Title: Within These Wicked Walls
Author: Lauren Blackwood
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: October 19th, 2021 (Wednesday Books)
Synopsis: 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.
Thank you to the publisher, Wednesday Books, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Andromeda, a debtera who cleanses houses of the Evil Eye, is hired by wealthy heir Magnus Rochester. But she quickly realizes that this job is very different from others she has handled in the past. The castle is filled with dangerous Manifestations, and staying to complete the job almost certainly means death. But leaving, apart from giving up a chance to gain a patron, which Andromeda, as an unlicensed debtera, desperately needs, would also mean dooming Magnus to live with the curse for the rest of his life. The evil that has a hold over the castle will not be defeated easily, and each day Andi lingers there, the more danger she places herself in.
This is called a Jane Eyre retelling, but I honestly didn’t see any similarities other than the remote mansion and the last name Rochester. Nevertheless, the setting with a spooky twist made for an excellent backdrop to this story. The magical system was really interesting, especially how silver amulets were used to cleanse the Evil Eye and each type of manifestation required a special amulet. It would have been nice if the book had taken time to explain the system in more depth though, because we only got to know a few things that then kept repeating throughout the rest of the book. I would also have loved to see Andromeda cleansing a few more rooms of the house as it would have made it a bit clearer how the process actually works. The writing was excellent and the descriptive narration keeps this an engrossing read throughout.
Andromeda was a great central character – determined, tough, but also slow to trust because of the hard childhood she has had. Magnus on the other hand, was the snobby rich brat, somewhat depressed because of the curse forcing him to live out in the desert castle, but his wit and sarcasm make him a wonderful character. The banter between the two of them was one of the best parts of this book and it adds some humor to an otherwise very gothic feeling story.
This novel was an interesting blend of fantasy, horror and romance. The pacing was rather fast, which worked very well for the first two aspects, but not for the romance, which was entirely too rushed and insta-lovey. While Andi and Magnus were really cute, I felt like there wasn’t enough build up – so much so that the story would have been better without it.
While the ending did feel a bit rushed, this was quite good for a debut and I’m looking forward to reading more books by this author. The eerie mood of the story makes it a perfect fit for this season and I would definitely recommend it, especially if you’re looking for a fast paced and easy read.
Within These Wicked Walls releases on October 19th, 2021.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!