Deveraux

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 400

Publication Date: March 10, 2020

Categories: Murder Mystery

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

After solving two murder cases in their hometown of Lachlan, Florida, Sara Medlar, her niece Kate and their friend Jack need a change of scenery. Sara arranges for them to visit an old friend of hers in England. Upon arrival at Oxley Manor, a centuries-old estate that has been converted to a luxury hotel, Kate and Jack quickly realize that Sara is up to something. They learn that Sara has also invited a number of others to join them at Oxley.

When everyone assembles, Sara lets them know why they are there. Decades earlier, two people ran off together from Oxley and haven’t been heard from since—and Sara wants to solve the case. As the people who were there the night the two went missing, the guests find themselves cast in a live mystery-theater event.

In reenacting the events of that night, it becomes clear that everyone has something to hide and no one is safe, especially when the discovery of a body makes it clear that at least one of the people who disappeared was murdered.

Sara, Jack and Kate are once again at the heart of a mysterious case that only they are able to solve. But someone is willing to continue to kill to keep the truth about Oxley Manor buried, and none of the guests are safe.

Thank you to MIRA and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

The mystery genre is not something I usually read unless someone asks me and this was the case for this book except, the author’s name is so well known to me, I agreed to read and review this. Jude Deveraux used to be one of my favorite romance writers in the 1990’s! She wrote historical romance back then and now contemporary books, which I have not read at all.

I have not read any other book in this series – I believe this is the third book in the Medlar Mystery series, but I will say this did pretty good as a standalone. There is a gathering at Oxley Manor, and Sara, Kate and Jack are there to figure out what happened in a missing persons case years ago. There are suspects galore, a dead body, and an old luxury manor. It’s a great recipe for a murder mystery.

  • Since I jumped into this series with the third book, I liked how there was enough background of the main characters: Sara, Kate and Jack without it feeling like an info dump. I didn’t feel lost because this really felt like a new mystery.
  • Kate and Jack have great chemistry. Here is when I did wish I read the previous books because I want to know how they met and got together. Jack is a wonderful, protective character. I like how he could get Puck to talk even though Puck has a reputation for being a recluse.
  • There are many suspects in this story but I like the twist at the end. I love a mystery where there is some old manor or house as the setting. It just sets the tone for the story and gives me CLUE vibes.
  • I don’t read many mysteries so it’s not like I can compare it to many I’ve read before but I really enjoyed the characters in this story.
  • It may have lost my attention a few times only because I wasn’t in the mood for a mystery (it’s rare that I am) so it’s not anything against the book, just a pure ME thing.

Overall, I enjoyed the characters and the setting of the story. If you like a good mystery, I think you will enjoy this one!

ARC Review | Saint X

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Saint X

Author: Alexis Schaitkin

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 352

Categories: Murder Mystery, Adult, Contemporary

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Claire is only seven years old when her college-age sister, Alison, disappears on the last night of their family vacation at a resort on the Caribbean island of Saint X. Several days later, Alison’s body is found in a remote spot on a nearby cay, and two local men – employees at the resort – are arrested. But the evidence is slim, the timeline against it, and the men are soon released. The story turns into national tabloid news, a lurid mystery that will go unsolved. For Claire and her parents, there is only the return home to broken lives.

Years later, Claire is living and working in New York City when a brief but fateful encounter brings her together with Clive Richardson, one of the men originally suspected of murdering her sister. It is a moment that sets Claire on an obsessive pursuit of the truth – not only to find out what happened the night of Alison’s death but also to answer the elusive question: Who exactly was her sister? At seven, Claire had been barely old enough to know her: a beautiful, changeable, provocative girl of eighteen at a turbulent moment of identity formation.

As Claire doggedly shadows Clive, hoping to gain his trust, waiting for the slip that will reveal the truth, an unlikely attachment develops between them, two people whose lives were forever marked by the same tragedy.

Thank you to Celadon Books and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

I went into this thinking it was a murder mystery where we find the clues to who murdered Alison, but I got something else.

Claire is an adult now but the death of her sister years ago still affects her and the people that were involved with the investigation. Instead of a real murder mystery, we are treated more to a look at the people that were affected by her death. There are news articles, witness statements, statements even from people who weren’t there but knew Alison. Claire runs into one of the people who was a suspect in Alison’s and she gets obsessed with wanting to find out what happened that night. What she comes away with is insight about her sister and man accused of committing the crime.

