Cover Image: Within These Wicked Walls

Within These Wicked Walls

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Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood is a dazzling remix of Jane Eyre with dark spirits, magic, and romance. The story follows Andromeda, who is a Debtera; someone trained in the art or cleansing dark spirits. She has been summoned to the residence of handsome Magnus Rochester, a wealthy heir to a vast chocolate fortune. He has been cursed with the Evil Eye, and household members mysteriously vanish frequently and the house itself is dark and cold despite being located in an Ethiopian dessert. She quickly is exposed to horrifying manifestations and violence. I found the characters and plot intriguing and wanted to know what would happen. Nneka Okoye expertly narrates the audiobook. The tone and cadence of her voice was enchanting and immediately drew me in. The novel is wonderfully written and I really enjoyed this one. 

Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press – Wednesday Books / Macmillan Audio for providing this ebook and audiobook ARC.
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4 1/2 stars...

I really enjoyed this book.  It gave an entirely new feeling to the haunted house genre.  I guess in this instance, it's more than just the house that's haunted.  There's so much more to be dealt with than our main character, Andromeda initially anticipates.  To complicate things, Magnus, the owner of the home who is cursed also seems to have feelings for Andi.

Within These Wicked Walls definitely doesn't pull any punches. It's a brutally violent horror tale.  Fortunately, it does blend in a several romantic storylines for good balance.  It's marketed as a Jane Eyre retelling.  That part is a bit of a stretch for me.  Yet, I was a completely engrossed in this book and found it to be an absolute page turner.  It was a well-done gothic romance with elements of the supernatural that would make even the toughest reader tremble.  Lauren Blackwood wrote a creative novel with a flair for detail.  There was wit, heartbreak, fear, hope, friendship, love and romance.  It was a true gem.

Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC.  I voluntarily chose to review it and the opinions contained within are my own.

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW:  I also had the privilege of listening to and reviewing the audiobook.  It was outstanding.  The narration lent itself to the storyline and really enriched the novel. I enjoyed everything about it.  In particular, the narrator's accent gave more authenticity to the story.  I highly recommend the audio version. (5 stars)
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I grabbed this because I liked the cover. I didn't realize I was getting Jane Eyre, but in Africa and with a magic curse instead of a hidden wife in the attic. Dude, I am so happy with what I got. The story is so well done. Just fun and well paced, with incredibly interesting characters. I love when an author can actually make a loner of a protagonist interesting and empathetic, and Andromeda is! She's a loner, but for actual reasons, and the love story is just enough of a slow burn without will they/won't they nonsense. Honestly, the main issue I have is that Andy could have done so much better than Magnus.
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Thank you to NetGalley, Wednesday Books, St. Martin's Press, Macmillan Audio, Nneka Okoye (narrator), and Lauren Blackwood for the opportunity to read and listen to the audiobook of Within These Wicked Walls in exchange for an honest review.

The very start of this book has Jane Eyre vibes, though I found this retelling was far more intriguing than the Bronte novel, and I finished this book in nearly a day. The narrator, Nneka Okoye, has the perfect voice and accent for the vibes of this book, and I love the spookier aspect of what is going on in this novel.

Andromeda is living on the streets after being kicked out by her mentor. She was working on her liscense to be a debtera, though did not finish before ending up homeless, but she is still offered a job. A debtera, in Ethiopian culture, is a clergy or religious figure who performs exorcisms. Andromeda needs that job more than anything, so despite not having a liscence, she takes it.

Upon arrival to a vast castle, Andromeda learns there were at least eleven debtera before her who failed to remove the curse of the Evil Eye from the castle, or rather, the man within the castle who has been cursed: Magnus Rochester, the last name mimicking that of the male lead in Jane Eyre. Andromeda soon learns this particular Evil Eye might be more than she anticipated. Even all the talismans she has made in preperation might not work.

Magnus, the rich heir seeking help to remove the curse from the Evil Eye, is rude and demanding of his new hire. If Andromeda is to remain hired..and stay alive, there are a number of rules she must follow in Magnus' domain. When this Evil Eye portrays actual manifestations, Andromeda finds she might be in over her head. How are these so sinister and how are they linked to Magnus? What has he done to be so awfully cursed? Andromeda even notices something a bit off about the household staff. Everything about the situation is beyond abnormal, even for an exorcism. Despite his curse and his manner, Adnromeda can't abandon Magnus like the previous debteras who gave up on the job. Not when her feelings start to intervene!

A great novel full of exciting moments, tension, and romance. I loved looking for comparisons to Jane Eyre while also learning about Ethiopian culture. This is a fast-paced book full of tension and romance, and I also love the fact that it is stand-alone with a rounded ending leaving the reader/listener satisfied. Highly recommend for young adult readers looking for something familiar, yet fresh and different at the same time.
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Advanced Reader’s Copy provided by NetGalley, Macmillan Audio and Macmillan Young Listeners in exchange for an honest review.

Ok so first off... I think it's misleading that this is being promoted as a retelling of Jane Eyre. Because it's not. At all. HOWEVER as a gothic story of curses and possession set in Ethiopia, it's amazing.

