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Within These Wicked Walls

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Member Reviews

This is one of the rare books I will give a full 5 star rating. But how could I help it!?. It's perfect from the world building to the magic system that left me intrigued early on in my reading. .The romance blended into the story is lovely and effortless. This is a book that I plan on reading again and again!
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Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood
Publication date: October 19, 2021

Date read: October 29, 2021



Andromeda has trained her whole life to be a debtera - an exorcist hired to cleanse homes of the Evil Eye and its manifestations. Unlicensed, she is desperate for a patron to hire her and give her legitimate status, so she takes on the one job that no one wants, and that ten previous debtera have quit - Thorne Manor. There she meets Magnus Rochester, a young man who inherited the curse of the Evil Eye when his father died, and now lives in a home where the manifestations are so intense that no one is allowed out of their rooms after 10pm. While Andromeda attempts to break the curse, she also begins to fall for her employer. But she may be in over her head…

This is an Ethiopian-inspired fantasy retelling of Jane Eyre.

This book was wonderful. It was sweet, it was scary, and it had great world-building. The story is set more or less in the real world, but with in a real world where greed and jealousy will leave you cursed by the Evil Eye. I thought that the descriptions of the curse and the work of the debtera were really well done and fascinating to read - I found myself drawn into their world easily. 

I also loved the Jane Eyre connections. Aside from the obvious name similarities, certain scenes were recreated in a really fun way. (My favorite was the way this book retold the scene in Jane Eyre when Jane rescues Rochester from the fire in his bedroom. Both an excellent homage and also pretty creepy in this case.)

I thought that the characters were very well-written. Andromeda was a really fun character to follow - very serious and stoic, but she felt like she could have been a real person. All of her actions felt motivated by real emotions. I also really liked reading about her complicated relationship with her mentor, Jember. 

The horror in this book isn’t over the top or too gory, but it definitely packs an unsettling punch. From bleeding walls to violent spirits, there’s an ever-present creepy vibe to the story that was really enjoyable. If horror isn’t your thing, I don’t feel that this book would be too much, though. 

Recommended for anyone who likes a creepy ghost story (even though these aren’t really ghosts, it’s still the same vibe). It’s young adult, but really only because of the age of the protagonist is 19 - I’d still highly recommend this to adult readers. One of the most enjoyable books I’ve read this year. 

Note: I listened to the audiobook, which was wonderfully performed. Highly recommended. 

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced copy of the audiobook. 

Trigger warning: mentions of murder and attempted rape, physical abuse, blood, descriptions of drowning, violent death, trafficking, abandonment
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I loved the narrator and the writing was really good but I guess the genre isn’t my cup of tea? Descriptions were really rich so my mind had a vivid picture of the scenes but I wasn’t hooked on the story. I can see people who enjoy this type of book really loving it.
Thanks NetGalley for a copy in return for an honest review.
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Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 stars 

Narration: I loved the narrator! Their voice kept me interested and was great at distinguishing between characters talking.

Thanks to Netgalley and Macmillan Audio for the audiobook in exchange for my honest review.

No spoiler review 👇🏻

Do you like retellings? I usually do! When I saw this was a Jane Eyre retelling I knew I had to read this! As Jane Eyre is one of my favourite classic books.

Jane Eyre is already a gothic classic, how to make it more perfect for spooky season? Make the main female character someone who is trained in exorcism and cleansing the evil eye! With excellent romance elements between our main character Andromeda and Mr. Rochester.

