top of page

Lauren Blackwood's WITHIN THESE WICKED WALLS - A Creative Re-Imagining of JANE EYRE

Book Cover of Lauren Blackwood's Within These Wicked Walls

by Jen Moyers (@jen.loves.books)

Thanks to partners NetGalley, St. Martin's Press, and Wednesday Books for the digital ARC of Lauren Blackwood’s Within These Wicked Walls (Amazon | in exchange for an honest review. The book just released on October 19!

Those of you who follow me know that I love a new version of a classic, and I’m particularly a sucker for a Jane Eyre (Amazon | retelling, so when I saw that there was a Jane Eyre retelling set in Ethiopia with a fantasy twist, I requested it immediately. Wow, did Lauren Blackwood’s Within These Wicked Walls satisfy my every hope and expectation!

This book does what the best retellings do: it takes its source material as inspiration and then spins out a new story and a new world. Here, the Jane character is Andromeda, a debtera—a type of exorcist—who can cleanse homes of the Evil Eye. In desperate straits after her mentor cast her out, Andromeda takes on a job at which ten other debteras have failed. She’s employed by the mysterious Magnus Rochester who lives in near-solitude at the far end of a desolate desert. All but a few servants and the nanny who raised him have abandoned him, apparently scared away by the curse no one can defeat.

We experience the story through Andromeda’s eyes, and what a fabulous protagonist she is. Like Jane, she’s been raised in unusual circumstances, and her values differ from those of her world. She calls herself plain but cares little about her appearance. Instead, she values her strength and skills in her profession and communicates with a blunt honesty that shocks Magnus. He, in turn, is lacking social graces after having grown up as an outsider from his family and from society, so for a while, their bluntness seems to put them at odds. And then, of course, things change.

I loved SO much about this story. Andromeda’s narrative voice is so much fun—I love her strength and her defiance of convention. Watching Magnus meet his match in Andromeda is so satisfying, and their chemistry is great. I also, however, appreciated the secondary characters: Saba, the silent and mysterious woman who takes joy in helping others; Jember, the debtera who raised Andromeda, whose complexity I found to be appealing; and even Kelela, the beautiful young woman who is Andromeda’s rival for Magnus’s affections.

Most of all, I reveled in Blackwood’s development of the magic behind the curse that Andromeda is fighting. The way it manifests throughout Magnus’s estate is haunting and imaginative and creepy: it preys on characters’ compassion for others and on their unique weaknesses, and watching Andromeda strategize the best way to fight each new Manifestation shows her intelligence, her perseverance, and her strength.

I was shocked to find out that Within These Wicked Walls is Blackwood’s debut, and it is certainly a confident, brilliant first novel. I can’t wait to see what she tackles next.

(A note to our readers: click on the hashtags above to see our other blog posts with the same hashtag.)

Interested in what else we're reading? Check out our Featured Books page.

Loving what you see here? Please comment below (scroll ALL the way down to comment), share this post using the social media buttons below (scroll down for those as well!), and find us on social media to share your thoughts!


Want to support Unabridged?

Check out our Merch Store!

Become a patron on Patreon.​

Follow us @unabridgedpod on Instagram.

Like and follow our Facebook Page.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Follow us @unabridgedpod on Twitter.

Subscribe to our podcast and rate us on Apple Podcasts or on Stitcher.

Check us out on Podbean.


Please note that we a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. We also are proud to partner with and have a curated Unabridged store as well as affiliate links.

17 views0 comments


bottom of page