Fiction, Horror

Kayla reviews THE DEATH OF JANE LAWRENCE

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Summary from Goodreads:

Practical, unassuming Jane Shoringfield has done the calculations, and decided that the most secure path forward is this: a husband, in a marriage of convenience, who will allow her to remain independent and occupied with meaningful work. Her first choice, the dashing but reclusive doctor Augustine Lawrence, agrees to her proposal with only one condition: that she must never visit Lindridge Hall, his crumbling family manor outside of town. Yet on their wedding night, an accident strands her at his door in a pitch-black rainstorm, and she finds him changed. Gone is the bold, courageous surgeon, and in his place is a terrified, paranoid man—one who cannot tell reality from nightmare, and fears Jane is an apparition, come to haunt him.

By morning, Augustine is himself again, but Jane knows something is deeply wrong at Lindridge Hall, and with the man she has so hastily bound her safety to. Set in a dark-mirror version of post-war England, Starling crafts a new kind of gothic horror from the bones of the beloved canon. This Crimson Peak-inspired story assembles, then upends, every expectation set in place by Shirley Jackson and Rebecca, and will leave readers shaken, desperate to begin again as soon as they are finished.

My take:

This book is down to its core a work of true gothic horror, keeping its promises of the grotesque from its opening words and beyond. As such, I wanted to love it. However, as I neared the end, I found the pacing slogged, spending too much time unraveling the unique magic system of this world—the post Great War country of “Great Breltain.” 

Jane herself was a refreshing heroine, smart and logical to her core with a particular fascination with mathematics. Whereas I applaud the author’s attempts to use mathematics and philosophy to explain her world’s magic system, I often found myself bored and taken out of the story by such long exposition—even though it was given within dialogue. 

Overall, I did not hate this book. I think it will stand well on the shelf alongside MEXICAN GOTHIC and other such novels, and if you have a deep-rooted love for strong and smart female characters and Poe-style gothic romance, I think this exactly the book that will get you in the mood for Halloween. If you find yourself skipping over some of the more laborious details of the “spells,” well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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