Maplecroft by Cherie Priest

September 3rd, 2014 kimbacaffeinate Review 80 Comments

3rd Sep
Maplecroft by Cherie Priest
by Cherie Priest
Series: The Borden Dispatches #1
Published by: Penguin
Genres: Historical Fiction, Horror
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

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.

Maplecroft the first in the Borden Dispatches by Cherie Priest offers a dark twist on the Lizzie Borden murders in Falls River Massachusetts. Priest offers answers to the age-old question, “Did Lizzie murder her parents with an axe and if so why?” Dark, creepy and superbly twisted the tale that on unfolds in Maplecroft will raise the hair on the back of your neck.

Delivered from multiple first person perspectives including those of Lizzie Borden and her sister Emma, Maplecroft weaves a story that may be a more frightening explanation of the events that occurred within the walls of the Borden home. After reading this you may prefer to believe Lizzie was mad as it might allow you to sleep better at night. Lizzie is cleared of the brutal murders of their parents, and they purchase a seaside mansion on the other side of town called Maplecroft. Here the sisters share a dark secret and fight a battle against evil. Something malevolent has found its way to Fall Rivers and it is consuming residences.

It is not often we read historical fiction laced in horror, and Priest’s twist on the Borden series is creepy. While I was never truly afraid, I did squirm. The reader is kept on edge as we learn details about what happened to Lizzie’s parents while, Lizzie and the others share events, as they are unfolded a year later. Through the town doctor, we see his patients slowly transform into something offsetting. He is afraid of what he is witnesses and fears that accepting it will drive him to madness. Reluctantly he himself drawn into the action. Emma sends a sample of a sea organism to a professor, and we get a firsthand account of what he discovers. Unexplained murders and missing persons soon have a Boston inspector by the name of Wolf investigating crime scenes and examining bodies that defy explanation.

Priest’s talent is evident from the action scenes to the voice she gives her characters setting a tone of madness, desperation, fear and darkness. From the beginning, we get a sense of the wrongness around Falls River and slowly we along with the character’s piece together and being to understand, although neither they nor we will ever fully understand what has occurred. Lizzie is an unexpected hero in all of this. She is an axe wielding, intelligent woman who with the aid of Emma has set up quite an elaborate laboratory and library at Maplecroft. Priest fleshed Lizzie out showing us both the strong and weak side of her, she even presents a lover into the mix, and I loved the drama and complications it caused. Much like the Overlook Hotel (Shining, Stephen King) we slowly see these characters unhinge as the full reality of what is occurring comes to life and their desperate attempts to stop it had me flipping the pages. For me, the multiple perspectives both enhanced the tale and hurt it. By using multiple perspectives, we can see what is happening in a larger sense as it provides firsthand accounts. All of this added tension and a creep factor that will make you squirm. It allowed Priest to create scenes that were unsettling and gory. You could feel the wrongness as it took hold, and I enjoyed it. However, the multiple perspectives also keep me from fully immersing myself in the tale and characters creating a disconnect.

Maplecroft was an interesting start to the Borden Dispatches, and it wrapped up fairly well, I am quite curious to see where Cherie Priest intends to take this series.

About Cherie Priest

CHERIE PRIEST is the author of over a dozen novels, including the steampunk pulp adventures The Inexplicables, Ganymede, Dreadnought, Clementine, and Boneshaker. Boneshaker was nominated for both the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award; it was a PNBA Award winner, and winner of the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. Cherie also wrote Bloodshot and Hellbent from Bantam Spectra; Fathom and the Eden Moore series from Tor; and three novellas published by Subterranean Press. In addition to all of the above, her first foray into George R. R. Martin’s superhero universe, Fort Freak (for which she wrote the interstitial mystery), debuted in the summer of 2011. Cherie’s short stories and nonfiction articles have appeared in such fine publications as Weird Tales, Publishers Weekly, and numerous anthologies. She lives in Chattanooga, TN, with her husband, a big shaggy dog, and a fat black cat

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. She's a self-professed Whovian, as well as a Supernatural, and Sherlock Holmes junkie, She enjoys sharing books, tips, recipes and hosting the Sunday Post. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat... Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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80 Responses to “Maplecroft by Cherie Priest”

  1. Roro

    I never heard of the incident before I saw this title online . I’m think I’ll can handle it . Lovely review kimberly

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Because it is based on the Bordon story the historical isn’t something I would worry is nothing more than a backdrop to the squirming and the AXE!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Oh these decades old murders always intrigue me and I love watching stuff like this on the history channel. Priest was clever and this is well worth the read.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Yes..I had a weird feeling as I read, and Lizzie was kick-ass 🙂 Yes her laboratory was creep-tastic!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Yeah, but I have a feeling we will get to know at least the main characters more as this progresses.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Ooo I look forward to your thoughts on the audio and how all the ax wielding carries over in the audio version. Eep!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I was always curious about the Borden story too Andrea, and yep this was a pretty cool twist!

  2. Rita

    Sounds really creepy in a good way! Is this totally fictionalized built on a true situation, or is this what the author believes happens, but fleshed out? Sorry to sound dense; I don’t know if there is anything known about Lizzie after the trials. Either way, I want to read this for a “thrills and chills” this Fall, so thanks!
    Rita recently posted…Jot It Down! random pics/thoughts 9/2/14My Profile

  3. Amber Elise

    You’re right, Horror + Historical Fiction is not a combination that we usually see in the book world. I’ve never heard of Lizzie Borden’s story but I like the idea of Priest trying to find reason for her actions.

    Tis the season for Scary Reads so I’ll add this to my pile! Thanks Kim!

    Amber Elise @ Du Livre

  4. Michelle

    Fun fact: My boyfriend and I share our birthday with Lizzie Borden! I’m not really excited about that, but I always like to see people’s faces when I tell them, lol.
    I really want to read this one! The author is coming to Atlanta to sign books this fall, and I might try to go. I’m glad you enjoyed it Kimba!
    Michelle recently posted…Fan Art Up! (1) – Beauty and the BeastMy Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      No I was never scared, and I am not sure creepy is the word..more awkward unease?

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Yeah, it looks like it will be and I am curious to see where she takes Lizzie and her ax next!

  5. Kathy

    I’ve been wanting to read this book. I remember the movie with Elizabeth Montgomery. I think I watched it in the 80’s but I don’t remember all the details but the end when she’s washing herself of the blood. Very creepy especially with that rhyme! This is a great review and I agree when there is too many POVs you can get lost and disconnected with the story. But I am curious as to what the author plans to do with this series. I’ll try to read this for October to get in the Halloween mood. Great review!!!
    Kathy recently posted…Weekly Wrap Up 19My Profile

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Well worth the read Kathy and I myself am curious to see what direction she takes this series. Her twist on the events of that night long ago were unique, twisted and creep-tastic.

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