Title: Within These Wicked Walls
Author: Lauren Blackwood
Genre: Gothic/Paranormal Fantasy
Audience: Young Adult
Narrators: Nneka Okoye
Length: 9 hours (336 pages)
Publisher: Wednesday Books; Macmillan Audio
Release Date: October 19, 2021
Source: eARC from publisher via Netgalley; audiobook from library
Recommended for fans of: classic Gothic novels
Content Warnings: death, violence, child abuse, physical and emotional abuse, suicidal thoughts
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.
Within These Wicked Walls is described as an Ethiopian-inspired retelling of Jane Eyre. Andromeda is a debtera desperate to prove her skills at exorcising the Evil Eye, but she finds a more sinister challenge than she bargained for when she agrees to cleanse Magnus Rochester’s manor. The magic system, inspired by Ethiopian practices and folklore, was fascinating, and the desert is such a unique setting for a gothic tale. However, while the book has a creepy gothic atmosphere (including some downright chilling, gory scenes) and the story clearly takes some inspiration from Jane Eyre, the story didn’t live up to my expectations for a retelling.
This book is full of strong characters with complicated pasts. The strongest moments of the story explored Andromeda’s relationship with her father figure Jember, as well as Saba. However, The central romance was disappointing. I didn’t particularly like Magnus as a character, and I didn’t understand what Andromeda saw in him, although they did have some entertaining banter and emotional moments.
I just think this book could’ve used a little bit more. At only 336 pages, this fantasy could’ve used a bit more development of the world, romance, and side characters to be a truly effective standalone. However, the writing was very good, and I would pick up future books by this author.
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the advance review copy.