A Change of Fortune Mystery #1
by Jessica Estevao
Published on September 6, 2016 by Berkley Books
Genres: Adult, Historical, Mystery, Paranormal
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First in a dazzling new historical mystery series featuring Ruby Proulx, a psychic with a questionable past who suddenly finds her future most uncertain...
Canada, 1898. The only life Ruby Proulx has ever known is that of a nomad, traveling across the country with her snake-oil salesman father. She dreams of taking root somewhere, someday, but, until she can, she makes her way by reading tarot cards. Yet she never imagined her own life would take such a turn...
After one of her father’s medical “miracles” goes deadly wrong, Ruby evades authorities by hiding in the seaside resort town of Old Orchard, Maine, where her estranged Aunt Honoria owns the Hotel Belden, a unique residence that caters to Spiritualists—a place where Ruby should be safe as long as she can keep her dark secret hidden.
But Ruby’s plan begins to crumble after a psychic investigator checks into the hotel and senses Ruby is hiding more than she’s letting on. Now Ruby must do what she can to escape both his attention and Aunt Honoria’s insistence that she has a true gift, before she loses her precious new home and family forever...
We’re off to Canada (at least to start) in this historical mystery filled with murder and the spiritual — we’re talking mediums here, people. Connecting with souls on the other side, reading fortunes, this world is hopping with all sorts of energies. Ruby Proulx is in the middle of it all with an unusual gift, a sleazy father, and a mysterious aunt she flees to in Old Orchard, Maine.
Whispers Beyond the Veil is most definitely a mystery with a paranormal twist. I think the initial build into the story started rushed. While in Canada, something quite terrible happens to push Ruby toward her aunt but this is all glossed over in the matter of a chapter and not addressed again until much later in the book. Though it isn’t the primary focus of the plot, that turning point feels like something that will come up again, perhaps in a sequel, so I wanted a bit more attention on those scenes to start.
The actual mystery of the book is great! I struggled to pinpoint the culprit (which I take as a good sign) until closer to the end, where the mystery lost its gloss. Much like the very beginning, the final reveal flew by giving off a lackluster vibe for how little focus it actually received. And considering how drawn out the rest of the book was, the rushing at beginning and end was jolting.
I also found that we’re thrown a lot of details and I’m not sure if those were intentional red herrings or just world-building that the author wanted to share despite a lack of connection or need.
Ruby was a likeable enough character, a woman with a backbone and a talent for cons. But I missed her two most interesting details. For starters, everything that happens in Canada before her arrival in Maine? Yeah that’s pretty damn interesting and as I’ve mentioned, there wasn’t enough of it! And then there are her mysterious powers that aren’t explained until near the very end (are you sensing a pattern yet?) so I just went with it until then because what else can you do? She’s a strong character who needs filled in a bit.
And her father…I need to know more. About her whole family, actually. There’s a lot more there than we’re told and I’m curious!
Also, there’s this set-up for a romance in a future book between Officer Yancey and Ruby? Like, okay, that’s cool, but it wasn’t relevant to this book…so why not just build a friendship to start?
This book left me with a lot more questions than not, and most are still unanswered. That being said, I did enjoy Whispers Beyond the Veil (despite whatever impression you’ve gathered so far) and I would definitely read a sequel if for no other reason than I want those questions answered! I can see this series expanding in a sequel with all the threads Estevao brought in this time around so I’ll be interested to see which direction the story turns next.