The thrill and intrigue of Lovecraftian mythos is beautifully used in Cherie Priest’s Maplecroft. The debut novel of Priest’s new Borden Dispatches series is a departure from the post apocalyptic steampunk realm we have come to know her for. Taking off with the infamous Lizzie Borden, Priest creates an amazingly well-written story which takes heavy influence from Lovecraft. Priest captures an eerie reality which Lovecraft fans will adore.
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..
I have been a fan of Priest’s for sometime but she really stepped up her game in Maplecroft. The writing is entirely consistent, placing us into the perspective of several characters while remaining detailed and immersive. Clarity has occasionally been one of Priest’s inconsistencies but I can happily say that this has entirely disappeared in Maplecroft. Priest draws the reader in with fact and twists the story to a beautiful alternate history which plays on Cthulhu mythos. As a huge fan of Lovecraft, I couldn’t be happier with Priest’s introduction to the strange in everyday life.
Priest is no stranger to writing about historical characters but she made an incredibly wise choice with the Borden sisters. As historical figures go, there is so much mystery about their stories and Priest played upon this magnificently. Lizzie Borden is portrayed as a steadfast woman who is for the most part sane. Her love life is not absent, with Priest capitalizing on the recent speculation that Lizzie had a female love. This adds to the story, creating answers for many of the questions which history has poised. Emma Borden is physically weak but has a sharp mind and poses as a learned male scientist. All of these changes made the characters feel real and truly helped the story.
There are so many great details in Maplecroft which are expertly layered. To share many of them would be to ruin the surprise but I can honestly say I was never disappointed. From the mention of Miskatonic University to the ultimate ending, I was hooked with utter glee. Anyone who is a fan of Lovecraft will certainly be able to dive head first and truly enjoy Maplecroft. That being said, newcomers to this mythos will find a lot of great tidbits which serve as a pretty neat entry to Lovecraft. I can wholeheartedly recommend Maplecroft and I wait with baited breath for the next installment of the Borden Dispatches.