Author: Cherie Priest
Series: Borden Dispatches, #1
Released: September 2nd 2014
Publisher: Roc Trade
Length: 448 pages
Source: Publisher for review
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.
Most of us are at least vaguely familiar with the story of Lizzie Andrew Borden, a young woman accused of killing her father and her stepmother with an axe in 1892 and subsequently acquitted. The murders remain a mystery to this day – while Lizzie was released, no one else was ever accused and she remained the prime suspect, at least in the eyes of the community.
Despite being ostracized by her small community, Lizzie refused to leave Fall River, choosing instead to stay there in relative isolation for the rest of her long life, even after her older sister abandoned her. But why would she do that? And how was she acquitted in the first place when the evidence against her was overwhelming? What if there was something larger at play, something too horrible to even contemplate? What if poor Lizzie served as a guardian against some nameless evil set on destroying inhabitants of her small town?
"This evil cannot hide from me. No matter what guise it assumes, I will be waiting for it. With an axe."
The story is told mainly in first person, from Lizzie’s point of view, with other people’s diary entries, eyewitness accounts, personal correspondence and such inserted between chapters. The story couldn’t have been told as effectively by Lizzie alone. Although they might seem like a burden at first, other characters’ accounts quickly become a welcome addition, providing insight we would otherwise be denied.
Maplecroft is researched to the finest of details and extremely well crafted. Cherie Priest is a force to be reckoned with; she has been nominated for many literary awards in the past, including Hugo, Nebula and Locus. I’m sure Maplecroft will easily follow in those footsteps. After all, it is a brilliantly done Lovecraftian horror filled with monsters that provoke absolute dread. It truly is horror at its finest, one that is sure to withstand the test of time.
Those of you who are more squeamish should perhaps read a sample first, but true horror enthusiasts like myself have a lot to look forward to. Highly recommended.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.