Maplecroft by Cherie Priest. ★★★1/2
Maplecroft is a fantastical horror novel set in the 1890s. I am not familiar with Lovecraft’s work, but I have heard Maplecroft be called Lovecraftian. Told in an epistolary style, Maplecroft tells the tale of a supernatural danger coming out from the ocean and the few people who stand against it.
Lizzie Borden’s father and stepfather were slowly… changed… until they lost their minds and became ghastly and murderous creatures. Now, a few years later, Lizzie and her invalid sister Emma live by themselves across town. Lizzie is desperately attempting to find out what force is at work on the town and to protect herself and her sister from the strange monsters that have been coming after them.
Yet, it looks like Lizzie’s father and stepmother won’t be the only people changed. Others are coming down “sick” as well, and Lizzie and those with her might be the only ones that stand against whatever dangerous entity dwells out at sea.
The story is told mostly through letters and diary entries of the various players involved. Lizzie, her sister Emma, the town doctor, Lizzie’s lover Nancy, and a scientist Emma writes to are the main POVs of the book. Each has a distinct perspective and personality, which were accentuated by Priest’s gorgeous gothic writing style.
The writing was definitely a high point of Maplecroft. Priest emulates the prose of the time period without becoming overwhelmingly Victorian. The result is elegant and haunting.
Why only three and a half stars? Horror simply isn’t my genre. I picked up the book because I liked some of Priest’s other writings without much knowledge of the genre or plot. I would recommend it to people who like horror novels, but it didn’t have enough of the fantastic for my tastes.