Maplecroft by Cherie Priest
What is the real story behind Lizzie Borden and the murders she committed? Why did she stay in town? And is it over? This book answers those questions in a wonderful mash up of historical and horror fiction.
Publisher’s Description: 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.
Possible spoilers beyond this point.
Percy Procrastinator says…
Things I liked: I enjoyed the look at this historical event from a fresh perspective. I like the Cthulhu mythos and to wrap that into Lizze Borden’s story was a lot of fun. I like the character of Lizbeth and how she was fighting the horrors. I liked the dynamic with the sisters and how they worked well together on these missions.
The writing pulled me into the story, done as a series of journals. When a journal is dated a year earlier, I knew it was going to come back and was not disappointed in how it played out. I liked the descriptions of the transformations and how it affected those around it. The imagery fit well within the mythos.
Things I didn’t like: I didn’t like the Nancy subplot. It felt to me that Nancy was used to allow the author to answer the question of Lizbeth’s sexuality, as that is in question, and to explain why Emma moved out at the end, as happened in real life. I didn’t think that was needed and would have preferred the author go her own way rather than stick to historical events. It also slowed things down at times.
This is a solid four for me. A good story that came together well. A few minor tweaks could have pushed this up to a five but it entertained me.
Invested Ivana says…
Maplecroft is a spooky reimagining of Lizzy Borden’s history. This book picks up after the infamous murders, with Lizzy and Emma living in their new home, Maplecroft, and trying to get on with their lives. Through the events in the book, you come to understand the reason Lizzy murdered her parents in the first place.
I liked the historical context conveyed in this book, particularly Emma’s brilliance having to be hidden behind a man’s name and the way the town ostracizes Lizzy and Emma after the murders. The touches of Lovecraftian horror are fabulously done, conveying that wet, slimy, murky, invasive horror that I feel when reading Lovecraft.
Telling the story through letters and journals lends a very intimate feel to the book as well; the reader gets a good feel for everyone’s perspective, hearing it in their own words, and can see where those perspectives clash, especially between Lizzy and her sister, Emma. It also conveys the quiet desperation and oppression of self that I often associate with the Victorian era (late 1800s).
There are only two books of the Borden Dispatches, the second—Chapelwood—taking place many years later. I have previously reviewed Chapelwood on this site. I highly recommend both books and rate them each 4.5.