ARC Review: The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

Summary: Practical, unassuming Jane Shoringfield has decided 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. Yet on their wedding night, an accident strands her at his door in a 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.

Genre: horror, gothic, historical fiction
Rating: 4/5 stars

The Death of Jane Lawrence boasts inspiration from stories like Crimson Peak and Rebecca, but the biggest difference between these stories is that Jane Lawrence packs all the punches and isn’t afraid to go beyond what you would expect from a gothic horror novel. Don’t get me wrong, Crimson Peak and Rebecca are equally deserving of their praise, but Jane Lawrence pushes the envelope, diving deeper into a truly haunting world that will leave you questioning what, exactly, you just read.

Jane Lawrence stayed with me for days after finishing because the story is so beautiful and intricate. I was immediately drawn into the world here, and I found Jane to be an incredible heroine. She researches the best option for a husband in a marriage of convenience. She’s uninterested in romance; she just wants to keep her life as familiar as possible but knows it’s unrealistic to be a single woman in this era. Jane is fiercely independent, intelligent, and unafraid – all traits that take her far with everything she faces in this story. Most women in horror stories make foolish decisions or fall apart easily, but Jane discovered the deep horrors of Lindridge Hall and quickly adapted to her surroundings to survive.

Lindgridge Hall is truly remarkable, and I loved how atmospheric this story became once Jane first stepped foot inside. Augustine lives in a crumbling, dilapidated manor with only one cook and one housekeeper, both of whom leave the residence at nightfall. It’s depressing and just the right amount of spooky without being cliche. I’m truly jealous of people who will read this on its release date in October, because I think it’ll be a perfect Halloween read.

I was expecting a standard haunted house story here, and I honestly was not prepared for what transpired later, but I loved it. The direction this story went was so unique compared to most horror novels out there, and it wasn’t afraid to include some truly terrible things. There were times I was a bit squeamish, uncomfortable, and downright scared, which are all traits that most horror writers thrive for but almost none achieve. Jane Lawrence ticked all the boxes here.

The only reason for not giving this a full five stars was because I sometimes felt like the story got long-winded. The later portion of the story revolves around Jane working on one task over the course of a few days, and it became a bit too repetitive. There’s also a “reveal” toward the end that I really enjoyed, but I wish the story had ended more abruptly there instead of tying up all loose ends and dragging out the story more. I think it would have landed a bigger punch had the reader gotten less closure, especially about certain characters, but I understand not everyone will feel the same and will want that closure from this story.

But it felt good, to see the violence of the house written upon her flesh. It meant she was real. It meant this was real.

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