ARC Review: Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood

Book Cover

Synopsis:

What the heart desires, the house destroys…

Andromeda is a debtera—an exorcist hired to cleanse households of the Evil Eye. When a handsome young heir named Magnus Rochester reaches out to hire her, Andromeda quickly realizes this is a job like no other, with horrifying manifestations at every turn, and that Magnus is hiding far more than she has been trained for. Death is the most likely outcome if she stays, but leaving Magnus to live out his curse alone isn’t an option. Evil may roam the castle’s halls, but so does a burning desire.

Kiersten White meets Tomi Adeyemi in this Ethiopian-inspired debut fantasy retelling of Jane Eyre.

My Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This was such an interesting story! It definitely captured the spirit of Jane Eyre but it did it while telling a wholly original horror story steeped in Ethiopian culture, food, dress, and custom.

The worldbuilding at first seemed limited by the claustrophobic setting of the story, but upon consideration the details present throughout made it incredibly thorough and transporting. I loved the harsh desert setting, the unnatural chill of the fantastically creepy house, the enigmatic Magnus, the magic of the debtera and Evil Eye.

Andromeda is practical and blunt, used to living with her difficult guardian and then on the streets. Magnus is spoiled and petulant and lazy, but also endearing and sweet. The mystery of the very creepy mansion had me enthralled.

The other characters faded into the background somewhat, but I greatly appreciated Jesper and Saba by the end.

The one thing I wasn’t convinced by was Andromeda and Magnus’ romance. It was abrupt and melodramatic, and I would have liked it to be more drawn out so they could settle more comfortably into their relationship. The ups and downs gave me whiplash and sometimes I felt like I had missed something while reading.

Overall, an excellent and immersive read that transported me fully to another place. Definitely recommend.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for providing an e-arc for review.

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