On her wedding night in a dark-mirror version of post-war England, an accident strands Jane Shoringfield at her fiance's door, where 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.
A little bit of Bluebeard, a dash of Reynardine, and a good helping of madwoman in the attic, The Death of Jane Lawrence is everything that I wanted ... As the horrors begin to stack up...it's a real pleasure to watch practical, pragmatic Jane say, okay, this is not what I signed up for but I'm going to fix it ... That's the thing about a Gothic novel: It has to walk the line between horror and romance and not flinch away from either. The Death of Jane Lawrence is up to this task, even as it descends into a sort of frenzied madness as Jane's grasp on reality weakens and the haunting of Lindridge Hall threatens to consume her whole. By the time the book reached that point of no return, I was so invested that I would have followed Jane into the very depths of hell.
I liked the way the house was made to feel like a character and constant presence brought to life throughout the book. The writing takes you there without overloading on the description. It really built up a picture of the house in my mind, I could feel the weather, and hear the bumps and creaks in the night. The gore was also very vivid and there were times when I felt like I was seeing what Jane was seeing. The pacing was near enough perfect. There were some lulls but I felt this was necessary to allow the reader to catch their breath. The writing was easy to follow even when talking about things such as surgery and medical things that I don’t have any real knowledge of. There were parts of the book where the writing felt hectic and rushed but I felt that may have been because that was because there were times were Jane was rushing and becoming almost delirious. If anything this added to the tension. Another strength was the characters ... Although I knew I didn’t completely 'get' the ending, I still felt satisfyingly spooked ... I would recommend this book to fans of the gothic horror genre, but also to readers that like a bit of dark romance, to readers who like their female protagonists tough as nails, and also to anyone that’s just looking for a spooky read.
Starling does a magnificent, twisted job steering clear of the obvious plot beats. There are surprises galore in the secrets these characters keep and the lengths they’ll go to conceal them. Key to many a successful horror novel is having a main character to root for, one whom readers will want to see come out of everything not only alive but also stronger. Jane is absolutely that kind of character, a beacon of light in a dark world through her sheer tenacity alone, making her exploration of Lindridge Hall a white-knuckle reading experience ... For those who crave intense and detailed gothic horror, or those who just want more Guillermo del Toro a la Crimson Peak vibes in their life, The Death of Jane Lawrence is a must-read.