***AN INSTANT BESTSELLER!***
Best Books of 2021 · NPR
ALA/The Reading List Best Horror 2021 Pick
Longlisted for the Bram Stoker Awards for Superior Achievement in a Novel, 2021
From the Bram Stoker-nominated author of The Luminous Dead comes a gothic fantasy horror—The Death of Jane Lawrence.
"A jewel box of a Gothic novel." —New York Times Book Review
“Delicious.... By the time the book reached that point of no return, I was so invested that I would have followed Jane into the very depths of hell.” —NPR.org
“Intense and amazing! It’s like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell meets Mexican Gothic meets Crimson Peak.” —BookRiot
Practical, unassuming Jane Shoringfield has done the calculations, and decided that the most secure path forward is this: a husband, in a marriage of convenience, who will allow her to remain independent and occupied with meaningful work. Her first choice, the dashing but reclusive doctor Augustine Lawrence, agrees to her proposal with only one condition: that she must never visit Lindridge Hall, his crumbling family manor outside of town.
Yet on their wedding night, an accident strands her at his door in a pitch-black rainstorm, and she finds him changed. Gone is the bold, courageous surgeon, and in his place is a terrified, paranoid man—one who cannot tell reality from nightmare, and fears Jane is an apparition, come to haunt him. By morning, Augustine is himself again, but Jane knows something is deeply wrong at Lindridge Hall, and with the man she has so hastily bound her safety to.
Set in a dark-mirror version of post-war England, Caitlin Starling crafts a new kind of gothic horror from the bones of the beloved canon. This Crimson Peak-inspired story assembles, then upends, every expectation set in place by Shirley Jackson and Rebecca, and will leave readers shaken, desperate to begin again as soon as they are finished.
Starling (The Luminous Dead) captivates and horrifies by turn in this intricately plotted, deliciously bonkers secondary world gothic fantasy. Mathematical, methodical Jane Shoringfield, not wishing to be a burden on her guardians when they move to the capital of Great Bretlain or to live in the still shell-scarred city where her parents died during a recent war, proposes a marriage of convenience to Augustine Lawrence, the only doctor in her small town of Larrenton. Lawrence agrees on one condition: Jane is never to spend the night at his ancestral home, Lindridge Hall. But when a mudslide destroys her carriage, Jane is forced to break this promise, staying overnight at Lindridge Hall and confronting the secrets that haunt her new husband. The novel spirals out into a tale of creeping terror, both psychological supernatural, before a masterful third-act twist. Those with low tolerance for gore should be warned there are multiple graphic bloodlettings and surgeries, including one while the patient is still conscious. Gothic purists may initially balk at the secondary world setting, as it's somewhat at odds with the genre's emphasis on how women are imprisoned by real-world patriarchal structures, but Starling's magic system is so spookily and fully realized, and the final twist so brilliantly turns the novel on its head, that even the most skeptical will be won over. This proves impossible to put down.
I couldn’t put it down. First half of the book was crazy. Great suspense and story line. Then they brought out the magic? Everything became far fetched and super hard to follow. Never even finished the book.
A feat of gothic, magical realism
A deeply unsettling, deliciously rich gothic jaunt through a crumbling manor and the secrets of a handsome doctor. What’s not to love? Maybe the gore, if it’s not your thing. Maybe the weight, if you love a clean, simple read— but as autumn approaches, The Death of Jane Lawrence is the perfect book to catapult yourself headfirst into an inky, succulently spooky mood.
What stands out to me is how satisfying this read was, truly. Very often you hear the descriptor “horror” and what follows lacks class or consideration, this is not the case with The Death of Jane Lawrence— there is opportunity upon opportunity to digest, puzzle, relate or dig your sticky fingers into the illusory logic of it all without the veil of abject horror interrupting either your experience or heady dissection. Not to mention it is thoroughly, at its surface and core, INTERESTING. I would say don’t approach this book without imagination because I can’t imagine its appeal without a sprinkle of playing along, as with any piece magical realism, which is likely why it fell flat in some other reviews here. My advice? Don’t listen to them: I had a teeth-chattering blast with this book and after tearing through it I walked out the other side satisfied and passionate enough to sit and write this review.
I have nothing but praise for this book, the writing is unbelievable and every event is wrapped in a silky black bow of prose. A page turner, a mystery, a cancel-your-plans story that will grip its teeth in and leave you gasping for a reason, an explanation, a solution and a resolution. Caitlin Starling has earned, in a single book, my utmost admiration and awe and I highly recommend The Death of Jane Lawrence.