A Mother’s Grief, an Unsolved Mystery and The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

A Mother’s Grief, an Unsolved Mystery and The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

I received this book for free from Publisher via SheReads for review consideration, opinions expressed are 100% my own. This post contains affiliate links as indicated by an asterisk. Purchases from these links provides a small commission to me at no extra cost to you.

The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young
Published by Putnam
Publication Date: Sept. 1, 2015
Pages: 416
Your Favorite Indie Bookstore* | Barnes & Noble* | Amazon Kindle* | Amazon Paperback*

Synopsis from Goodreads:

“From a unique new talent comes a fast-paced debut, introducing a heroine whose dark visions bring to light secrets that will heal or destroy those around her . . .

When New York journalist and recently bereaved mother Charlotte “Charlie” Cates begins to experience vivid dreams about children she’s sure that she’s lost her mind. Yet these are not the nightmares of a grieving parent, she soon realizes. They are messages and warnings that will help Charlie and the children she sees, if only she can make sense of them.

After a little boy in a boat appears in Charlie’s dreams asking for her help, Charlie finds herself entangled in a thirty-year-old missing-child case that has never ceased to haunt Louisiana’s prestigious Deveau family. Armed with an invitation to Evangeline, the family’s sprawling estate, Charlie heads south, where new friendships and an unlikely romance bring healing. But as she uncovers long-buried secrets of love, money, betrayal, and murder, the facts begin to implicate those she most wants to trust—and her visions reveal an evil closer than she could’ve imagined.A Southern Gothic mystery debut that combines literary suspense and romance with a mystical twist, The Gates of Evangeline is a story that readers of Gillian Flynn, Kate Atkinson, and Alice Sebold won’t be able to put down.”

My Thoughts:

She stands over me as I lay sleeping and whispers “Mommy” gently so as not to frighten me. She looks scared, the light from the hallway creating a halo around her long brown curls and angelic face. I reach out to comfort her and ask what’s wrong but I cannot touch her. I startle awake. I remember. I begin to cry.

Our only daughter and my grief from losing her are 16 years old. Yet I still have these vivid dreams of Maya, wanting to hold her or being pregnant with her. Just like my invisible illness, my grief is invisible too. And like the Rheumatoid Arthritis, I fight my grief all the time. Every time I see a little girl with long brown curls and tanned skin. Every time someone sees me with my 3 darling sons and asks “Don’t you want to try for a little girl?” When I go to the Disney Store and see beautiful dolls I know her dad and I would have bought her. I look at him, he looks at me and we know we are thinking the same thing. We want our Maya back but I will only see her in my dreams.

There aren’t many books I’ve read that have captured a mother’s grief over losing her child quite like The Gates of Evangeline has. Hester Young’s portrayal of Charlie Cates, a mother who lost her young son unexpectedly, is chillingly accurate. My heart went out to Charlie, I cried with her, was haunted by her “what if’s”, struggled with her to remember the last thing she said to her son the last time she saw him alive. 

Through Charlie’s grief, she sees children in her dreams. These kids are in trouble and need her help. Charlie thinks the only way to stop the dreams is to help these kids and crack a 30 year old unsolved mystery of the disappearance of 3 year old Gabriel Deveau. This is where the book gets creepy good and unputdownable.

Charlie is led through the gates of Evangeline, a mansion owned by the Deveau family in the middle of the swamps of Louisiana. The Deveau family is wealthy and eccentric and they all have secrets to hide. Do they really want the truth uncovered? The murky swamps provide the perfect setting for a disappearance, how can Charlie possibly get to the truth after all these years? 

I wish I could say more about the book but I don’t give spoilers. I really loved The Gates of Evangeline, a creepily spectacular debut novel by Hester Young and I look forward to the rest of the trilogy.


Other Bloggers’ Reviews:

Traveling with T’s review of The Gates of Evangeline

On D Bookshelf’s review of The Gates of Evangeline

The Perfectly Imperfect Homestead’s review of The Gates of Evangeline

Thanks to SheReads and Putnam for allowing to review this book. Be sure to check out SheReads Book Club for great selections, the March selection is Flight of Dreams* by Ariel Lawhon, author of The Wife, The Maid and The Mistress, a historical fiction set in 1930’s NYC that I really enjoyed.

