Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Historical Fantasy/Horror
Size: 448 pages
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in The Borden Dispatches
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating: 4/5 stars
I have read a number of Cherie Priest’s books and I always think they are interesting…but they never really draw me in and make me want to read more. I was curious to check out this new series by her and see if I found it more engaging than her Clockwork Century series. This ended up being an odd book. I enjoyed the writing style and thought the story was intriguing…but by the end of it all I was ready to be done with the book and didn’t really want to read more about this world or the characters.
Lizzie (Lizbeth) Borden and her sister Emma live on the outskirts of Fall River and are outcasts of the community. You see something happened to Lizzie’s parents, something evil, and Lizzie took care of them; she’s been proven innocent but everyone knows that Lizzie did something awful. Now Lizzie and her sister struggle to fight against this evil anyway they can. However, the evil is slow and creeping and taking over more of the town everyday.
The book takes place in the 1890’s, it’s more of a horror than anything and very much derived from Lovecraft’s whole Cthulhu mythos. There is a lot about madness, murder, and people going insane because of a dark and invasive power. There are a number of very graphic and violent scenes and this lends the book a very “horror” feel…some of the scenes are downright chilling. There is also a supernatural element. The pace of the story is very deliberate and at times it lags a bit.
The book is done as journal entries by a number of different characters. This is a good format for slowly unrolling the mystery of the madness that is affecting this small town. However, it is a format that makes it hard to engage with the characters. Priest does do a very good job of altering sound of the narration of different characters as they slowly descend into madness.
I will say this is not a book for those with weak stomachs. The scenes are disgusting, graphic, and downright disturbing at times.
The way everything ties up is very ambiguous and kind of left me cold. I understand it’s supposed to be all mysterious, but I would have liked a little bit more wrap-up. This appears to be the first book in a series, so maybe we’ll get more wrap up in future books.
Overall this was an odd book, that is well written but a bit slow moving. It is mostly a horror with some mystery and not a read for the faint of heart. While I found the concept and premise intriguing, the story did get a bit boring at points and I struggled to stay engaged in it at times. If you are a fan of Priest’s Clockwork Century series (and general writing style) and enjoy horror I would recommend checking this book out.