  • This was not the murder mystery I expected, but reading Alison’s journals and hearing accounts from people she came into contact was keeping me interested in this story! I did have to put this book down for a few days because I was bummed it was reading like a usual murder mystery but I’m glad I stuck it through.
  • I liked that we get to meet Clive, who was one of the last people to see Alison alive and we get to see his back story. Through him we get to know the island Saint X and the local lifestyle as we watch him and his best friend Edgar grow up. Clive hasn’t had an easy life, compared to Claire who grew up wealthy and privileged. But they both experience pain in their lives.
  • Alison is such an interesting character and we get to know her through her journals, videos, and personal accounts but in reality she was still so young and was finding herself.
  • I’m glad Claire got closure in a way – she had tried to avoid everything about Alison and her murder all her life, understandably since she was so young when it happened. What a traumatic event to go through and try to process. When she bumps into Clive out of the blue, it hashes up all the memories of what happened and the sister she thought she knew.
  • I think of all the characters in this book, Clive’s story was the strongest. His childhood, how he grew up on the island, how his mom abandoned him, meeting Alison and the night of the murder. Then there is the aftermath where he is living in NYC.
  • The ending was definitely unexpected! It’s sad how know one really knew the real Alison, she was still learning about herself too when she died.
  • There were times in the book I was slugging through and like I said, I even put it down for a few weeks. There are a lot of different accounts being told, sometimes randomly from a teacher of Alison’s or someone who barely knew her. The beginning is slow if you are expecting a usual murder mystery, and I seriously wanted to DNF this book but I didn’t. When we finally get to Clive’s story about what happened the night Alison died is when I was fully immersed in the story. This comes past the halfway mark!
  • Triggers: death

I almost gave up on this one but I’m glad I didn’t because in the end I did enjoy it. Don’t go into reading this thinking it’s a fast paced thriller murder mystery. It is more of a character study of Alison, the murder victim, and the people that are left behind with the aftermath of a traumatic event.

ARC Review | The Widow of Pale Harbor

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Widow of Pale Harbor

Author: Hester Fox

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 384

Categories: Murder Mystery, Historical Fiction, Adult, Gothic, Romance

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

A town gripped by fear. A woman accused of witchcraft. Who can save Pale Harbor from itself?

Maine, 1846. Gabriel Stone is desperate to escape the ghosts that haunt him in Massachusetts after his wife’s death, so he moves to Maine, taking a position as a minister in the remote village of Pale Harbor.

But not all is as it seems in the sleepy town. Strange, unsettling things have been happening, and the townspeople claim that only one person can be responsible: Sophronia Carver, a reclusive widow who lives with a spinster maid in the eerie Castle Carver. Sophronia must be a witch, and she almost certainly killed her husband.

As the incidents escalate, one thing becomes clear: they are the work of a twisted person inspired by the wildly popular stories of Mr. Edgar Allan Poe. And Gabriel must find answers, or Pale Harbor will suffer a fate worthy of Poe’s darkest tales. 

Thank you to Graydon House and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

I just got approved to read this book though it’s been out for a month now. This is a wonderful autumn read because it has a gothic vibe to it. Mrs. Sophronia Carver is a widow and lives in a house called Castle Carver. Everyone in Pale Harbor thinks she killed her husband so she never leaves her house. Then Gabriel Stone comes to town as the new minister but he’s as mysterious as they come. There are strange things happening in Pale Harbor and Gabriel and Mrs. Carver need to find out who is behind them before people get hurt.

  • The gothic atmosphere in this story is fantastic. It definitely gave me a spooky vibe with Castle Carver up on a hill, and Sophronia, the widow who barely leaves her house. Pale Harbor is the perfect place for things to go bump in the night.
  • The murder mystery kept me guessing and I LOVE all the references to Edgar Allan Poe because I love Poe! The twist in the end wan’t something I expected so it definitely kept me on my toes.
  • I did enjoy the romance building between Gabriel Stone and Sophronia Carver because it made her come out of her shell. Before Gabriel appears, Sophronia is shown as a very fearful person. No one in town really knew her except for the people that worked for her, which was very few. Gabriel made her feel brave.
  • Helen, Sophronia’s housekeeper is more than what she seems and she came off suspicious from the start! Her relationship with Sophronia was a bit much, to the point of obsession, you can see why she was my #1 suspect!
  • I wish we got to learn a more about Gabriel Stone – why am I still suspicious of him? LOL I think I wanted him to have a shadier past than he did. 😂 This book made me second guess everyone! 👀🤔

This is definitely a perfect Fall release and October mood read! It has Edgar Allah Poe references (which I adore), a mysterious widow and a minister, nefarious deeds, a little witchcraft and a lot of suspects. If you are into a gothic romantic murder mystery, this will hit the spot.