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Maplecroft by Cherie Priest

Maplecroft by Cherie Priest
Book Name: Maplecroft
Author: Cherie Priest
Publisher(s): Roc
Formatt: Paperback / Audiobook / eBook
Genre(s): Horror / Historical Fantasy
Release Date: September 2, 2014

I love a good creepy story. I don’t run across them nearly as often as I’d like since all too often “creepy” gets mistaken for gross-outs and the unexpected bucket of entrails slopped over somebody. Furthermore, with the case of monster-type horror, one’s initial apprehensions are usually curbed a little by finding someone who knows what the monster is.

Maplecroft doesn’t deal in certainty.

Lizzie and Emma Borden took up residence in the Maplecroft house shortly after Lizzie’s trial and acquittal for the vicious murder of their father and stepmother. There in their isolated house by the sea, Lizzie looks for answers while something lurks and calls from the ocean. And transforms.

Upon first inspection, I thought that this book was going to be written from Lizzie Borden’s first person view. I was rather mistaken. Maplecroft uses dairies and correspondences from three main characters (Lizzie, Emma, and Doctor Seabury) and a few more supporting characters. I rather liked the effect as each perspective came at the strange goings on in vastly different ways from Emma’s detached observations, to Lizzie’s determined puzzling and experimentation, to Doctor Seabury’s growing unease in the recurrence of symptoms and events. In some ways the style reminds me very much of Dracula, but rather than having a knowing Van Helsing to tell our heroes what needs to be done to the monster, there isn’t anyone to bring these very different people together and the personal fissures between them become more and more obvious in each journal entry.

Lizzie Borden was a very interesting protagonist. In a lot of ways she acts as a go between for several different characters and her conflict between who she wants to protect and who she’s willing to sacrifice ran as an undercurrent throughout the story. She clearly wants to protect her sister and her lover Nance, and is sort of willing to extend that protection but she is only one person with a basement lab and an axe in hand. Emma’s narrative was more about choice, acceptance of responsibility and consequences. Her approval (or lack thereof) of Lizzie’s relationship with Nance is a bigger wedge between her and her sister than the creepy things that come knocking on the doors at night could ever be. The story likes to highlight the dysfunctions of its players and makes one wonder how any of these people can stand to be in a room together. Their pasts hover over them like drippy coastal fog.

Unfortunately, I did think that some of the monsterishness was revealed early when I thought that the unease around the little scraps of sea glass were so much more interesting and more frightening for their pull even after breaking free of them. On the other hand, I did like the way it ended with very little explained and just some very confused, upset, and disparate people trying to interact with each other.

I liked this book overall, even with the monster dropped in. I liked how it kept up its atmosphere of tension among the characters and the multiple viewpoints of what was happening in their little seaside town. I’d happily recommend Maplecroft for Halloween reading.


One Comment

  1. […] baby. Here are a couple of new reviews that landed overnight, presented for your consideration: Fantasy Faction – (Where it’s rated 9/10 stars) “The story likes to highlight the dysfunctions of […]

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