Book: Maplecroft by Cherie Priest
Published September 2014 by ROC|435 pages
Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from a friend
Series: The Borden Dispatches #1
Genre: Adult Horror/Historical Fiction/Alternate History
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.
I read Maplecroft for book club, and I liked it! Maplecroft is definitely an odd book, but in a good way.
What really intrigued me about this book was how Lizzie Borden’s story was re-told. I like that it’s a supernatural version of what happened to her parents and that there was a reason why she killed them. It also really made me want to re-visit this episode from the History Chicks podcast. There is definitely a lot I don’t know about Lizzie Borden, and I’m curious about how much of what we see in the book about Lizzie and her sister Emma are real, and how much was fictionalized. I also wished I remembered more from the History Chicks episode about Borden.
It was interesting that no one really talked about what happened to her parents. It comes up, of course, but it’s not really talked about in depth. I understand why they’d want to leave it behind, but they also seemed too willing to pretend like it never happened. Maybe that’s because it happened several years after Lizzie’s dad and step-mom were murdered. I’m not sure if it’s assumed you know the basic story of Lizzie Borden. Which it might, and really, that’s all you need to know, because there is an alternate history feel to the book.
I will say that it wasn’t as creepy as I thought, and the supernatural element of the book wasn’t completely there for me. I know that Lovecraft comes up quite a bit with this book, and I wonder if my lack of familiarity with Lovecraft’s work is the reason why it didn’t work for me. It did feel like I was missing something in terms of the more supernatural elements- it wasn’t completely explained in the book, so either I missed it, or I really need to read Lovecraft and re-read this book. I did like the overall, something-is-not-quite-right-here feel of the book, and I am curious about how this will work out in the books to come. It stands up pretty well on its own, but I am curious about how the rest of the series will turn out. I’m not sure if I want to keep reading this series, at least right now, but somewhere down the line, I might pick them up.
I liked the story well enough, and I don’t think you need to be familiar with Lovecraft’s work in order to like (or even love) the book, but at the same time, I feel like I would have appreciated and liked the book more if I knew more about his work.
I thought the relationship between Nance and Lizzie was a little weak, and I think it could have been developed a little more. And there were a couple of times where I felt like it was there just to be there, and that it could have been anyone else. I wish we had a little more about their relationship, because I felt like it was just randomly there.
I’m not sure how I feel about the story being narrated by several people. I can’t see the story being told any other way, but at the same time, there was a disconnect for me with the different narratives.
3 stars. I liked it, and I liked how something wasn’t quite right. I liked the more supernatural take on Lizzie Borden, and I wish that the supernatural element of the book worked more for me.