Cover Image: Within These Wicked Walls

Within These Wicked Walls

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Member Reviews

I enjoyed Within These Wicked Walls for the gothic vibes and mystery. I liked the little we got to see of the world of the book, the culture, and the magic system but I wanted more. My favorite part was the relationship between Andi and Jember. The way it developed over the course of the story felt earned and believable, especially when compared to Andi and Magnus. While I rooted for them, I felt that their relationship developed too quickly. Andi's feelings towards Magnus, while complicated because of their working together, changed too many times, almost in the same paragraph. And while I liked the ending I wanted a little more, I can't really imagine the characters' lives outside of the house.
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Thank you to St. Martin's Press and Netgalley for sending me a copy of this book! All opinions are my own!

If you're like me and you love spooky season but you hate being genuinely scared, this book might just be the perfect one to check out! It has just the right amount of spooky vibes without being overtly horror, and it makes you feel as though you're part of the spooky story.

My favorite part of this book was the immersion into Ethiopian culture and the way that it shares so much of the country even within such a short amount of time. It gives you such a new perspective on life and consumerism/materialism. The way that the culture and religion are woven into this story makes it even creepier because it's something that could seemingly happen to anyone in the modern world. Despite being fantasy, it feels as though it could be happening right next door, and that's the scariest part of all of it.

I do wish the romance hadn't been quite so rushed or forced. I ended up enjoying it toward the end, but Magnus was just so unlikeable to me at first that it felt like a weird pairing. But I did love the way that Andromeda grew through the book and how her own growth really wove throughout the growth of all the other characters. She was such a strong character despite all of the setbacks she had faced in life, and I loved being able to root for someone so fascinating.

If you're looking for a book that will diversify your shelves and give you some spooky season vibes, this is the book for you!
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This was a great read for the spooky season, but I was a little disappointed by the execution. 

The premise of Within These Wicked Walls was intriguing. A young woman is hired to cleanse a mansion of the Evil Eye. Without an official certification behind her, Andromeda draws on her survival skills and instincts to fight the demons she finds within. At the same time, she finds herself falling in love with the wealthy owner of the mansion.

Though advertised as an Ethiopian "remix" of Jane Eyre, it is a very loose adaptation of the story; there is a Mr. Rochester in a large, creepy mansion, a "plain", poor protagonist, and the basic arc of the plot is similar. But the main inspiration of the story is Ethiopian mythology. The way that Blackwood pulls from these myths to develop the evil happenings in the mansion was interesting and created a few creepy scenarios.

I wish the book had leaned less heavily into the love story between Andromeda and Rochester. At first, it worked alright for me but as the book went on, it became more frustrating. Rochester in particular became more irritating (he's weird in Jane Eyre too but not in the same ways). I think this, combined with the abrupt way the book wrapped up, left me feeling a bit disappointed with this book. 

Definitely a book to look into if you're a fan of Jane Eyre (like I am) and/or want a kind of creepy read. The audiobook, in particular, really brought this story to life!
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2.2 stars

DNF @ 40%

Unfortunately I REALLY struggled with this book. I wanted to like it so much because of the unique premise and the world. I did like the world, or at least the promise of it but I never got to like the book. I especially dislike the characters, especially Andromeda, especially her voice. And the audiobook did not help at all, it made me dislike her voice even more. Then the interactions, and therefore dialogues, were incredibly awkward especially with Magnus and because romance is a big element here it contribute to my not connecting to the story at all.
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Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review! All opinions contained within are my own.

I don’t talk about it a lot, but Jane Eyre is my favorite classic novel. I love the creepy vibes, the strained relationship between Jane and Mr. Rochester, and the little twists and turns throughout the tale. So, whenever I find a book that is pitched as a Jane Eyre retelling, I instantly want to read it! Add in the fact that it is Ethiopian-inspired and I knew I had to read Within These Wicked Walls.