Andromeda spent her childhood being trained in the ways of the debtera to become an exorcist. However, circumstances occurred that caused her to run away before she was able to be licensed. On her own without money for food or lodging, she manages to book a job to cleanse a house from the Evil Eye. Little did she know what she was walking in to. The young heir Magnus is eclectic, his household staff (what's left of them) aren't exactly welcoming, and there's a young woman who looks a lot like Magnus that doesn't speak and the other servants don't seem to notice her. Something is definitely not right at this mansion. 

Andromeda is feisty and smart, as the banter between her and Magnus grows things of course get more complicated. The magic system was super interesting, and I really enjoyed the romance between Andromeda and Magnus. And what's not to like about a house with a murderous librarian spirit that will chuck books at your head? 

All in all Lauren Blackwood casts a spell over readers, allowing them to become fully immersed into this story and the world. This is a great addition to the gothic novel genre and I can see myself revisiting this text down the road.

Nneka Okoye does a superb job with the audiobook performance and knows how to further convey the gothic feel while listening to this book.
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Andromeda is a debtera—an exorcist hired to cleanse households of the Evil Eye.  When a handsome young heir named Magnus Rorschach reaches out to hire her, she takes the job without question. 

Well this book was a flop - but I think a lot of that was personal preference.  

While I liked Andromeda, she was the only character.  Magnus made me so incredible mad that I had to DNF at 40%.  I had tried so hard to look past but he had no redeeming qualities and made NO LOGICAL sense. So why was our main character instantly falling in love with him? WHY? The lack logic in this book was enough to make me mutter under my breath every time something happened... I have more to say about these characters but I feel like it's pointless to keep harping on them.  Andromeda was fine, Magnus SUCKED, moving on.

The gothic atmosphere was fine.  I tend to not enjoy gothic stories where the setting is almost it's own character. The author didn't do a bad job with this, I've just read more affective ones, and it is a personal preference that I don't love Gothic Tales. 

And as I don't know the original Jane Eyre story very well (it's been way too long) I'm not comfortable comparing the stories.

Thanks to Netgalley and Macmillan Audio for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
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Overall I found this book to average out to three stars. While I really liked the characters, especially Magnus and Saba, as well as the romance between the main character and Magnus, and how that develops, I found the magic system and general plot to be quite boring. There was nothing super compelling about the set-up that required me to care about anything that happened in the book beyond the romance and relationship building between the characters.

As far as the audiobook goes, I think listening definitely elevated my experience of learning this story. The narrator's accent made me feel more invested in the world, and was very pleasant to listen to. I would've liked it a bit better int he narrator made more distinguished voices for the characters, as dialogue was a bit hard to follow at times, however the book thankfully aided in that by reminding the listener who was speaking every paragraph or so.
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That cover!! Can you love a book solely based on the cover? I’d love to have this book on my shelf! 

It’s YA. It’s a debut! It’s tangentially an Ethiopian inspired retelling of Jane Eyre. I loved Andromeda & Magnus!! The MC is in training to be an exorcist. She spends time in a gloriously creepy castle. The romance is sweet & the horror is a light touch. Perfect choice for a quick, fun story for Halloween. 

What a great stand alone debut & I can’t wait for this author’s next book! 

Thank you NetGalley & Macmillan Audio for the opportunity to listen to this book, I pre-ordered the book for my shelf! :)
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It was a little odd to have a British narrator when this book is set in a fictional Ethiopia. It's something a lot of fantasies do where they decide a British accent is both exotic and palatable at the same time. I kept forgetting where this book was set.

A young woman must cleanse a haunted desert castle of the evil eye and save the equally cursed owner.

Within These Wicked Walls is a gothic fantasy romance the was refreshingly different from most of the fantasies on the market right now. For a debut I thought this story was pretty solid. Lauren Blackwood does a good job building atmosphere as the reader experiences Andromeda's first waking in the house. She has an instant attraction to Magnus despite his arrogance and eccentric tendencies and he finds her equally alluring.

There was a slight lull in the middle but it picked back up and I never felt this story was too long and drawn out. The writing was just descriptive enough to keep me entertained by what was going on inside the house. Once we saw what was happening with the other employees I was invested.

Though insta-love isn't my favorite in YA romance I though Magnus and Andromeda had enough chemistry to make it believable. The drama with Kelela wasn't too overdone. There is also drama with a parental figure towards Andromeda which wasn't my favorite but it didn't detract too much from my enjoyment. This is really a coming of age set against a gothic backdrop with some demons thrown in. The magic is easy to understand and the page count doesn't drag out making it easy to get teen reader's attention. Even at the slower parts I was still highly entertained.
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I really enjoyed Within These Wicked Walls is suppose to be a dark YA retelling of Jane Eyre. I can't really say I got a Jane Eyre vibe to this story other than the obvious reuse of the name Rochester. I think it does the book a disservice to compare it to the classic as it sets up false expectations.  This book is good enough to stand on it's own without the comparison. 

I really liked the main female protagonist Andromeda who is a debtera—"an exorcist hired to cleanse households of the Evil Eye." She is hired by Magnus to cleanse his house and immediately sparks fly between them. Their banter is fun and filled with obvious chemistry.
Andromeda has scars on her face but it is the scars on her heart and soul that have yet to heal.

