Contemporary Lovecraftian Lore: A Review of Maplecroft by Cherie Priest

mapleTitle: Maplecroft (The Borden Dispatches #1)
Author: Cherie Priest
Genre: Horror / Historical Fiction / Fantasy
Publisher: Roc
Publication Date: September 2nd, 2014
Kindle Edition: 448 Pages
Source: Personal Purchase

“Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks; and when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one….”

The people of Fall River, Massachusetts, fear me. Perhaps rightfully so. I remain a suspect in the brutal deaths of my father and his second wife despite the verdict of innocence at my trial. With our inheritance, my sister, Emma, and I have taken up residence in Maplecroft, a mansion near the sea and far from gossip and scrutiny.

But it is not far enough from the affliction that possessed my parents. Their characters, their very souls, were consumed from within by something that left malevolent entities in their place. It originates from the ocean’s depths, plaguing the populace with tides of nightmares and madness.

This evil cannot hide from me. No matter what guise it assumes, I will be waiting for it. With an axe.

“It sounded like music played by a madman on an instrument found in hell.”

I couldn’t wait to read Maplecroft from the moment I found it. The combination of Lovecraftian horror with a historical figure like Lizzie Borden was just too much to resist. I dove into it mere minutes after finishing my previous book. I would have devoured it in one sitting if it had not been three o’clock in the morning.

Maplecroft is immediately engaging. The plot progression started out a bit slow, but the beauty of Priest’s prose and the flawless shift of voice between characters is entrancing. I found myself drawn in. Each chapter featured letters and journal entries from the main characters as well as a cast of supporting characters who offered their own unique perspectives and opinions on the events occurring in Fall River, Massachusetts.

The main characters are all well-developed though not always likable. Lizzie often comes off as stubborn and rash while her sister Emma is selfish and her lover Nance is naïve. These little flaws bring life to the characters and make the story feel honest.

There were some minor pacing issues, leaving the bulk of the action happening in the last half of the novel. This lead to the book feeling like it might have been too long. With that said, I am likely nitpicking with these complaints as I never found myself trudging through chapters in order reach the “good stuff”.

All in all this was a fantastic read. If you are looking for something to hold your attention for a few days I couldn’t recommend anything better. Don’t rush through it. Take your time and enjoy it. It is well worth the investment.

Even though Priest did a good job of tying up loose ends in Maplecroft a sequel will hit shelves this September. I am a little skeptical, but I enjoyed this book so much that I could not skip out on the sequel.