This book is spooky, horror, dark fantasy with a cursed house and all the gothic vibes in an Ethiopian setting! It was very interesting with lots of twists and shocking scenes. Some parts were a little slow in the middle so 4 stars for me. Overall I recommend this book! It was a perfect read for Halloween season.
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This was such an enjoyable and engaging story.  The dark atmosphere was exactly what I was looking for when I picked this book up.  The Jane Eyre retelling aspect is rather loose, but I think that is clear from the synopsis.  I was immediately pulled into this story and the world of these dark manifestations.  So many reveals (especially with one character in particular) came as a surprise that was so well crafted.  I did not really care about the romance aspect of the book, but that is typical for me.  I highly recommend this book and look forward to what else this author does!!
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I absolutely loved this one and it was a perfect end of October read. It was perfectly atmospheric with characters I cared about and an ominous, spooky adversary. I also liked having a gothic manor set in the middle of the dessert instead of in a forest or on the top of a cliff - it was so different from others I've read and it made the setting stand out. I highly recommend this to anyone who likes atmospheric and gothic reads, especially to wrap up the spooky season!
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I love the premise of this book, but the execution unfortunately didn't work for me. I bounced off the writing style and alas couldn't really get on board with Magnus as a love interest. I think I'm very much in the minority, though, and it's probably just a taste mismatch. The narrator for the audiobook was great, though!
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Fantasy, romance, twisted fairytale, dark pasts, this book has it all! The narrator is great to listen to, the story line kept me interested, and the voice did not distort when I listened to it sped up. I very much enjoyed this and will be recommending it to many of my friends! This is a fantasy book that feels like it is a twisted fairytale, but one nobody has ever heard before! The characters are lovely, well-developed, have backstories that clearly shape them, and there is a lot of heartwarming scenes in this book as well as adventure, peril, and sadness. This book has everything!
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There have been a couple Jane Eyre retellings lately, but this one is a standout. Andromeda, a young debtera, is hired to exorcise Thornfield Hall of the curse that has haunted Magnus Rochester for the past three years. Set in an Ethiopian desert, this book has creepy thrills, romance, and even some unexpected mending of relationships. The narrator for the audiobook was great as well!
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What a perfect read for fall! A haunted cursed house, tragic pasts, and the romance made for an entertaining read. Andromeda is a un licensed debtera and in need of work to pay for food and shelter. She gets an offer no other debtera would dare accept. There she meets Magnus and is instantly drawn to him. She will need the help of friends, old and new, to save Magnus and the people the curse has been taking. 

It really kept my attention and I look forward to reading more from the author!! 

Thank you to the Publisher and NeGalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.
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When people say they are tired of retellings, I'm just going to throw this one in their faces to prove them wrong. Unique, fresh, and yet still recognizable—this is what a retelling should look like in the year of our lord 2021. 

As a debtera, Andromeda has been trained to exorcise houses of the Evil Eye. She no longer works with her cruel mentor, and without a licence she is in desperate need of a sponsorship to survive. But when she takes on the job at Thorne Manor for Magnus Rochester, she quickly realizes she's bitten off more than she can chew. The entire house is full to the brim with evil, the manifestations in each room stronger than she's ever seen. Andi has a lot of work ahead of her and too little time to prove to not only herself but to Mr. Rochester and her past mentor that she is capable of ridding this house of the curse. This is a rich story with incredible world building, a sweeping romance, and characters that will stick with you.

This was a fabulous retelling of Jane Eyre. I've only read the book once, but I've seen several adaptations, and this hit on a lot of the major key plot points while still taking a remarkably fresh stance with an Ethiopian inspiration. There's no mad wife in the attic, but Andi's difficult upbringing, her employment in the house, Magnus's attraction to her, and so much more all fit so well when transferred from Jane to this dark and magical desert world. The characters too, were excellent reimaginings. Andi is rather quiet, just trying to do her job, but she is also fierce and independent. She's not had much to rely on but herself, and it shows. And Magnus, well, he's a wealthy young man with a lot of bitterness and fear in his heart, but he has a soft spot for Andi almost immediately. 

