Book Reviews

Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood: ARC Book Review

This is a spoiler-free review.

Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood

Expected publication November 9th, 2021 by Wednesday Books.

My rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Andromeda is a debtera—an exorcist hired to cleanse households of the Evil Eye. She would be hired, that is, if her mentor hadn’t thrown her out before she could earn her license. Now her only hope of steady work is to find a Patron—a rich, well-connected individual who will vouch for her abilities.

When a handsome young heir named Magnus Rochester reaches out to hire her, she takes the job without question. Never mind that he’s rude and demanding and eccentric, that the contract comes with a number of outlandish rules… and that almost a dozen debtera had quit before her. If Andromeda wants to earn a living, she has no choice.

But she 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, the reason every debtera before her quit. But leaving Magnus to live out his curse alone isn’t an option because—heaven help her—she’s fallen for him.

Stunningly romantic, Lauren Blackwood’s heartstopping debut, Within These Wicked Walls, ushers in an exciting new fantasy voice.

Thank you to the publisher, Wednesday Books/St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Within These Wicked Walls tells the story of Andromeda, a young woman who goes by Andi. When the story begins, she is hoping that exorcising the Evil Eye for her wealthy and eccentric client, Magnus Rochester, will get her the recognition she requires to continue her work as a proper debtera; since her mentor threw her out before she could earn her license.

But cleansing the Evil Eye is a much bigger undertaking than Andi first anticipated. (So much so that many debtera have tried – and failed – before her.) And her growing feelings for the young heir complicate matters further. It will take all of Andi’s training – and maybe a little help from others – to accomplish this life-threatening task.

After hearing about the super interesting premise, I was definitely excited to pick up Within These Wicked Walls! The execution itself was not, unfortunately, all I was hoping it would be. But, it was still an enjoyable read!

I loved the gothic, Ethiopian-inspired fantasy/horror aspects of this story. The haunted mansion and ominous curse were well crafted and very spooky. In fact, I think the foreboding horror unraveling in the mansion was so well done that it outshone everything else. Where this story fell short for me was in regards to the rest of its world-building. Because so much of the plot takes place at the Rochester estate, the world outside of this setting felt like it didn’t reach its full potential.

Another element of this story that I enjoyed was Andi and Magnus’s characterization. They were both full, rounded characters with their own demons to overcome, literally. Their romance itself did feel a little rushed, and a bit like it came out of nowhere, but was nevertheless quite sweet. While I could appreciate the romance overall, I did feel like it just took up too much space in this story. There were a number of conflicts thrown in to prolong their discord that I couldn’t help feeling weren’t really necessary. It was clear they cared about each other and would end up together, and their squabbles felt surface-level at best.

The magic system and curse at the heart of this novel were so interesting! It felt like a missed opportunity to have the story focus more on the budding relationship than the intricate universe it was set within.

Have you read Within These Wicked Walls?

What did you think about it?

Let me know!

Liza is a twenty-something book blogger who spends way too much time with her nose in books and feels way too much. She loves cooking, baking, reality tv show watching and, of course, reading. She can be found most often with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other. Her blog, Literary Liza, features bookish content like reviews, recommendations, and author interviews.


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