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  • Mandy McHugh

The Death of Jane Lawrence, Caitlin Starling: A Review

The Luminous Dead blew me away, and Yellow Jessamine was an amazing novella follow-up. When I saw the announcement for The Death of Jane Lawrence, I knew I had to get my hands on it, and I was thrilled to be approved. While this title doesn't come out until October, I couldn't leave it in my queue a minute longer.

When Jane approaches Dr. Augustine Lawrence with a marriage proposition, she has every intention of keeping things strictly business. She wants autonomy, to work with numbers, and Augustine seems like a solid match. But when things progress between them and Jane spends the night at his decrepit estate, she soon realizes that there is much more to their arrangement. Ghosts, magic, murder--Jane doesn't know what to believe, but she's determined to find out. I *loved* this book. Let me start by saying, I don't scare easily. I love ghost stories. Haunted houses are my jam. But it's difficult to execute a scare that feels original and true to the genre at the same time. Starling, however, nails her execution. While we often talk about world building in fantasy, there is a great deal of scene-setting happening here, subtle details and meticulous structure that breathes authenticity into the story. Jane's world is so tangible, so realistic, it is nearly impossible not be in the surgery with her in those first harrowing pages. Visceral imagery steals the show, but characters also have rich histories, complex family turmoil, societal expectations that are close to but not quite the norm you might expect. It almost feels like you're reading of a parallel universe that is simultaneously overlapped with our own. No spoilers, of course, but there is some matrix-level analyses of fear, time, identity, and womanhood that I won't be able to shake any time soon. Starling's writing highlights many relevant issues and does so while juggling supernatural beings that will literally haunt my nightmares for the rest of my life. Overall, The Death of Jane Lawrence is a chilling, haunting, un-put-downable read that will leave you gutted. I highly recommend to anyone looking for a period-esque horror, haunted house horror, or anyone who is looking for an unforgettable read. Huge thanks to St. Martin's and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.

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