Author: Lauren Blackwood
What the heart desires, the house destroys…
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.
Kiersten White meets Tomi Adeyemi in this Ethiopian-inspired debut fantasy retelling of Jane Eyre.
Within These Wicked Walls first intrigued me as I was very curious how the author would create a retelling of Jane Eyre. When I won this novel in a Goodreads giveaway, I was even more excited to try out this author’s debut. Not only was the story a satisfying read, but also is being published at the perfect time of year given the haunting setting that’s perfect for autumn and Halloween. For me, this novel borders more on a reimagining than a retelling, but I could see why it could be marketed this way.
The story centers around 19-years-old Andromeda, a debtera (exorcist). After years of living in a home with her master Jember, where she was never shown any affection for years, she leaves. In order to earn money, she takes a job to cleanse the home of Magnus Rochester, from the Evil Eye. With many debteras failing, and dying in the process, this mission will not be easy. She meets 21-years-old, Magnus, who is charismatic and pretentious. The evil within the walls of the castle/mansion are a lot more than Andromeda expected and she fears that she might not succeed. She enlists the assistance of Magnus and hopes that the two of them can figure out a way to cleanse the evil.
The dangers in this novel were all well done as it haunting and the stakes are high with both of the characters’ lives on the line. Andromeda was a great main character as she is trying to prove herself while seeking connection to others. Magnus was a witty and sarcastic character that added some nice bits of humor to the story, especially when he bantered with Andromeda. While I enjoyed the two characters together and felt they work well as love interests, their relationship was a little too instalovey for my preferences. For me, I prefer a little more build-up, but, again, I did enjoy the two characters and the connection they shared.
Overall, the world building was well written as it is slowly introduced and pieced together throughout the chapters. At first, it is not always clear about the setting, but it all came together in the end. The eerie horror feeling throughout the novel was fantastic with manifestations and events to set the tone for the evil that lurks around every corner. The story was a great mix of a horror story with romance. For a debut novel, it was very well done and I am excited to try out more from the author in the future!