Title: Within These Wicked Walls
Author: Lauren Blackwood
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Content/Trigger Warnings: For a list of potential content and trigger warnings, check out this book’s page on BookTriggerWarnings.com
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.
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review! All opinions contained within are my own.
I don’t talk about it a lot, but Jane Eyre is my favorite classic novel. I love the creepy vibes, the strained relationship between Jane and Mr. Rochester, and the little twists and turns throughout the tale. So, whenever I find a book that is pitched as a Jane Eyre retelling, I instantly want to read it! Add in the fact that it is Ethiopian-inspired and I knew I had to read Within These Wicked Walls.
In this book, we follow a young debtera named Andromeda. She has just taken on the job of exorcising the Evil Eye from a local mansion owned by one Magnus Rochester. Mr. Rochester is a mysterious young man who instantly intrigues Andromeda, but she knows better than to let herself get to close. As she sets to work, though, she learns two things. First, she finds herself inextricably drawn to Magnus. And second… she’s in way over her head.
It’s hard to describe how much I enjoyed this, but I’m certainly going to try! As far as Jane Eyre retellings go, this was *chef’s kiss* perfection. It had just enough of the original story to have me hooked, but was also enough of it’s own story to keep me interested. I loved the fantastical take that the story took, with the Evil Eye and the ghosts and the magic. It gave the story it’s own unique flavor that made it shine. It also made it close to impossible to put this book down!
My favorite aspect of the story has to be the characters. Andromeda is an incredible main character, with so much heart and life that she feels oh so real. She’s complex and damaged, but with a heart so wonderful that it’s impossible not to love her. But she’s not the only character that shines in the pages of this book. All of the characters, from Magnus to Jember, Andromeda’s old teacher, absolutely come to life on the page. Lauren Blackwood’s craft shines when it comes to the characters that she creates.
Beyond that, the story completely swept me away! I was instantly enthralled by every aspect, from the magic to the workings of the Rochester household. The world-building in this was expertly done, leaving me feeling satisfied and yet wanting more at the same time. The descriptions were vivid enough to make it easy to imagine the world that Blackwood created in the Rochester mansion and beyond. And I loved how the magic system was depicted. I will say that there were moments in the plot that dragged a wee bit in the middle, but, other than that, the plot was wonderfully paced. The worst part was when I arrived at the end because I just wanted more!
Overall, this was an incredibly well-crafted debut novel that had me completely enthralled! The world-building is immersive in a way that let’s you easily wrap yourself in this story. The characters are all beautifully complex and intriguing and absolutely come to life on the page. There are a couple of slower spots in the middle of the book but, overall, I was engaged and eager to keep reading for most of the book! After finishing this gem, I know I’ll be picking up whatever Lauren Blackwood writes next.