Hawthorne was apparently ashamed of this debut effort, and it’s certainly not his best work. It is a readable short novel, but in no way outstanding. It’s an attempt at a mysterious romance, but it gives the impression that Hawthorne simply threw together many stock elements without troubling to put much of a plot around them. Much of the story simply doesn’t make much sense. One knows that because of the type of story it is, such and such should happen, so it’s not hard to follow, but within the story itself, there’s remarkably little support for it all.
This is not the place to start with Hawthorne. In fact, unless you’re a serious Hawthorne completist, it’s not really worth reading.