A few of the things I love about this book is:
1. Representation: Andromeda is Ethiopian and other characters of POC as well.
2. Andromeda is strong, smart and stands up for herself. She is essentially alone in a scary world fending for herself.
3. The hero's journey is that of a woman and she comes into her own.

This book has some darkness and death as there are evil spirits but a perfectly appropriate book for a young teen.

This was a quick and good dark fantasy YA listen
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A little Jane Eyre inspiration, but make the walls bleed.

Within These Wicked Walls is a YA Ethiopian fairy-tale-inspired, very loose retelling of Jane Eyre.  There is horror and romance; there is gore and there are flying books.  There is also self-discovery and complex relationships.  

The story is based on Andromeda (Andi) who has taken a job as a debtera in the house of Magnus Rochester.  The evil-eye has ahold of Magnus' castle.  There are manifestations all over the home and the ten previous debteras haven't been able to fully cleanse the home.  Andromeda was raised by a fellow debtera, Jember.  He provided her debtera training, but put her out on the streets before she could be license.  This leaves her only chance at making it to cleanse the castle and earn a patronage.  Jember raised her to focus on survival over love with a basis in cruel, real world prep training.  Can Andromeda turn this training into survival for those she has come to care about?

I loved the narration by Nneka Okoye and would not hesitate to listen to another by her.


Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan Audio for an advanced listening copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Within These Wicked Walls is a gothic fantasy retelling of Jane Eyre set in Ethiopia with a heroine who has been hired to cleanse Thornfield Hall of evil spirits.

As a big fan of Jane Eyre, that premise immediately hooked me and I liked a lot of how this reimagined elements from the original in a way that makes sense for a modern YA novel. (for instance, while there are dark secrets they don't include a mad wife in the attic) I adored the first half of the book with this creepy house, determined heroine surviving an abusive childhood, and inventive magic system involving the creation of amulets to ward off the evil eye. We have a plain young heroine in Adromeda and a dark, forbidden romance (though this Rochester is only a year her senior, not more than a decade) I think this is really where you see the strongest points of retelling and reimagining the story. It was cool to see how the mythology and superstition surrounding the Evil Eye was woven into the narrative, one way the author really made this her own.

The second half of the book wasn't bad, but it felt much more conventional, in line with your typical YA action meets angsty romance with a side of dealing with complicated family relationships. It didn't quite deliver the plot arc and emotional impact I was hoping for, partly because it really begins to diverge from the original Jane Eyre. And the plot threads involving Andromeda's guardian wrapped up a bit too neatly for my taste. I think for many readers this departure will be less of an issue and I do think this portion is fairly well-executed, it just didn't elevate the book to the level of a new favorite as I was kind of hoping. And that's partly on my own expectations. That said, I think this is a very strong debut and a great introduction to the gothic romance genre for younger readers. The audio narration is a pleasure to listen to and I enjoyed reading along with the ebook. I received an advance audio & e-book copy of this book for review via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
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This was a fun retelling. I listened to the audio book, and I enjoyed the narrator. She did a great job bringing this to life.
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As much as I love me a morally grey/villain love interest, the soft bois still get me every time. That being said, I think the relationship between Andromeda and Magnus really carried this book for me. That plus the novel magic system and the original storyline. The concept of the evil eyes and using amulets to defeat it isn't like anything I've ever quite seen before!
The only downside to this book is that the abusive father-figure got a redemption arc... and didn't exactly deserve it.
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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an AudioARC in exchange for an honest review.

Within These Wicked Walls is a tale of curses, redemption, and survival. Andromeda has been called to essentially preform and exorcism on a house, a house where many have tried and failed. Andi, now out of options, sees the job as a chance for a new beginning for herself as well. But can her strength of will be powerful enough to break a curse? Or will the curse devour her whole?

This tale is an absolute masterpiece. Practically flawless from start to finish and with an epic conclusion that envelops the reader, body and soul. Andi is the heroine we need, even if she does go a little boy crazy at times in the book. It fits her though, her constant need to feel loved and therefore is more of a tool from the author rather than a troupe-ish snore. The manor is as glamorous as it is dangerous with rooms that boast of it's former victories against the living. Our love interest/master of the manor Magnus is haunted and yet not stuck in feeling sorry for himself. My one wish was that we got more of Andi experiencing horrors in the house as well as the magic mechanics she used to expel them. Even so, this was a damn near perfect read and will be one I recommend during many spooky seasons to come.

I recommend this for all readers of a good spooky tale 14+ as some of the imagery portrayed could seriously spook a younger group. If you're looking for the perfect read to get into the Halloween mood, look no further than Andromeda and this creepy castle.
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I enjoyed the narration for this fantasy novel. This is touted as a re-telling of the Jane Eyre story, and it does have the romance set-up similar to Jane Eyre.  Unfortunately, it's the romance aspect of the narrative that doesn't quite work for me.  On the other hand, I am totally here for the gothic fantasy ghostbusters aspect of the story.  On balance, I would recommend the audiobook with the caveat that it is slow in places.
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