Saturday, September 17, 2016

Review of Maplecroft by Cherie Priest

Title: Maplecroft (The Borden Dispatches #1)
Author: Cherie Priest
Publisher: Penguin Group
Publication Date: 2014
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Paranormal (YA)
Rating: 4/5 "I liked it"

I purchased this book from a library book sale.  I was not asked to write the following review.  Penguin Group and Cherie Priest did not request the following review.

Description from GoodReads
Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks; and when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one....

The people of Fall River, Massachusetts, fear me. Perhaps rightfully so. I remain a suspect in the brutal deaths of my father and his second wife despite the verdict of innocence at my trial. With our inheritance, my sister, Emma, and I have taken up residence in Maplecroft, a mansion near the sea and far from gossip and scrutiny.

But it is not far enough from the affliction that possessed my parents. Their characters, their very souls, were consumed from within by something that left malevolent entities in their place. It originates from the ocean’s depths, plaguing the populace with tides of nightmares and madness.

This evil cannot hide from me. No matter what guise it assumes, I will be waiting for it. With an axe.

My Thoughts
When I started this book, I was absolutely intrigued!  It was terrifying!  I was shivering! I did not want to put it down....and then I continued reading.  This book was chock full of terror and excitement.  It had wonderfully described characters.  What happened in the middle?  But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

First, the good.  I love the way that Priest describes her characters.  Nance is the lady that you love to hate.  Lizzie is the heroine that you want to see succeed.  Emma is the realist that you hate to love, but do anyway.  I fell so magically in love with each of these characters.  I especially loved that Priest made sure that they were not simply talking heads.  She takes the time to describe all of the most minute movements and details so that her audience feels as though they are watching the scene unfold.  

It is this same attention to detail that allows Priest to fill her book with action.  Each battle, argument, and romance filled scene has enough detail to make it feel like you are there!  It is wonderful!  

Finally, I liked Priest's idea to write this as a collection of journals from several speakers.  This allows the audience to feel the fear, anxiety, and insanity as it grows in each of the characters.

Now, the bad.  Although the characters are described well, there was little room for them to grow.  Lizzie stays Lizzie.  Emma stays Emma.  Owen is Owen.  Wolf is Wolf.  The end.  This form of literary flat-line does not do anything to impress me.  I want to see the impression that the events in the novel leave on the characters' lives.

Next, I absolutely abhorred the lack of explanation.  The entire time, the group has one foe.  It is a Problem.  It never has any name.  It is simply the Problem.  We also know that Wolf is a bit sketchy, he is working for some agency that he refuses to name.  Ever.  We NEVER find out.  WHY?  Tell me why, Priest?  Why are you torturing me?  I told you that I like your characters and yet you refuse to let me know everything about them?  What are you hiding?

Lastly, Priest could have used the journal format more effectively.  Her use of this format was rather confusing as I had to get into the persona of each character as it changed.  Often, this happened in the middle of the scene and forced me to switch POV in not so pleasant places.

I REALLY wanted to love this book.  Unfortunately, I found it less than polished and in need of stronger reasoning.

Have you read Maplecroft?  What are your thoughts?


  1. I didn't even know about this book until now. It doesn't seem like one I would like. I'm glad you enjoyed it for the most part though :)

    1. One of the boys in my classroom is very happy that I found it!