The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

Nov 2, 2023
HORROR BOOK REVIEW The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

Review by Amber Logan

A shiver went through her. “And when you died? What was there?”

“Pain,” Renton said. “Pain, and knowledge. I played at magic, and I died. I died, and I knew magic.”

“Can you teach me?” she asked, voice barely a whisper.

By the time I was halfway through The Death of Jane Lawrence, I was ready to follow Jane anywhere. Which is fantastic because she went some dark places.

When I started the book, it felt like I was reading a lovely gothic kind of romance with a feisty heroine, and then it slowly evolved.  Grew deeper, and darker. I found myself thinking “oh god, is she going to go there?”

Reader: she went there.

Set primarily in a creepy, isolated house in rural post-war England, the setting itself is eerie and unsettling. Jane is recently married to a surgeon she barely knows, and surgeries are performed in the house in realistic, graphic detail. The blending of medicine and spiritualism—both with painful costs—is exceptionally well done in this book as the lines between dark magic and life-saving surgeries become blurred.

She had bent the world to one single purpose: to rescue him. She had driven herself mad with lack of sleep, and swallowed half-formed birds, had sat with ghosts and screamed and cried, and now, here, she was so close to her goal that she didn’t know what came next. She had never thought beyond opening the stone blocking the cellar. She had never thought she might not follow him out. She had never thought she might die.

As evocative as the language and the story is, The Death of Jane Lawrence is not an easy read, nor is it for everyone. I had to stop reading it at night (and had to postpone writing this review until I was sitting in a sunny coffeeshop with friends) because the story was so disturbing I wasn’t sure I could sleep. Honestly, I consider this high praise, and if you are the type of reader who enjoys visceral descriptions, black arts, and an engaging narrative that spirals cyclically into darkness, you will love this book, too.

The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

A haunting new imagining of gothic horror set in a dark-mirror version of post-war England that is not to be read alone at night. For fans of Crimson Peak, Shirley Jackson, Mexican Gothic and Rebecca.

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.

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