Current day – Augusta is a 20-something museum studies graduate who lands her dream job as a museum collection manager in a the historical Harlowe home. Her relationship with her boyfriend is less than ideal, but Augusta is the type of woman who blames herself and doesn’t think she should expect better.
1876 – Margaret is the only girl in the wealthy Harlowe family. She doesn’t quite fit in, so she charts her own path, developing her own not-quite-natural abilities. But it is 1876. Woman are expected to live a certain way and deviation from that can lead to terrible consequences.
The lives of these two women, centuries apart, intersect when Augusta starts working in the house that Margaret once lived in. Ghost or witch – Margaret pulls Augusta into her past, because she wants something from Augusta. Augusta becomes interested in the life of one who’s story was lost because she was a woman.
The Kearsley-esque dual story line gives both the historical and present-day view of women. As their lives intertwine, history unfolds. Both Margaret and Augusta have man problems. The difference is Margaret and her lover are dead (or so it would seem) but the reader hopes that Augusta can still do better.
Augusta is young enough to lack a certain maturity I like in my heroines, but younger readers will appreciate her struggles. Even Margaret garners a little sympathy as a 19th century woman facing a rigid society. The museum setting was perfect for telling the story of two women who lived 150 years apart. This contemporary, historical, paranormal tale has a little bit of romance and a little bit of mystery. The verdict – A Lullaby for Witches is perfect for fans of Susanna Kearsley who are looking for a less complex story, but appreciate a well-crafted tale.
Through Netgalley, the publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
About A Lullaby for Witches by Hester Fox
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.
Add A Lullaby for Witches to your Goodreads shelf:
Today is the sixth anniversary of Whiskey With My Book. Over its short lifespan, the types of posts have changed but the basic premise remains the same. I started blogging because I love to read great books and I want to share them with like-minded people like you.
Today, 98% of my posts are book reviews. While I do take requests for book reviews, mostly I review books that I choose. Lately, I have become even more picky about what I choose to read and review. Taking the time to read a book and then write a meaningful review takes valuable time. I want don’t want to squander it on something that I cannot recommend. That is why 4 and 5 stars are the norm for this blog.
Last year I had a total of 68 posts. It was kind of a slow year for posting reviews. But it was a big year for reading. 172 books all together. 35 of those were children’s picture books that I must read as a librarian. I listened to 38 audiobooks. The rest fall into various and overlapping categories that include mystery, romance, scifi, historical and paranormal. If you would like to know the titles, I read, here is my Goodreads Year in Books 2021.
Today, I will share some highlight of what I read in 2021. If anything interests you, click on the book covers to take you to Amazon.
Highlights of 2021
The Vanished Days by Susanna Kearsley – I absolutely loved The Winter Sea and The Firebird by this author. The Vanished Days is a prequel to this Scottish/Slains series. The author employs her typical epic storytelling combined with her keen ability to drop clues and reveal truths in a way Kearsley historical fiction fans have come to appreciate.
A Song of Flight by Juliet Marillier – This book was a beautiful wrap -up for Marillier’s Warrior Bards fantasy series. I was crying at the beginning (sadness) and at the end (happiness). I am such a fan of her beautiful storytelling.
Plan for the Worst by Jodi Taylor – Every book in this series both breaks my heart and gives me hope. But this one was so, so, so! If you read the series you understand. If you don’t read the series – you should! Definitely one of the best of the time-travel series out there.
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir – A lot of science gobbledygook wrapped up in a drama of world-ending crisis, friendship, heartbreak and triumph. My first Andy Weir book – I’d read him again.
New books in series I love to follow…
These are the series I keep reading. Mind you, not all series keep me interested past 3 books. A fact, I think, that some authors have figured out because they end series with book 3. But these are stories that I have not grown tired of, in fact I look forward to more of them. I will continue to read them as long as the authors continue to write them:
King of Pain (Interstellar Rescue) by Donna S. Frelick – Scifi Romance
Cosmic Boom (Project Enterprise) by Pauline Baird Jones – Scifi Romance
Books 1-6 in Celine Jeanjean’s Razor’s Edge series – Urban Fantasy
Books 3 and 4 in The Fae Files by Cecilia Dominic – Paranormal Romance
A Wicked Conceit (Lady Darby) by Anna Lee Huber – Historical Mystery
I normally gravitate to books about strong-willed heterosexual women and the men they love. Occasionally I read outside my box and this year I found two I really liked.
The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite is a historical romance about two women who really prefer to have control over their own lives. Winter’s Orbit by new author Everina Maxwell is scifi romance and one of my favorite books of the year. It features two men from different worlds who find out how much they want each other while solving a techno-political mystery.