In this book, we follow a young debtera named Andromeda. She has just taken on the job of exorcising the Evil Eye from a local mansion owned by one Magnus Rochester. Mr. Rochester is a mysterious young man who instantly intrigues Andromeda, but she knows better than to let herself get to close. As she sets to work, though, she learns two things. First, she finds herself inextricably drawn to Magnus. And second… she’s in way over her head.

It’s hard to describe how much I enjoyed this, but I’m certainly going to try! As far as Jane Eyre retellings go, this was *chef’s kiss* perfection. It had just enough of the original story to have me hooked, but was also enough of it’s own story to keep me interested. I loved the fantastical take that the story took, with the Evil Eye and the ghosts and the magic. It gave the story it’s own unique flavor that made it shine. It also made it close to impossible to put this book down!

My favorite aspect of the story has to be the characters. Andromeda is an incredible main character, with so much heart and life that she feels oh so real. She’s complex and damaged, but with a heart so wonderful that it’s impossible not to love her. But she’s not the only character that shines in the pages of this book. All of the characters, from Magnus to Jember, Andromeda’s old teacher, absolutely come to life on the page. Lauren Blackwood’s craft shines when it comes to the characters that she creates.

Beyond that, the story completely swept me away! I was instantly enthralled by every aspect, from the magic to the workings of the Rochester household. The world-building in this was expertly done, leaving me feeling satisfied and yet wanting more at the same time. The descriptions were vivid enough to make it easy to imagine the world that Blackwood created in the Rochester mansion and beyond. And I loved how the magic system was depicted. I will say that there were moments in the plot that dragged a wee bit in the middle, but, other than that, the plot was wonderfully paced. The worst part was when I arrived at the end because I just wanted more!

Overall, this was an incredibly well-crafted debut novel that had me completely enthralled! The world-building is immersive in a way that let’s you easily wrap yourself in this story. The characters are all beautifully complex and intriguing and absolutely come to life on the page. There are a couple of slower spots in the middle of the book but, overall, I was engaged and eager to keep reading for most of the book! After finishing this gem, I know I’ll be picking up whatever Lauren Blackwood writes next.
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Jane Eyre is my all-time favorite novel, and I thoroughly enjoyed this fresh take on the bones of the story. I look forward to sharing it in an upcoming episode of my Strong Sense of Place podcast about Ethiopia. Loved, loved, loved the dark humor and atmosphere — definitely deserves a place on the list of must-read modern Gothic.
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Full review to be posted soonish.

I would like to thank the publisher and netgalley for providing me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
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So, I never really got into this one. It's a great book.. it made Reese's YA book picks, so I know it's good. But I'm just not digging the YA vibe. I knew it was YA going into it, but I guess I'm just not a big reader of YA like I used to be. I will still recommend this book and our library has purchased a copy.
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This was an interesting book with a compilation of several elements that were quite a draw--the Jane Eyre vibes, some fantasy elements, and a POC main character. This book was featured by Once Upon a Book Club and I can see why they selected it for their YA box.
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Andromeda was such an interesting character, and I loved Magnus! The horrors from the house were so good and made me want to keep on reading. Can't lay my finger on what it was, but something felt like it was lacking, so 4/5 stars.
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My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️½⭐️ (3.5 stars)

Within These Wicked Walls tells the story of Andromeda, a young woman who goes by Andi. When the story begins, she is hoping that exorcising the Evil Eye for her wealthy and eccentric client, Magnus Rochester, will get her the recognition she requires to continue her work as a proper debtera; since her mentor threw her out before she could earn her license.

But cleansing the Evil Eye is a much bigger undertaking than Andi first anticipated. (So much so that many debtera have tried – and failed – before her.) And her growing feelings for the young heir complicate matters further. It will take all of Andi’s training – and maybe a little help from others – to accomplish this life-threatening task.

- 🏚 -

After hearing about the super interesting premise, I was definitely excited to pick up Within These Wicked Walls! The execution itself was not, unfortunately, all I was hoping it would be. But, it was still an enjoyable read!

