Cover Image: Within These Wicked Walls

Within These Wicked Walls

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Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood
Narrated by Nneka Okoye
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Genre: Fantasy, Teens & YA
Publication Date: October 19, 2021

Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood is an amazing read! This action packed fantasy is captivating! It is filled with intriguing characters and a brilliant storyline. There is even a beautiful romance woven throughout!

My words don't do this book justice. If you love fantasy, romance, or incredible books, please read this!

The narration by Nneka Okoye was incredible! I loved listening to her take on this book!

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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This book was absolutely nothing like I was expecting but I had such a good time reading it. This is a loose Jane Eyre retelling set in an Ethiopian-inspired fantasy world where sins manifest literal demons. I was expecting a much more fantastical/creepy story but despite this being full of hauntings, this was so much more romance heavy than horror heavy. And I wasn't mad about it!

I think my favorite part about this book, other than the amazing world, was the characterization of Andromeda. She was such a complex character and I loved being her head. She comes from such a difficult background and definitely has the scars, literal and figurative, to show for it. But somehow she is still strong and soft all at ones. I loved the dichotomy of her personality and she was an absolutely fantastic main character.

And the world was fantastic. The setting was atmospheric and descriptive, the hauntings were creepy and terrifying (there is a spider scene that is forever imprinted on my brain), and the magic was well developed without being overdone or too heavy. Overall Lauren Blackwood just did such a fantastic job balancing all the different elements in the genre-blending story. 

This is quite heavy on the romance which I loved. I just wish it had taken a little longer to develop. As much as I like Andi and Magnus together, I thought their relationship went a from 0 to in love a little too quickly. There were some dramatic declarations of forever very early on. 

But overall, I thought this reimagining was unique and fresh and I loved the juxtaposition of the horror and romance elements. The ending was really emotional and impactful and I can't wait to pick up more from this author in the future.

Also for all you audiobook listeners - this is narrated by Nnneka Okay and she absolutely killed it with this narration. She brought such life to the story and I adored listening to it. Every character was distinct without feeling overdone, and I loved how she acted out the more dramatic portions. Absolutely fantastic audiobook!
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I received this as an audio galley to listen to for free in exchange for my honest review. Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan Audio for giving me access.

This has checks all my boxes:
- Jane Eyre Retelling (very loosely)
- Horror 
- Gothic Fantasy
- Ghosts

Aside from reading this, I want to literally dive into this story. The atmosphere that Blackwood creates is everything I want in a story. While the retelling aspect wasn't exactly a retelling, I still enjoyed the idea and concept behind the characters. 

Definitely a must read for paranormal fantasy readers out there.
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This was a great spooky read, the way the retelling was told was both true to the heart of Jane Eyre with a good amount of plot-twisting differences,
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When I saw this being promoted, I was immediately so excited based on nothing but the cover alone. After reading the description, I will say I was a bit less excited but decided to give it a shot anyway. This took me a bit to get into, and the first 1/3 of the book really dragged for me. I had a hard time really falling for the characters. The middle of the book started to pick up in drama and intrigue and kept me going. I did feel this wasn't interesting enough to keep my attention throughout, however. That is, until the last 1/3 of the book - where the drama really ramps up and has you waiting with baited breath to see what will happen. The ending really did save this entire novel for me. I really wish the rest of the book had been as good as the last 1/3 of it because I really found myself enjoying it at that point. Overall, wasn't the best but wasn't the worst. I enjoyed parts of it but found this to drag for the most part. 5/10 rounded up to 3 stars. 

Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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What a wonderfully creepy tale. The characters were well developed and described. I was immediately pulled into the story by Andromeda. I was invested in her and her ability as an excoriated in order to gain patronage. 

The narrator did a great job of encompassing  the chilling text.
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I wasn't quite sure if I liked this book or not (there sometimes seemed to be just... something missing), however I just could not stop listening! I listened to the majority of it (70%) in one day. I liked the narrator, however my biggest issue was the inconsistency in volume. You could tell when a part had been spliced in. I liked the type of "magic?", as it was a style that I hadn't seen before, so it was a nice, refreshing change for someone that reads fantasy constantly. Overall, I enjoyed it and would recommend it, particularly around spooky season!
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Andromeda is a debtera, a person hired to perform exorcisms to rid places of the Evil Eye. Raised by a debtera named Jember, she learned from the best but also the harshest. She learned at a young age that she needed to toughen up in order to survive. Now 19, she leaves her home with Jember to live on the streets, only to be hired by Magnus Rochester, a wealthy heir to rid the demons from his estate. As she spends more time in the house, Andomeda quickly realizes that there is more to Magnus than expected, and this job may be more than she bargained for. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this Ethiopia inspired loose retelling of Jayne Eyre. This castle was TERRIFYING, the manifestations that arise made my skin crawl and I would have been out of there in two seconds flat as soon as the walls started bleeding... EXCUSE ME. I really enjoyed Andi as a main character, she is so complex and layered. She is resilient and feisty, and I loved how fiercely she protected those she cared for. Learning more about her backstory was so interesting. I enjoyed her complex relationship with Jember. She considers him a father figure. She tries so hard to make him proud of her, and gain his fatherly affection, but he is far from fatherly towards her. It broke my heart to see her try so desperately to be accepted by him and being turned away every time. Magnus was an intriguing character, albeit a bit of a brat. He was definitely charming, and you can't help but fall for him a little bit, but he was also so entitled. There is definitely a case of insta-love between Magnus and Andi, but it was still an enjoyable romance none-the-less. The banter between the two was a lot of fun. There isn't much world-building but the magic system was interesting, although a bit confusing at times. I listened to this on audio, and the narrator did a great job getting the spooky atmosphere vibes into their telling of the story. 

Overall, a spooky book, perfect for October!
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This debut novel is billed as an Ethiopian-inspired fantasy retelling of Jane Eyre but I think the Jane Eyre part is the least excited part of this fantastical tale. (Which is saying something!)

I’ve never read any YA Fantasy book like this one. The world building is so unique. Andromeda is an exorcist who cleanses households of the evil eye. Magnus Rochester is desperate to have the evil eye removed from his household but no other exorcist will take the job. 

The chemistry between these two is intense and instant, the scenes of terror throughout the book are ideal for the haunting season, and the subtle Jane Eyre references bring the whole thing up a notice.
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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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