I'm obsessed with the world building for this book! Blackwood has created something that is so fun to sink into for hours at a time. I was lucky enough to receive an early audio copy, and while I did zone out a few times, I was always able to come back and immediately pick up with what I missed. As a debtera, Andi has been trained to see the patterns in the air that will let her dispel a manifestation of the Evil Eye. Those patterns she then etches into silver medallions and hangs from a neck or the wall to keep the evil out. It's complex, intricate work, and one you can tell she takes pride in, even if it is challenging or she feels out of her depth. And the manifestations themselves were great! Hands reaching out of the floor, spirits throwing books in the library to communicate, rooms filling with blood. They're so spooky and dark. I loved it all, but I do wish we had gotten to see a little more of them. 

My only critique for this book was the romance, and this is purely out of personal preference. One thing that always struck me with Jane was that the relationship between Jane and Rochester didn't feel romantic. I always got such bad vibes from it because of how pushy and overly dramatic Rochester was, and unfortunately I found the same red flags transferred over to Andi and Magnus. Even though it is, at face-value, terribly sweet, I couldn't quite root for it. I didn't see much in Magnus that would entice me to want Andi with him, and it came across as a little icky for me.

Look, if Britney Spears and Reese Witherspoon are reading this book, then that means that you need to too. Also, if this doesn't hit the list next week I think I'll riot.
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I loved this audiobook and I loved this book. The narrator was perfect for this gothic read and this book was pretty terrifying! Andromeda is known as a debtera, an exorcist that cleans houses of the Evil Eye, and she takes on this job that people before her have quit because she needs the money after her adopted father/mentor kicks her out. So the owner of this house she goes to clean is this guy named Magnus who was technically cursed by his father, as the curse passes on to the next generation after death. So Andromeda gets stuck in this love triangle and basically stuck at this job until she realizes she's in way over her head. I think my favorite character is (of course) the librarian, but that's just me.
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I received an audiobook arc of this book to review and I absolutely adored every second of it. The narrator did the most amazing job with giving each character a unique voice. I was never lost on who was who or where we were in the story. It definitely made this fantastic book come alive all the more! I highly recommend the audiobook.

I’ve never fully read Jane Eyre so beyond the basics, I don’t know much about it so this despite this being a retelling, the story was completely new to me and I loved it! I’m sure I missed out on some key aspects of the original but I honestly do not mind because this just blew all my expectations to the wind in the best way.

This is full of dark magic, murder, intricate mysteries and magical elements. Along with the most angsty yet perfect maelstrom of a relationship. There are so many quotes between the main character and her love interest that I have now saved! Lauren Blackwood knows how to write a compelling romance!

This book had me feeling literally every emotion— anger, deep sadness, yearning and joy, hope and had me gripping the edge of seat during the action scenes. Within These Wicked Walls is a book I think everyone should both buy and read because the inside is just as stunning as the outside.

Yall need this book in your life, trust me!

4.5/5⭐️
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When picking up this book, I was immediately hooked by the premise of an Ethiopian Jane Eyre retelling, and while not strictly a faithful retelling, this high-action, high-stakes story exemplifies all of the gothicism and romance that hooked generations of readers into Bronte's story. Blackwood's characters are memorable and interesting. A was a story I couldn't put down.
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Excellent execution of an audiobook. Narrator did a fantastic job bringing Andi to life! I would definitely recommend taking in this story via audio format. Fantastic!

My full review for the story itself can be found below:

Andromeda, known as Andi, is a debtera; essentially, an exorcist hired to cleanse households of the Evil Eye. Raised by a man named Jember, who Andi considers to be her father, she was trained by one of the best. Jember is well known for his exceptional abilities as a debtera, but he's paid for them; left with chronic pain and disability after previous jobs.

Andi and Jember have a complicated relationship. No matter how much she seeks his love and acceptance, she never seems to get it. Thus, she finds herself at the cusp of adulthood on her own. She needs to start making her own way. When she gets offered a position to cleanse the mysterious Rochester household of a crippling case of the Evil Eye, she accepts.

The Rochester home is her first big commission on her own and obviously, she's anxious about it. It doesn't help that Andi quickly realizes this is a massive job; with horrifying manifestations around every corner. The master of the house, Magnus Rochester, is charming and endearing, but also a bit of a rascal. Andi feels an almost instant attraction to him. Frankly, it would be hard not to be. She vows to herself to do everything she possibly can to help him, even if it means putting her own life at risk.

