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Eva Newcastle
Haunting Patagonia

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

There would be no formal goodbye between Leo and I but rather a conveyed look of longing, reminiscent of some bygone era. He gave a gentle squeeze to my fingers before releasing them and disappearing down a museum corridor, a gentle touch as if to convey one parting word — remember.

We had one chance left — one chance granted right a tragic wrong. 


Newcastle debuts with an omen-filled, generational mystery infused with romance and a touch of magical realism. Angeni Braum, having dissolved her residential development business, settles for an administrative job at a Chicago museum. While working with a paleontology team that’s delivering a new sauropod acquisition, Angeni is intrigued by her surprisingly personal connection with Dr. Leonardo Díaz, the expedition’s leader. That connection, coupled with Angeni’s noticing a sudden crop of references to Argentina in her life, eventually leads to her taking a business trip to Patagonia. Meanwhile, in a parallel story line set in the past, the original turn-of-the-century dinosaur expedition hints at an alluring link to Leo and Angeni today.

The concept is lovely—a romance that echoes through time in the clues that the lovers leave for their descendants—and Newcastle plants enticing hints for readers to discover, such as the handwritten botanical journal that Angeni picks up in an opening scene. The writing is evocative: “The juicy-colored hibiscus flower beyond my hotel room window was rolled tight in its nocturnal state, the shrub's bloom scraping the window screen.” But Angeni’s naiveté (she fails to learn even rudimentary Spanish and exhibits little interest in understanding cultural nuances) cuts against characterization of her as a curious spirit. Similarly, Angeni’s vague memories of her dysfunctional upbringing effectively cloak connections to her past to build mystery, but they also flatten her character.

Newcastle is most successful with the storytelling on the historical side of the narrative, as the secret love story of Orlando and Angeline evokes a satisfying sense of destiny. In the present, Angeni and Leo’s efforts to decipher the mysteries of the past lag behind readers’ certainty about where the story is going. Still, Haunting Patagonia will hit a sweet spot for readers who enjoy grand historical romances, plots that boast a supernatural undercurrent, and mysteries with easy to follow clues.

Takeaway: An appealing parallel romance haunts this novel of love, history, and portents.

Great for fans of: Ernest Dempsey’s Sean Wyatt series, Isabel Allende’s A Long Petal of the Sea.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: B