Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher and then went and bought my own copy. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Within These Wicked Walls

Author: Lauren Blackwood

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Ethiopian MC and characters, Disabled side character

Recommended For…: young adult readers, fantasy, retelling, Jane Eyre retelling, horror, gothic, paranormal

Publication Date: October 19, 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy Retelling

Recommended Age: 16+ (hunger, religion, gore, violence, slight sexual content, alcohol consumption, romance, depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, emotional child abuse, slight physical child abuse, bullying mentioned, child sex trafficking mentioned briefly, death, parental death, generational trauma)

Explanation of CWs: Hunger and poverty is shown and discussed in the book. Religion is a huge part of the book and God is mentioned frequently. There is lots of gore and violence. There is some slight sexual content and romance. Alcohol consumption between older teens and adults is shown. Depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation are shown. There are some brief mentions of emotional child abuse and some very slight physical child abuse. There is one incident of bullying mentioned that resulted in injury. There are a couple of mentions of child sex trafficking via a child at the age of 5 being sold to a brothel (she is rescued before anything happens don’t worry). There is lots of death in the book as well as parental death mentioned and shown. The book is also a huge allegory of generational trauma, showing that the trauma of one generation impacts the other and it’s up to the younger to come to terms with it in order to be free of the literal demons.

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Pages: 326

Synopsis: Andromeda is a debtera—an exorcist hired to cleanse households of the Evil Eye. When a handsome young heir named Magnus Rochester reaches out to hire her, Andromeda quickly realizes this is a job like no other, with horrifying manifestations at every turn, and that Magnus is hiding far more than she has been trained for. Death is the most likely outcome if she stays, but leaving Magnus to live out his curse alone isn’t an option. Evil may roam the castle’s halls, but so does a burning desire.

Review: I absolutely loved this book so much! It took me so long to read because I wanted to slowly devour it. The book is a Jane Eyre retelling with Ethiopian inspired fantasy and Ethiopian characters. The book also has ghosts, which makes it perfect for Halloween. The book also openly discusses menstrual cycles and it can be read as a huge allegory for generational trauma. It shows two types of generational trauma, one that Jember inflicts on Andromeda and one that Magnus’ father inflicts on him. One is from literal trauma and the other is from greed/perception of others and how it will impact themselves. I will say that I did cry while reading this book and that I was absolutely blown away with how well done this book was and it’s an amazing debut read that needs more attention. The characters are well developed, the world building is rich and wonderful, and the plot will keep you hanging in there until the last page.

The only issue I had with the book is that some of the pacing was a bit wonky in the middle, it felt slowed down and a bit out of place, but other than that this will be a book that will stay with me.

Verdict: I highly recommend this one!

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