Review of Within These Wicked Walls, by Lauren Blackwood

Within These Wicked Walls

by Lauren Blackwood
read by Nneka Okoye

Macmillan Audio, October 2021. 8 hours, 54 minutes.
Review written July 27, 2022, from a library eaudiobook.
Starred Review

First, I have to say that I’ve found another favorite narrator. Nneka Okoye has a voice I love to listen to, and made this book all the more mesmerizing and magical. That was a little bit unfortunate. I was listening to this audiobook on the same weekend I planned a 48-Hour Book Challenge, and spent more time listening than I did reading. I thought it was a shame, since I can read a book faster than I can listen to one, so I didn’t finish as many books. But I did tremendously enjoy the time, so it’s all good.

Within These Wicked Walls is a very loose resetting of Jane Eyre, set in Ethiopia, where Coptic Christianity is the main religion and the Evil Eye is running rampant.

Andromeda is a debtera — an exorcist who can cleanse households of the Evil Eye by crafting silver amulets. Unfortunately, because her guardian threw her out, she’s not licensed. So she needs to take any job she can get and hope for a patron to vouch for her so she can get more work.

She comes to the castle of Magnus Rochester. And it turns out that he will hire an unlicensed debtera because ten others have already given up on the job.

The more Andie sees, the more she’d like to leave as well. But she needs that patronage. And worse, she’s beginning to care for the cursed master of the castle.

This version takes out some of the worst parts of Jane Eyre — there’s no crazy wife in the attic and no illegitimate daughter. He’s not vastly older than her, only a couple years.

He does put her in situations that make her jealous, though not quite as blatantly and intentionally as the original. And she does run off at one point, though with every intention of going back.

So admittedly, Jane Eyre isn’t a model for a functional romance. This one did nice things with the material. There’s lots of death and danger and a creative story with compelling magic and a young heroine with the strength to fight demons in order to save those she loves.

(Link to My Plain Jane and Brightly Burning.)

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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