Within These Wicked Walls is a debut Fantasy from author, Lauren Blackwood. Described as an Ethiopian-inspired retelling of Jane Eyre, this novel delivered exactly what I was hoping for.

I really enjoyed this story. The atmosphere was fantastic, dripping with danger and dark gothic vibes. Andi was an incredible main character to follow; I felt like I could really get behind her. Magnus, as well, was a delight to read. I wanted to help him as much as Andi did; he was in so much trouble when she came to him. The stakes were extremely high and time was of the essence.

Andi's life had not been easy. All the poor thing wanted was someone to love her; to feel like she belonged to someone, somewhere. It actually broke my heart a wee bit. In spite of everything, she had such a capacity to give love and I wanted that for her. With this being said, the relationship between Andi and Magnus does tread a bit into Instalove territory; so, if this is a problem for you, you've been forewarned.

I didn't mind it. I thought their banter was adorable and I was rooting for them. I did find some of the magic system, for example, how Andi was working her amulets in order to cleanse the Evil Eye, a little confusing. Also, there were moments when I felt the narrative dragged just a little, or scenes became repetitive.

For the most part, though, those tiny things really didn't hamper my enjoyment of the story. This is an absolutely excellent debut. It's compelling from the start and the narrative solidly delivers what the synopsis promised. I definitely recommend this one for your Spooky Season TBR!

Thank you so much to Wednesday Books and Macmillan Audio for providing me with copies to read and review. I cannot wait to read more from Lauren Blackwood in the future. Exceptional debut!!!
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Within These Wicked Walls is easily one of the best fantasies I’ve read recently. The fact that this is a debut is even more impressive, it was so well done!

Within These Wicked Walls is an Ethiopian-inspired horror retelling of Jane Eyre, which takes place in a mansion in the desert filled with the horrifying manifestations of the evil eye. Andromeda is a debtera, someone trained to create amulets to rid places like this one of their curses. But nothing could have prepared her for what she would find on her first solo job, especially when that job involves a man who is as irritating as he is adorable. It’s a race against the clock for Andromeda to finish cleansing the house, especially when more lives than she originally thought are in her hands. 

I can’t believe how impressed I am with this book. Within These Wicked Walls had me laughing out loud at some parts, on the edge of my seat at others, and even had me a crying mess at the end of it all. The author writes in such a way that the emotions on the page felt like my own, and it was a rollercoaster from start to finish. In terms of this being a retelling, I have not personally read Jane Eyre or seen any adaptations of it, so I can’t speak on how closely this follows the original story. But the romance in here was incredible! The chemistry between Andromeda and Magnus was palpable, it felt so real and believable. I was so desperately rooting for them. The rest of the characters were phenomenal as well, especially the parental figures. I love that the side characters felt just as important as the main characters, and that they got to have their own stories told as well. As an audiobook, I loved the choice of narrator! I think she did an excellent job with this book, and I found her voice to match the mood of the book perfectly. I also found this had just the right amount of horror to it as well. The atmosphere was delightfully eerie, and I loved all the creative ways the author described the manifestations, they were so creepy! It’s exactly what I wanted for this time of year, and I would definitely recommend it to others as a Halloween read!
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Content warning: body horror; gore; memories of child abuse; bullying

Don’t you just hate when the premise you’ve heard for a story doesn’t quite live up to the story that’s told? Well, I’m happy to report that this is solidly NOT the case for Lauren Blackwood’s debut novel, Within These Wicked Walls—a horror novel targeted towards the older end of the young adult audience. Billed as an Ethiopian-inspired fantasy retelling of Jane Eyre, this book lives up to the high bar set by its description.

