Cover Image: Within These Wicked Walls

Within These Wicked Walls

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

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.

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

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!


Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

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!!!

Was this review helpful?

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!

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

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!

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

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!

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

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)

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

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!

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?

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! :)

Was this review helpful?

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.

Was this review helpful?