What haunts you? What books set in the Southern U.S. have you enjoyed? What are your favorite recent thrillers or mysteries? You know me, I love to talk about books, drop me a comment anything bookish. Let’s talk! 


About Hester Young

From Goodreads: “Hester Young has lived in Boston, London, Tucson, Honolulu, and central New Jersey. A mother of two, she was a teacher for ten years before becoming a full-time writer. Her first novel, THE GATES OF EVANGELINE, was inspired by a family tragedy and a mysterious dream. Its sequel, THE SHIMMERING ROAD, will be released in January 2017.”


  1. I’ve never heard of this book so thanks for sharing. A lot of my blogger buddies are doing a year long book challenge. I’ll be sure to pass this one along to them.

  2. Ive had books touch my life and put things in order in my mind…I can’t even imagine how painful it was reading this book for you, (I’m so sorry….) I must say I am ver interested in reading this book based on your review though.

  3. Wow, I can’t imagine your pain. I am sorry for your loss. This book sounds very intense like I would want to spend the entire day reading it.

  4. I’m so saddened to read bout your loss. I can’t imagine what you went through and the emotions this book must have brought up. Thank you for being so open.

  5. I am so sorry for your loss. I have two daughters so your grief speaks to me. I truly don’t understand your exact emotions, but just think you are amazing in sharing so others can heal too. This book looks like a good read and the name Hester Young… perfect author name.

  6. Oh wow. I’m so sorry. It’s amazing how you are so open about everything and share your knowledge with everyone and how you’re now helping others who have gone through the same thing. Great post xx felinebykatsaris.com

  7. So sorry to hear about your loss. I can’t imagine what you went through and the emotions this book must have brought up. But I know it can be nice to read a book that is easier to relate to!

  8. Yikes, hit return too soon. I find books that hit so close to home are ones that I return to over and over. It’s like someone knows what you have experienced. My mother lost a child nearly 40 years ago and we still see the effects. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  9. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. Sometimes the best books are ones where we can fully immerse ourselves into the story because we relate so strongly with the main characters. Thanks for sharing about the book as well as your own personal story.

  10. Wow what a powerful review. It isn’t every day you can connect to a book like this with your own experience. And I am so sorry to hear about your loss, grief like that just doesn’t let go.

    1. Thank you Julie. I agree with you on the connections we develop with books. You never can tell how a book will impact you so deeply. Thank you for your kind words, some days are easier than others hiding the grief but it’s there lingering.

  11. Tanya, I don’t think I read this post correctly or I simply didn’t understand you were speaking of your own experience of losing a daughter. I just understood it today, reading the post from your kindred sister Tanya for Be Our Guest Friday. Both of you are generous for sharing the sometimes invisible pain of losses. I apologize for not seeing the words, but now I see them. And I do accept the connection to RA, since my own RA followed my father’s sudden death by a few months.

  12. So sorry about your Maya – I can’t imagine that is something a parent can ever tuck away in a corner where you don’t get consumed by it. Anyway, I don’t think I would be able to. This must have been terribly difficult to read but it sounds like you were able to connect with it and finding that connection is one of the things that makes reading so great.

    1. Thanks so much Lisa for your kind words. It’s hard to tuck away, I try hard to be strong. Besides my husband, I don’t think the rest of the family knows how much I still grieve for her. I agree, i think it’s the emotional connections we have with books that turn our reading experiences from good to great.

    1. Thanks Jennine, I bury my grief most of the time. I try to stay strong. This book brought it all back out for me, both the heartache and the joys of parenthood and loss. I love finding books that engage me on a deeper level and this was definitely one for me. Thanks for stopping by, lovely to hear from you!

  13. I don’t know if I knew about Maya, but I think I didn’t. I’m sorry, that is so sad 🙁
    So taking into account your own experience and your review saying the author captured the feelings of a lost like yours, I’m sure I’ll read it.

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