Wednesday, July 31, 2013

BLOG TOUR: The Widows of Braxton County by Jess McConkey

Title: The Widows of Braxton County
Author: Jess Mcconkey
Genre: Adult Mystery Fiction
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: July 23/2013
Adquired: Print copy provided by publisher
Goodreads: ADD

Family secrets can bind and destroy.

Kate is ready to put her nomadic, city-dwelling past behind her when she marries Joe Krause and moves with him to the Iowa farm that has been in his family for more than 140 years. But life on the farm isn't quite as idyllic as she'd hoped. It's filled with chores, judgmental neighbors, and her mother-in-law, who—unbeknownst to Kate until after the wedding—will be living with them.

As Kate struggles to find her place in the small farming community, she begins to realize that her husband and his family are not who she thought they were. According to town gossip, the Krause family harbors a long-kept secret about a mysterious death that haunts Kate as a dangerous, unexplainable chain of events begins.


I feel like I'm never in the mood for something eerily mysterious until I'm reading something eerie, and mysterious. I couldn't flip the pages of The Widows of Braxton County fast enough. The first chapter of this book was perfection in tone, it placed me in the exact time period, and tragic feel, that it was going for. Alternating time periods are always a win in my book, and the execution of that style was done with knowledge and care.

1890: Hannah Krause has just bared witness to her husbands murdered body, the killer is unknown, but many fingers are pointing her way. A victim of domestic abuse for many years, Hannah can't seem to break free of her chains, but can only pray that her son Willie will grow to see brighter days.

2012: Kate arrives at Braxton County, and settles in the exact house that Hannah Krause lived and suffered in. Her new husband, Joe, had been, up until that point, the picture of care and understanding. After a few days in their new home, and with the added surprise of her live-in mother-in-law, she begins to see this facade fade, and another, more menacing side of her husband emerges.

The merging of these two moments in time was a nail biting experience. There was a constant stream of questions running through my mind: How are all of these families connected? How is Kate connected? What are those shadows, what are those sounds...could it be...!? The paranormal aspect in The Widows of Braxton County was minimal, but enough to keep you wondering if the past refused to leave the present. There were movements caught in the corners of eyes, shadows lingering, then quickly vanishing, sounds that could only have been made by sights unseen. A great mystery, in the sense that you kept changing your mind about who could have done it. Every character had a distinct voice, though, I was slightly confused at times. Many characters had the same name passed down through generations, so it would have helped if "Jr's" and "Sr's" were added for reference.

The story line played out quickly, and with a satisfying flow. I found myself immersed in the settings of the small town of Braxton County, with all of it's secrets, and tension, and family feuding. Kate became a stronger female lead towards the end, but played the role of broken and naive wife a little too well in the first 3 quarters of the book. I wanted to reach in and shake some good sense into her. I grew more fond of the town's residence instead, Rose and Doris were a constant light for Kate's darkness, and I fought the urge to skip pages to find their dialogues-all the juicy gossip was courtesy of them.

This was a great summer read, especially for those who love their mysteries fast-paced and slightly spooky!

Recommended for Fans of: Mystery, historical fiction, eerie settings.


Jess McConkey is the alter ego of author Shirley Damsgaard. Not only do the two look remarkably alike, but they share many of the same interests — family, friends, gardening, and of course, writing. However, Jess’ debut novel, LOVE LIES BLEEDING, is different from Shirley’s Ophelia and Abby Mystery Series. (“Hence the pen name, folks!” — S.D.)

Atmospheric…character driven her editor described it as ” a southern gothic only it doesn’t take place in the South.” (The setting is the lakes of Minnesota — a favorite place of both Jess and Shirley.)

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Thank-you to Trish from TLC Book Tours for hosting this tour, and to William Morrow for sending me a print copy to review!
CLICK HERE to follow the rest of the tour


  1. Oooooooo....I have this to read. I may have to move it up higher in the stack. :)

    It sounds so good. THANKS for this great review.

    Silver's Reviews
    My Blog

  2. "slightly spooky" is something I enjoy a great deal so I'll definitely be checking this one out.

    Thanks for being on the tour.

  3. Oh man, I love the slightly creepy factor without being really supernatural. I have a feeling I wouldn't want to be reading this one at night!

    As Heather said, thanks for being on the tour!


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