Disclaimer: I am friends with the author, who provided me with an advanced electronic version of this book for review.
This is the first book I’ve read in years to give me nightmares.
Lane’s debut novel is an intricate and descriptive historical horror that encompasses some of my favorite tropes in speculative fiction. Jacqueline is a woman who does her best to surround herself with support against a world where those in power see her as less than nothing. And the monsters are murderous, bloodthirsty, and most of all, very human.
As a reader who shies away from most horror fiction, I’d classify the speculative elements in this book as closer to the realm of dark fantasy. This novel may contain a vampire and a werewolf, but it subverts many horror expectations regarding these creatures’ roles in the story. The most terrifying moments in this novel often come at the hands of regular humans, which firmly pushes this story back into the domain of horror.
This novel is a dark and compelling read that brings to light aspects from the antebellum south that are often brushed under the rug. While it might be a historical tale, the underlying commentary on how men often see women is all too relevant in today’s society. Most importantly, it also highlights how far we still have to come regarding racial and gender issues.
I’m not sure whether Lane plans a follow-up to this novel, but I would love to see Jacqueline continue to come into her own power, both magically and as a woman.
Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.