Review: Maplecroft by Cherie Priest

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.

Maplecroft by Cherie Priest. Book #1 in the Borden Dispatches series. Audiobook published by Tantor Media in 2014. Narrated by Johanna Pasker and Roger Wayne. Total Run time of 12 hours and 18 minutes.

(This is my 2nd time reading Maplecroft, 1st time on audio)

Now, the very beginning of Maplecroft is a little confusing. The set up just feels to drag a bit as it establishes location and the main characters. It’s not bad, just a little…. inactive? Like, it feels like nothing really happens. Lizzie basically just sets up who she is (like nobody here knows who Lizzie Borden is!) and her current situation.

Don’t worry, though. It doesn’t take long for the story to really pick up. There is a weird mystery in this sea side town and it only gets weirder and weirder. Soon there are odd things washing up on the beach, a strange affliction infecting the towns people and bizarre creatures lurking in the shadows.

The story is in the form of diary entries and letters. We see the plot unfold from multiple points of views. Two female and two male perspectives. There is a female narrator and a male narrator. Both do alright. Not wide variations between characters, but they do feel very time period accurate. I did feel a little confused between Lizzie and her sister occasionally.

I love the premise! Maplecroft has an excellent horror mystery with plenty of weird going-ons. The entire story is just drenched in dread. You can feel the tension hit you like a wave crashing in to you!

One of my small complaints of Maplecroft is that some of the characters are very – at least for me! – unlikable! I don’t know if they were meant to be disliked?? But, UGH!! I kinda hated the sister, Emma, and the girlfriend, Nance, the longer the story swam on. Both ladies are just… OBNOXIOUS and selfish. I kinda wanted them to die. D:

At the same time, Lizzie also started to annoy me once Nance became “sick”. I understand Lizzie loves Nance and is desperate to save her… BUT, the way Lizzie just drops saving the town, her allies and the nasty creatures / main villain, becoming obsessed ONLY with Nance in a very frantic way…. I don’t know, it just felt very out of character. Once Nance heads for the sea, Lizzie feels totally different. You can argue that the lost love just totally breaks her and that is why she changes so much. To me though, it just felt a little unrealistic?

Aside from a few annoying gnat like feelings over the characters, I do really enjoy the over all story. Great mash up of Lizzie vs. Lovecraftian horror. If you don’t like or know Lovecraftian stories, you will maybe not have as much fun? The story is a little ambiguous and if you know Lovecraft lore, your mind will make those connections. If you don’t know the lore, you might be left feeling a little confused? I don’t know. I love this author, so I’ll always recommend reading her work. 🙂

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