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Book Review : Paula Brackston's The Haunting of Hecate Cavendish

Paula Brackston's The Haunting of Hecate Cavendish is a historical mystery with glimmers of magic and the paranormal—set in a library. Where secrets are held in books, and locks and keys must be had to get to secrets, it’s hard not to capture my attention. Add a romance line and I’m all in. As a fan of Brackston’s other books, The Haunting of Hecate has the lush prose and the slower pace I expected but as the mystery unfolds the lights dim and the pace quickens, I’m caught up the intrigue and the pages turn faster. The prose has an old-world feel which lends itself well to the period.

Cover for The Haunting of Hecate Cavendish by Paula Brackston

What’s special about this book is Hecate, the main character, who acts with a delightful blend of moxie and propriety while allowing her curiosity to lead her. At times, I was recalling the BBC series Miss Scarlet, with a strong female-lead in Victorian times, who manages to retain her lady-status while standing toe-to-toe with the police investigators. Hecate also has an unusual upbringing in her archaeologist father, lending her a rich background to draw from. He is a great (and unusual during this period) support character (and father) lending her the materials for success and giving her confidence when required. Hecate’s uniqueness in other ways, revealed later in the story, make her even more dimensional and evolving.

No spoilers here but the paranormal element is two-fold in the sinister forces and the benevolent ones which include mythical creatures (one of which is now close to my heart). By unraveling the mystery Hecate learns about her unique situation which and that frames and evolves into an exceedingly intriguing character which I’m happy to follow into the next book. Coming July 2024.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing an Advance Reader’s Copy for an honest review.


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