Reviews

The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

feyofbones's review

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The urgency fell off and failed to keep me engaged 

gmrickel's review

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I probably should have physically read this one rather than listening to the audiobook, especially the last 50%. With an unreliable narrator, timeline jumps, and chaotic horror, it got a bit hard for me to track. It probably didn’t help that I had to stop reading this and pick up a few other books; I think reading this book cover-to-cover would have made more sense. This book starts as a classic gothic and then morphs into something more akin to cosmic horror (a genre in still new to and don’t understand as well as I’d like). I want to read more from this author.

owlsreads's review

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2.0

Well. This had a lovely beginning and then it took a turn that didn't work for me whatsoever considering how rushed it all was. Disappointing. 

cebadgley's review

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2.0

Fever dream. I feel the need to go back and reread it to understand but I can’t say that I want to.

alyssereads's review

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5.0

I thought this book was phenomenal! A great balance of spooky and grisly. I love Starlings prose, she’s a very talented writer. This book is reminiscent of The Yellow Wallpaper and Rebecca. It made me ill, scared, happy, and sad and I’m not sure what more I could ask of a horror story.

cereeseb's review

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4.0

Caitlin Starling says she was inspired by classic gothic horror tales, and I could definitely dig the vibes.

SUMMARY
Jane lives in a Victorian alternate reality that works to really lets Starling craft the world as she wants. Jane's adopted parents are moving, and Jane feels like she has been a burden on them for too long. To give herself financial freedom, Jane decides to approach Augustine Lawrence, the highly skilled town doctor/surgeon.

Jane proposes the notion of marriage of Augustine as a businesslike arrangement: she'll do accounting for his business, he'll give her freedom. Augustine initially declines the offer but is quickly drawn to something in Jane. He agrees on the caveat she never stays over at his family's decrepit mansion.

It is quickly their wedding night, and as Jane heads back to town from a quick dinner at the mansion a storm floods the road. She is forced to trek back to the mansion. Augustine is nervous, but he allows her to stay. During the night, Jane wakes up and sees apparitions of ghosts and strange stone creatures. They terrify her. In the morning, she tells Augustine. He shakes it off as a dream, but a burn mark from the night before is still on her foot ... and some unwelcome visitors unveil a piece of Augustine's dark history ... who has Jane really married?

REVIEW
I found myself loving this book. It's outside of what I normally read, but I was unable to look away from the world and story that Caitlin Starling crafted. There were some parts that confused me - the alternate reality aspect was hard to grab at first
Spoilerand the entire magicians unwelcome visit felt unnecessary. Their attempts to try to explain the magic often left me even more fuzzy.
The gore was fitting, even though it's a horror novel it never felt gratuitous. The final plot twist was amazing - I never saw it coming. The novel did feel to end a little abruptly, but I sort of like wondering
Spoilerjust how much Augustine is actually Augustine.
However,
Spoilerthe way his reincarnated self, or whatever he is, was described at some points left me confused.
The magic elements of the book were detailed fascinatingly, and the story was overall very gripping. I'm interested in reading more about Starling's process in writing and developing the novel.

Overall, this probably isn't a book for everyone. The gothic and mystical elements felt very well done to me, but it is more of a story about existentialism and grief than a haunted house. If you're able to trudge through some confusing elements for the overall plot, it's a fantastic read.

I would love to see this turned into a movie. As a communications media major, I feel like it would play out very well on screen.

noitaskcus's review

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dark emotional reflective fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

2.5

I recently have been on a gothic literature kick. I read and greatly enjoyed Rebecca. I also like Jane Eyre.  Recently, I also watched Crimson Peak. When looking for something in that vein,  I found this book mentioned  frequently. It is definitely an homage to those stories.  However, I think this book came apart trying to fit in a ton of common gothic plot elements and themes. In doing so, none of them were really explored with a lot of depth.  There is the haunted house, the norm-defying female protagonist, mysterious love-interest, magic, supernatural, medical horror, cult, and time shenanigans. Moreover, I think some of the themes and tropes the author decided to incorporate weren't consistently applied throughout the story. For instance, the framing of the story seems to establish that the protagonist is unique, but she winds up falling into an identical structure of most gothic heroines. I think I expected the tropes to be inverted or adapted to a more modern interpretation, and in some ways they are but most were just ticked boxes in my mind.   Both Rebecca and Jane Eyre were comments on prevalent narratives and I think I expected this book to be similar. It definitely strays towards a more Crimson Peak style, which is admittedly a fun story but not genre re-defining. Maybe the problem was with my expectations?  As a side note, the second half of the book transitions stylistically and the focus shifts to the unraveling main character and away from the gothic atmosphere. Personally, I did not enjoy this as much as the first half and the final resolution didn't match the tone. 

flyingdeathturtle's review against another edition

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medium-paced

3.75

meg_leigh's review

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challenging dark emotional reflective sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.75

meadowsofbooks's review against another edition

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1.0

DNF at about halfway through the story (I skimmed the rest of the book). I was really intrigued by the synopsis but eventually felt like this book tried to be too many (gothic) things at once. Also, the main character and her love interest were quite annoying, which made it even more difficult for me to get into the story. I liked the Victorian Era-inspired setting though.