I loved the gothic, Ethiopian-inspired fantasy and horror aspects of this story. The haunted mansion and ominous curse were well crafted and very spooky. In fact, I think the foreboding horror unraveling in the mansion was so well done that it outshone everything else. Where this story fell short for me was in regards to the rest of its world-building. Because so much of the plot takes place at the Rochester estate, the world outside of this setting felt like it didn’t reach its full potential.

Another element of this story that I enjoyed was Andi and Magnus’s characterization. They were both full, rounded characters with their own demons to overcome, literally. Their romance itself did feel a little rushed, and a bit like it came out of nowhere, but was nevertheless quite sweet. While I could appreciate the romance overall, I did feel like it just took up too much space in this story. There were a number of conflicts thrown in to prolong their discord that I couldn’t help feeling weren’t really necessary. It was clear they cared about each other and would end up together, and their squabbles felt surface-level at best.

The magic system and curse at the heart of this novel were so interesting! It felt like a missed opportunity to have the story focus more on the budding relationship than the intricate universe it was set within.

Thank you to the publisher, Wednesday Books/St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC of this book. All thoughts are my own.
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This book is visually stimulating as hell. The creepy house and changing rooms, oh man. This was a fun story and I even received a physical copy in a book box so that was nice. I think I'll try the audiobook in the future and see if that raises my rating.
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This book is amazing! I adored the way the history was told from the character's perspective. It's a unique. It realy has a beautiful writing. I can't wait to read more works of this author.
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This one started out so well. But as the story went on it just got boring.  The writing was meh and the I hated the characters.
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Andromeda is a debtera - someone who exorcises the Evil Eye from households.
She is looking for patronage after a disagreement with her mentor and finds herself working for Magnus Rochester. 
Andromeda soon realises that she may have bitten off more than she can chew but is determined to see the job through. Even if it means risking her heart and her life.

The concept for this book immediately intrigued me - an Ethiopian Jane Eyre retelling - and the cover certainly didn't hurt.
Andromeda was a likeable and relatable protagonist. She hadn't had the easiest upbringing, but was still an optimistic person, which I liked.
Magnus was a mixed character for me, as I liked him most of the time, but did find him to be a bit of a spoiled brat at times. I also felt that he was a bit 2D and could have done with some fleshing out.
Jember, Andromeda's mentor, was interesting and I enjoyed finding out more about him.
The setting of the house was interesting, and I liked the concepts of the amulets and different Manifestations. However, I would have liked a bit more world-building.
The romance was sweet at times, and I liked the banter, but it happened a little too quickly for my liking, but that's because I prefer slow burns.
The plot was interesting and held my attention throughout, but I did find myself becoming a little bored towards the end and wasn't as invested as I could have been.
The writing style was easy to follow, and I would definitely consider reading another book by the author.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read.
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was gifted this book in addition to the digital arc so it's special to me <3
loved reading this, it was spooky and chilly and i enjoyed it a lot. the romance was..not There all the time. honestly it felt a little red-flaggy and a little more insta-lovey but overall it was ok!

- thanks to netgalley and the publisher for providing me with the ARC in exchange for an early review.
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I enjoyed the Jane Eyre retelling element of this book. However, it was a little slow for me. Once it got going it was action-packed a joy to read.
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Within These Wicked Walls is a retelling of Jane Eyre. As a fan of the classic, I was eager to read this book. This novel seem to lack the charm of the original. I also did not like the fantasy aspects of the novel. Thus, this novel had potential but the author could not pull it off. Still, I recommend this for fans of Jane Eyre.
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I picked this because a friend recommended it, and because they said it was like a paranormal Jane Eyre retelling. They weren’t kidding. There are definitely some fantastical elements involved, and a very unique magic system. I enjoyed the book. I won’t say it’s one of my favorites, but it’s worth the read.
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I absolutely loved this book! I found it hard to put down. I highly recommend reading it! You won’t be disappointed.
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