Published by St. Martin's Press on October 5, 2021
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
About The Death of Jane Lawrence
The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling is an absolute love letter to Gothic horror. Creepy, moldering family mansion, tortured hero, secrets, feelings of madness, and some serious body horror – Caitlin Starling gives you all of the things you crave from Gothic novels. And then some.
Set in alternate England, just after the War, Jane, an orphan with a talent for numbers, has decided her best bet is to make a no-nonsense, practical arrangement type of marriage. No feelings involved. She approaches the local doctor with her idea. At first, he refuses but she convinces him with her offer to live in a separate residence and to keep his books. His only stipulation is that she never his family home, Lindridge Hall.
Their plans go awry on their wedding day when a coach accident forces Jane to seek shelter from a storm with Augustine at Lindridge Hall. Jane doesn’t recognize the skittish, paranoid, haunted man who lets her in. Where’s the calm, confident doctor she married?
My thoughts about The Death of Jane Lawrence
Caitlin Starling creates a shadowy, increasingly threatening atmosphere, slowly tightening the tension. Jane and Augustine question their own sanity and each other’s as well. Jane with her practicality and love for order falls further and further into a world of magic, belief twined with her beloved mathematics as she searches for answers.
The writing is hauntingly descriptive. Be warned, there’s a fair amount of body horror. And this book does for eggs what Mexican Gothic did for mushrooms. The atmosphere is so quiet, yet constantly poised for the next horror to reveal itself.
The contrast of Jane’s down-to-earth sensibilities slamming against hauntings and secret rooms and rituals is the perfect contrast to make for uncomfortable reading. I loved the constant push and pull of were things real or was Jane going insane.
This is Gothic horror at its beautifully terrifying best. It’s got the creeping unease of Shirley Jackson, the family secrets that unsettle like Rebecca, and the lens of modernity viewing classic tropes and putting new sparkle (or maybe that’s viscera) on them like Mexican Gothic. Intensely creepy and satisfying.
My thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC.