Maplecroft by Cherie Priest

September 3rd, 2014 Kimberly Review 80 Comments

3rd Sep
Maplecroft by Cherie Priest
by Cherie Priest
Series: The Borden Dispatches #1
Genres: Historical Fiction, Horror
Source: Publisher
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
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.

Photo of kimbacaffeinate
About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

80 Responses to “Maplecroft by Cherie Priest”

  1. Tressa

    Ooooh! That creeped me out a little just reading the synopsis and your review. It sounds like it was written fairly well. I don’t read horror too much – just not my thing. I’ll have to think about if I want to read this one.

  2. 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!!!

    • 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.

  3. Cyn

    I didn’t realize that this was a series. Glad to hear it was a pretty good read and was nice and creepy! I totally agree about multiple POVs making it heard sometimes to connect with characters. Lovely review, Kim!

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  4. Michelle

    This book looks so freakin good! I have wanted to read it for a while now. Lizzy Borden has always kind of fascinated me. And the fact that it had you squirming is a big plus in my book.

    Great review Kimba 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I was always intrigued by the story too, I hope you get to read this Michelle.

  5. Ginny

    This one is on my read list for this month but now I’m wondering if it might be too scary/creepy for me. I think this one might give me nightmares. Yes…I’m as big of a baby as that made me sound.

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  6. 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!

  7. Melanie Simmons

    I don’t read many historicals and when I do, they usually have a paranormal element. One with a side of horror sounds right up my alley. I saw that Loupe just got it on audio. I’m going to see what she says about the audio version before I determine whether I read or listen. Great review.

  8. Lauren

    Ooh this sounds creepy! I love Cherie Priest and had no idea she was starting a series about Lizzie Borden. I definitely want to give this a try (though not anywhere near bedtime). Lovely review!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am really excited to see where she takes this series Lauren 🙂

  9. Liza Barrett

    Intriguing description. I haven’t read Priest before, but she’s hit my radar a few times. She just never quite gotten high enough on my TBR. Lovely review.

  10. Tammy

    I can’t wait to get to this! This book is definitely my type of story, and the gothic elements make it very attractive to me.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It was well done Tammy, and I think you will enjoy it..perfect for Fall.

  11. Mary

    I’m really curious about this story, especially to read how Priest turned the Lizzie Borden story on its head. Plus, awesome cover.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Love the cover, and yep she as quite the imagination..enjoy Mary 🙂

  12. Lori

    I love the cover and everything about this book! I’ve watched a lot of documentaries on Lizzie Borden (even the lifetime movie…haha) so I’ll be adding this to my list. I’ve always been fascinated by this story!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I have watched them too Lori, call me creepy but this stuff fascinates me. This was twisted and well done!

      • Lori

        Me too, it is fascinating! I just learned this is available on audio so I might listen to it instead. 🙂

  13. Sophia

    I’m in love with this cover. o_o

    Anyhoo, you got to admit it’s pretty hard to scare a person in writing when compared to movies since you don’t have to imagine the creepy stuff. Eeep! o_o

  14. Melissa (Books and Things)

    I might have to try this one, but I want to do her other fantasies first. I have her on my must try author list. I’m sure I will squirm as well. I like creepy but not too scary and this sounds like it fits the bill.

  15. 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

    • kimbacaffeinate

      The real story is fascinating, but I loved Priest’s twist on it.

  16. Megan

    I’m really intrigued by this one. I might have to give it a try, it sounds like a fun mix of horror and historical.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I loved the real facts intertwined with Priest’s interpretation.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I have been moving in that direction too Cat, it happens as Fall approaches

  17. 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!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Based on original story and is her twisted idea of what and why it all happened!

  18. Andrea

    I remember being pretty fascinated with the Lizzie Borden story as a kid. It’s very cool to take that story and add a twist to it. And I love that cover!

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  19. Lupdilup

    I bought this one yesterday precisely for reason you mentioned, I’m curious about the mix of genres. Now I’m a little nervous..LOL Audio, at least for me (when read by a good narrator), can make the violence and the tension a lot more real…Eeek!
    I’m still curious tho 🙂
    Thanks Kimba, good job!

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  20. Jenea

    Well, it sucks that the different pov’s made it possible to connect to the characters. I want to read this one really bad too. At least the creepiness was all there, which makes me happy. 🙂 Great review.

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  21. kindlemom1

    For some reason I didn’t realize this was going to be a series. I think, even though I really want to read it now, I will wait until book two comes out before starting it. But I am excited to get this unique look into this tale.

  22. Felicia the Geeky Blogger

    This is another one I am hoping to get for audio review if not I will be using a credit! I have never read Cherie before (but I have met her) and after your review I think I will *heart* it!

  23. kim { Book Swoon }

    I enjoyed Maplecroft as well, Kimba. I enjoyed the mix of horror and historical the author created, and the every present feeling of wrongness. And that axe, no holding back when it came to action scenes. What did you think of her strange and fascinating labortory?
    Wonderful review 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  24. Katherine

    Yes please! I’ve always been fascinated by the Lizzie Borden story and a creepy take with an inside look sounds like a great read. I’ll make sure to keep the lights on while I’m reading it though!

    • 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.

  25. Melliane

    I haven’t read a book by the author yet but I confess I’m quite intrigued because I heard great things about this book seem to have some great reviews so I’m curious to try it as well. In the wishlist!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I was impressed Melliane and I am anxious to see where she takes this.

  26. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    I completely agree with you – Cherie’s talent is quite extraordinary, and this entire book was so interesting and different. I have no idea where she might take it next but I’m very curious to find out.
    Wonderful review!

  27. Faye D'Social Potato

    Yeah, a historical book mixed with horror? That’s something you don’t always see but I would love to read this and see the author’s spin on it! It’s definitely something I’d love to see explored. I rarely read historical, but I love horror, so I can try to get myself into this one as a starting point.

    • 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!

  28. Roro

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