Book 1, The Borden Dispatches
Author: Cherie Priest
Category: Horror; dark fantasy
Rating: Quite enjoyable
We all know the playground rhyme:
Lizzie Borden took an axe
Gave her father forty whacks
When she saw what she had done
She gave her mother forty-one
Some of us may even know what happened after the murder; that Lizzie was tried and acquitted. That after the trial, she bought a large house at the edge of town and lived there quietly with her sister.
But maybe she didn’t live quietly after all.
What if the murder was committed by Lizzie, but she was forced to it because the parents were no longer quite human? And what really happened afterward, in that large house inhabited by the Borden sisters?
These questions make for a wonderfully spooky Halloween read by Cherie Priest. The novel is written as a series of diary entries, which gives the reader an interesting 360-degree perspective of what is happening. There are murders and monsters and science gone wrong; love affairs that end tragically and two sisters tied into a symbiotic love/hate relationship by shared knowledge, horror and fear.
Maplecroft is a fast read. The characters are well-drawn, sympathetic and interesting. Honestly, I almost classified it as a Gothic at the beginning of this blog, but thought that might be off-putting to some readers. The language isn’t as flowery as most Gothics, but there is, in the finest Gothic tradition, a madwoman locked upstairs at one point.
I liked Ms. Priest’s take on what happened during the murders, and why they were committed. Her answers make as much sense as some other theories that have been posited.
This is a duology, so there will only be two books. However, that does mean that there is one more to anticipate! I’m looking forward to the second act, Chapelwood.
One final note: if you didn’t fear the sea before, you will after reading Maplecroft.