Within these Wicked Walls

by: Lauren Blackwood

A Jane Eyre inspired Ethiopian story. All in all I give it a 2.

I say inspired and not retelling because there’s a lot missing from it to be a retelling. Instead we get a girl in need of a job who takes one on at a creepy house with a strange, enigmatic master of the house.

What’s so strange? Well, he’s living under a curse. And it’s one that won’t let him die.

Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books. A “retelling” of it with a Black leading character was everything I’d ever wanted. Unfortunately this story did not deliver for me.

I’ll start with what I liked the most. The magic system. I’d never seen one like it, or ever read the word debtera before. We are introduced to Andromeda or Andi as she hopes to cleanse this house.

There are some solid moments of gothic horror, blood from the walls and other unnerving moments. There’s also a permanent chill in the air that has the house in constantly cold conditions even though it was built in a desert.

I’m afraid that what I don’t like outweighs what I did.

For one, the romance. In Jane Eyre, it’s slow. In a lot of other, modern stories, retellings or otherwise, the characters grow to care about each other as they learn about each other. That is not the case here.

It is fast paced and not in a good way. It feels almost like insta-love. It hit me fast and as the relationship goes on, I couldn’t get behind it.

Mr. Rochester is still the main love interest and is even more strange that in the story this is inspired by. Magnus’ mood swings are so often that they’ll leave you with whiplash. It got a big aggravating to read as it went on.

Due to the way Andi was brought up by Jember, her abusive caregiver, it seems like she’s just falling for the first person to show her kindness and respect.

I was really interested in the magic system. The amulets, how they worked and what made them tick. It’s never really explained. Nor is the religious aspect of the story or even where it takes place.

We’re told at one point that snow is common around the world and even in the country where the character is experiencing it but that’s all we get. The house is in a desert in a country where it snows in some spots. When it came to the worldbuilding, it just wasn’t strong.

I wanted to love this but there was too much in the way that I just couldn’t get over.

I received this book as an arc from NetGalley and the publisher in return for an honest review.


Author. Reader. Reviewer. Interested in Sci-fi, Fantasy, and everything in between. Ya, and Adult. Looking for representaion where it matters! BIPOC, LGBTQ+, disabled, everything! We all deserve stories!

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