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I Belong

Review: Maplecroft by Cherie Priest

maplecroftTitle: Maplecroft

Author: Cherie Priest

Genre: Horror

Series: The Borden Dispatches (Book #1)

Publication Date: September 2, 2014

Format: Paperback, 435 Pages

ISBN-10: 0451466977 (Penguin/Roc)

ISBN-13: 978-0451466976 (Penguin/Roc)

Reviewed by: Steph


Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks; and when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one….
The people of Fall River, Massachusetts, fear me. Perhaps rightfully so. I remain a suspect in the brutal deaths of my father and his second wife despite the verdict of innocence at my trial. With our inheritance, my sister, Emma, and I have taken up residence in Maplecroft, a mansion near the sea and far from gossip and scrutiny.

But it is not far enough from the affliction that possessed my parents. Their characters, their very souls, were consumed from within by something that left malevolent entities in their place. It originates from the ocean’s depths, plaguing the populace with tides of nightmares and madness.

This evil cannot hide from me. No matter what guise it assumes, I will be waiting for it. With an axe.

Quick & Dirty: Lizzie Borden may be guilty of killing her parents, but only she and her sister know why she did it. Despite a slow start, this ended up being a captivating and addictive read.

Opening Sentence: No one else is allowed in the cellar.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Everyone in the town of Fall River knows the story of Lizzie Borden, and everyone likes to think they know what actually happened. However, only Lizzie and her sister Emma know the real story, of how their father and stepmother began acting very strangely, and how the situation continued to escalate until Lizzie had no choice but to take matters (and an axe) into her own hands. Now, it’s two years later. Emma’s health is failing, and Lizzie has become obsessed with solving the mystery of what is going on in Fall River.

Dr. Owen Seabury saw Lizzie and Emma’s stepmother shortly before she was killed, and he could tell something was wrong. Because of that, he testified on Lizzie’s behalf at her trial, despite believing that she actually did commit the murders. Now, he’s been called to the house of a woman whose godson has also begun acting strangely. Upon further examination, Seabury notes that the godson’s behavior and appearance are exactly like that of Mrs. Borden. As more cases begin to pop up, Seabury realizes he must somehow get the Borden sisters to open up to him so they can work together to figure out this strange disease. Will the three of them be able to figure out what’s going on in this small town before it’s too late?

This book had been on my to-read list for a while before I found out I was going to get the chance to review it, so I was definitely excited when I found it waiting in my email. While there were some things that didn’t quite work, overall, this was quite an enjoyable and addictive read. You do have to get through the first 25 percent of the book before you hit the addictive part though. The first part is rather slow, as you’re being introduced to all the characters and getting used to the epistolary format – the story is told through the journal entries and letters of the characters. But once you hit the 25 percent mark and the action really gets started, the novel takes off. At that point, I had a very hard time putting the book down.

One other drawback is the epistolary format makes it hard to really connect to the characters. While you are still seeing the inner thoughts of the characters as you would in a “regular” book, there’s a distance that comes from reading about events that have already taken place. That distance remains throughout the story and I found myself not really liking anybody.

That all sounds really negative, but I can’t emphasize enough the addictive nature of this book. Despite the lack of connection to the characters, the overall story had me keenly interested. There’s an overall creepy atmosphere to the story – especially in Seabury’s parts as he examines patients – that just makes you want to find out more. If you’re a fan of alternate history, you owe it to yourself to give this one a try.

Notable Scene:

If someone had held me at gunpoint, I could not have explained why I was so reluctant to venture any farther onto the sand. I wriggled my toes inside my shoes, and the pebbles banked around the edges of the leather soles. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it, to venture any closer to the rushing, rumbling waves beyond the rocks.

Matthew only looked at me, or through me – past me, like he was looking hard at something just behind me. So effective was this gaze that I looked back to make sure I wasn’t blocking his view of something more interesting. But no. There was nothing behind me but the usual piers, shopfronts, passersby, and preening white gulls.

When I had finished double-checking and once I’d made myself certain that Matthew was, more or less, looking at me – I met his eyes again.

I shuddered. I took half a step’s retreat that almost sent me falling over the edge of the walkway planks, and I corrected myself in time to keep from harm. But I flailed. And when I had restored my body’s balance I clutched my coat more tightly across my chest. I released my hat, trusting it to remain affixed – or not caring if it abandoned me.

The young man was giving me that look, and it was a blinkless look that stared but saw nothing, and I’d seen it before. I knew that mindless set of the eyes and then, as the awkward moment stretched itself out long between us, I knew the cast of his skin. I thought of eggs, peeled and pickled in pondered the waterlogged flesh of the drowned.

And I remembered Abigail Borden.

The Borden Dispatches:

1. Maplecroft

2. Chapelwood


FTC Advisory: Penguin/Roc provided me with a copy of Maplecroft. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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