Within These Wicked Walls

Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood is a Jane Eyre-inspired horror with Ethiopian aspects woven in. Andromeda is an exorcist hired to cleanse homes, and she’s taking on her hardest job yet.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

All quotes are from an advanced reader copy, and may or may not reflect the published edition.

From Goodreads:

What the heart desires, the house destroys…

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

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.

“God is merciful. Unlike you.”

This was a fast-paced, creepy book that I enjoyed quite a lot. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a Jane Eyre retelling, as the only common denominator was a creepy house and a rich man. However, it was fantastically written and the elements of the world within were well incorporated. I loved our characters and found them fun to read despite the circumstances they were in. There is a healthy level of resolution to this tale, that left me feeling satisfied and pleased. This really was a fantastic book, and I am very glad I got to read it.

“This kiss wasn’t like the last one. It was certain and sweet…it felt like a promise. Not a promise of pain. A promise to look after my heart. To maybe – someday — even love me. A promise to not throw me away.”

The thing with this book that harms it, for me, was the insta-love. The worst part of that is that Magnus and Andromeda have amazing chemistry. Their romance just felt like it happened all a sudden after some witty banter. The physical chemistry is almost non-existence, and it felt like it came completely out of the blue. I expected Andromeda to react more strongly and negatively towards this based on how she was raised, but that wasn’t the case. It almost felt out of character for her to fall into it with Magnus so quickly. I adored their banter and thought they would make a wonderful couple, had the build-up made more sense to me. Or rather, had the build-up existed at all.

“I get the feeling you were never hugged as a child.”

The romance issue alone affected the reading for me. This took a star away, despite how much I wanted to love the book. If insta-love is your thing, you may really and truly enjoy this. However, it’s not something I’ve ever enjoyed, and in this book, it is particularly unbelievable. All in all, the world-building and character development were all wonderfully done. The plot was unique, and the magic something I had never heard of before. This was very enjoyable!

“I think…I could’ve survived on that laugh alone, if surviving in this world didn’t require money.”

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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