My Rating: 4 stars
Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the ARC! This book comes out today, October 5th 2021!
Let’s just take a moment to appreciate this cover. Isn’t it gorgeously creepy? And The Death of Jane Lawrence delivers on all the cover promises. This book is strange, disturbing, and perfect for spooky season. When Jane Shoringfield marries Dr. Augustine Lawrence, it is supposed to be a business arrangement. They will live separately, she will keep the books and assist in the surgery, and she must never go to his family manor, Lindridge Hall. But when a storm leaves Jane stranded at the Hall on their wedding night, she begins to learn the dark past of both the house and her husband. Starling captures the Gothic atmosphere perfectly, employing hints of “Bluebeard,” Jane Eyre, Crimson Peak, and The Haunting of Hill House. The scary moments are appropriately terrifying, and I enjoyed every horrific moment.
Jane is an excellent main character. Starling does a great job building her personality and making her feel like a real, flawed person. She’s practical minded sometimes to a fault, exhibited by her proposing marriage as a business arrangement to Augustine. She finds comfort in numbers and spends her time balancing account books and reading mathematical treatises. I loved seeing her worldview change as she comes to terms with the horrors and magic she comes in contact with. What’s especially great is that she doesn’t just toss her math and practicality out the window. Rather, she uses it as a window into the seemingly impossible. Starling also handles Jane’s backstory well. We know the general facts early on, but she slowly reveals details to give us a full understanding of Jane as a character.
There are so many twists and turns in this book! Every time I thought I had something figured out, Starling threw another curveball. I was completely surprised (in a good way) with how things ended up. There are a few chapters toward the end that I found a little bit confusing, mainly just because there is so much happening. One in particular takes on a different style than the rest of the novel, and it just threw me for a loop. The book also gets off to a slow start, but it more than makes up for that with the fast-paced climax.
Overall, The Death of Jane Lawrence is a fantastic Gothic/horror novel with complex characters, stunning atmosphere, and delightful scares. It’s definitely one to pick up this Halloween season!