Andromeda is a magic practitioner—a debtera, to be exact—who has trained extensively in crafting amulets of protection for various usage, including against powerful curses such as the one at the secluded Rochester mansion. Not quite a retelling, this mansion is located outside of an Ethiopian-inspired village rather than an English hamlet. Magnus Rochester is a twenty-two year old man of mixed heritage who not only inherited his English father’s exorbitant wealth, but his most relentless and deadly curse as well—the Evil Eye. Since the curse affects any household that he builds, Magnus has settled into a life limited to socializing with those who serve his home, his lawyer, and the lawyer’s sister. So when Andromeda enters his life, Magnus has all the bad habits of a rich guy who has only interacted with people paid to serve him in one manner or another. Andromeda pushes Magnus to examine this dynamic and how he manages the personnel issues among the staff, some of whom would like to see her status within the mansion taken down a peg. The real problem? Mansion staff has increasingly–and mysteriously—diminished so that by the time Andromeda takes on her role of ridding the mansion of its curse, there are only four members of staff left. 

As the story progresses and Andromeda learns more about the nature of the Rochester curse, she realizes that the myth behind the curse is a lot more sinister than it seems. She also finds that she is not completely equipped to face it alone and later has to seek assistance from the person who left her to such a dire situation, her adoptive father—who has Yondu from Guardians of the Galaxy, yet stoic, vibes. Her dedication to ridding the Rochester household from its curse is amplified when she and Magnus begin pining for each other, as their attraction suffers from more obstacles than you can find at a track competition: 1) the whole employer/employee thing 2) the whole poor/rich thing 3) the whole your-family-line-is-cursed-forevermore thing 4) no one in either of their lives wants them to be together. However, nothing is a greater barrier than Magnus’ lack of boundaries which veer on the edge of spoiled aloofness to discomfiting, especially, when we learn just how affected he is by the curse. The way that the creeping horror of the house escalates as the story reaches its first pivotal point—and we begin to unravel the secrets—is admirable and truly made me reconsider my stance on reading horror books (I may or may not have a fear of them invading my nightmares). 

If you have a stomach for light horror and gore, similar to what you may find in Nightmare Before Christmas or Cabin in the Woods and share a love for angst and mutual pining, then Within These Wicked Walls is definitely for you. It served me the perfect dose of mystery, romance, magical mayhem, and consistency in pacing and storytelling.
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A fantasy retelling of Jane-Eyre (and if you don't know that story, an unlikely love story) except here we have a strong black female lead character battling internal and external demons. Andromeda is a debtera—an exorcist hired to cleanse households of the Evil Eye. Beautifully written, and ultra creepy - perfect pub date!

This was also selected for Reece's book club YA pick for October!
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I thoroughly enjoyed this story from beginning to end. Andromeda was an interesting character and I was glad that we were able to get some of her back story, so that we could understand her choices a little better. I enjoyed the Jane Eyre referencing and found out recently that this is sort of a retelling. This book has inspired me to pick up Jane Eyre soon, as I have never read that one. The narrator was fantastic as well. I also enjoyed the descriptive scenarios in the house that really felt like a movie being played in my head. I'd love to see this as a series or movie. Well done to the author and I look forward to reading more of her work.
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This book was super unique! Andromeda is an unlicensed debtera desperate for jobs. She basically exorcises evil spirits out of houses. She is given a large job no one else wants or can do and realizes she may have bitten off more than she can chew.
While I did like the characters, none of them really stood out to me. Andromeda was a great female lead, she grew up in a church learning how to exorcise spirits with her mentor who never showed her any affection even though he was basically her father for all intents and purposes. This really shows through in the romance which was a romance I enjoyed. It didn't feel forced, it wasn't instantaneous, Andromeda really let her feelings be known, even when she was confused on what those feelings were. 
The plot really kept me engaged, I really didn't know if Andromeda was going to be able to cleanse this house or not and break the curse. It really had me guessing until the last minute. The atmosphere of being in the house was so fantastic and creepy. I really felt like I was in that house. 
I'm really glad I requested this one, it is perfect for spooky season!
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