Cozy mysteries are like the sherbet course between other courses. They cleanse the palette. Vampire Knitting Club series by Nancy Warren is a funny, fun series that combines mystery, paranormal and fine needlework – a combination that can’t be beat!
What’s wrong with this world?
Over the last two years, much has happened that has made me consider writing blogs that reflect more personal socio-political views. But this blog is about enjoying great books, so you will not see those types of posts here. However, I am not against recommending books that either reflect a personal view or give you cause the think about what is wrong with this world.
Emergency Skin by N.K. Jemison – Brilliant Scifi short story! When the elite humans need to return to the Earth they abandoned for a better life, they might find out they are not so elite after all.
A Wolf After My Own Heart by MaryJanice Davidson – this paranormal romance has so many hilarious and sobering comments about characters and events in the story that reflect what is going on in the real world. I will definitely continue to read this author.
Axiom’s End and Truth of the Divine by Lindsay Ellis – I enjoyed both of these scifi stories about first contact. One of the major premises is that a little leads to a lot. That is a very simplified statement, but if you consider that this can apply to limiting individual rights or censorship, it says a lot.
I read 3 books in the Dragonfury series from Coreen Callahan. She does a fine job telling the story of heroic male dragon shifters finding their high energy females. Easy to read, fast moving plots. Fun! I’ve read all of Patricia Briggs Alpha and Omega series, but before 2021, had never read any of the related Mercy Thompson series. Books 1-5 on audiobook sped by and I hope to catch up the rest of the series in 2022. I really like coyote walker Mercy Thompson and werewolf Adam Hauptman. The ties to Alpha and Omega is just an added benefit.
Some books just don’t live up their hype. Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells is the 6th book in the series. It was waning with book 5, but I read one more. Murderbot is a fascinating, much-loved character, but has lost its charm by this point. End of series for me. In 2021, I read The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections by Eva Jurczyk which releases 1/25/22. As a librarian, I was eager to read the mystery. The book has gotten some hype, but just didn’t do much for me. Good enough to finish. I may go ahead and review and then you can decide.
A good one to look forward to:
Under the Golden Sun by Jenny Ashcroft – this was my first and last review for Library Journal. The unique voice had me mesmerized. I really enjoyed this one! Look for this Pacific theatre WWII historical novel to be released in March this year.
Thanks for being with me through the last 6 years. I’m sure there will be a lot of great new books to talk about in 2022. I look forward to sharing some of them with you!
There are many who believe they know what happened, but they do not know the whole of it. The rumours spread, and grow, and take their hold, and so to end them I have been persuaded now to take my pen in hand and tell the story as it should be told…
Autumn, 1707. Old enemies from the Highlands to the Borders are finding common ground as they join to protest the new Union with England, the French are preparing to launch an invasion to carry the young exiled Jacobite king back to Scotland to reclaim his throne, and in Edinburgh the streets are filled with discontent and danger.
Queen Anne’s commissioners, seeking to calm the situation, have begun settling the losses and wages owed to those Scots who took part in the disastrous Darien expedition eight years earlier.
When Lily, the young widow of a Darien sailor, comes forward to collect her husband’s wages, her claim is challenged, and one of the men who’s assigned to examine her has only days to decide if she’s honest, or if his own feelings are making him blind to the truth, and if he’s being used as a pawn in an even more treacherous game.
A story of intrigue, adventure, endurance, romance…and the courage to hope.
Review of The Vanished Days
The Vanished Days is told through the narrator, Sergeant Adam Williamson, as he investigates the claim of Lily Aitcheson. The first person viewpoint tells the reader that Williamson is telling his personal tale. The third person perspective means that Williamson is telling someone else’s tale with details provided by the many witness he questioned. The effect is to create a dual storyline, a method often used by Susanna Kearsley, as her readers will be aware.
The book centers on Lily’s story: from her childhood with its happy, memorable moments to the days when it appears the world is against her. Lily perseveres through many trials using her own grit and sometimes getting help from friends and family. Ultimately, there are terrible men using their power over women. But there are also good men who will do what is right. The Vanished Days has a few characters to boo and curse at, but even more to hope for, weep for and cheer for.
There is a great deal of withholding of information by the narrator (or by the author). One of the characters, Robert Moray, said “All men do leave pieces out when they tell tales.” This is evident in the way the characters lives intersect in ways the reader does not imagine they will intersect. When the facts are revealed, the revelations are pleasantly surprising and may even bring tears of joy. If you have read Ms. Kearsley’s books, you are familiar with the path she likes to take.
Slains and Scottish are the two series names that now appear to be attached to this book. Whatever you call it, The Vanished Days is pure Kearsley storytelling magic. If you enjoyed The Winter Sea and/or The Firebird, I recommend you check out The Vanished Days.
Through NetGalley, the publisher provided a copy of this book so I could bring you my honest review.