Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood #bookreview #YA #horror #fantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

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. 

It’s been quite a while since I read Jane Eyre, and I honestly don’t remember much about it. It was the mention of Andromeda being an exorcist that hooked my horror-loving heart and made me request this book.

I’m thrilled this story is set in Ethiopia and incorporates some of the traditional food and dress. It’s nice to find a YA book not set in the US or UK. Gothic overtones are apparent the minute Andi crosses the theshold of Magnus’s home, and she’s informed of the house rules almost immediately. The most important is to be in your locked bedroom by 10pm (that’s when the Waking begins) if you want to live to see the next day. Over the past three years, nearly a dozen debteras have tried and failed to cleanse the household, and it seems like Andi is the last hope. Homeless before this position, she’s determined to succeed and also gain Magnus’s patronage when the job is completed.

Andi is a no nonsense kind of gal who’s learned to survive the hardships of life. Sold by her parents at the age of five, she was taken in by a well-known debtera who probably had no business raising a child. But he taught her some valuable lessons. I didn’t know what to think of Magnus at first. He comes across as gruff, spoiled, and a tad clueless, but once the secrets of the house are revealed, his moods make sense. He’s also a scene stealer with some lines that are laugh out loud funny. It’s not hard to predict a romance between these two is on the horizon, but Andi’s mood swings from one sentence to the next during their conversations nearly gave me whiplash. Since I’m not much of a romance reader, that could just be me.

The magic system isn’t something I’ve come across before. Debtera create amulets from silver and other materials, each being unique to the manifestation. Amulets can both protect the exorcist and also drive away the Evil Eye and everything connected to it. The ghost in the library who throws books at intruders is my favorite – she probably just wanted to read undisturbed. I get it.

With no major twists or surprises, the ending is predictable, but that didn’t hinder me from enjoying this story. It’s an impressive debut novel, and I’ll absolutely keep tabs on this author and look for her future releases.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

20 thoughts on “Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood #bookreview #YA #horror #fantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

  1. I enjoyed this story quite a bit, too. The romance was obvious, but they usually are, so that didn’t bother me. I admit to struggling with the time period. Sometimes it felt modern; other times like it was set in the past. I think it was the combination of the foreign setting, the gothic feel, and the supernatural elements that kept me off balance. But I thought this was really good. The crafting of amulets to banish evil was new to me, as well. It was nice to see a fresh take on something.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The romance gave me whiplash too. 😆 I finally reconciled with it by deciding that the situation would cause people to bond quickly since they were just trying to survive through most of it. I agree with Staci too, that I couldn’t always tell the time period of the setting but I was so enamored with the story that I was willing to overlook that.
    I look forward to more books from this author ❤️ Excellent review!

    Liked by 2 people

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