Within These Wicked Walls

Rating: 3 out of 5.

As a debtera, Andromeda has trained in the trade of exorcism, but she was thrown out of her house before getting her license. Desperate for work and money, she takes a seemingly impossible job cleansing a castle of the Evil Eye for the castle’s handsome and somewhat eccentric owner Magnus Rochester. Many debtera have tried, and all of have failed, but Andromeda knows she is talented and believes in her ability. However, the castle is worse than she could have imagined and Andi may just be out of her depth. 

This is a creepy reimagining of Jane Eyre set in a desert region of East Africa. I am going to be honest and say I have never read Jane Eyre (cue the shock and outrage) so I cannot actually speak to how closely the book follows the original story. But, the story stands up well on its own, even without knowing Jane Eyre! That said, I personally have mixed feelings about the book. I enjoyed Andromeda and loved the creeping, menacing manifestations in the castle, but I thought the entire book was under-developed. 

I’ll start with what I love, which is Andromeda and the castle. Andromeda is an incredibly strong character who is confident in her abilities and has spent her entire life working hard to survive. She has an interesting relationship with her mentor, Jember, who took her on as a child but instead of giving her love, he gave her an education in the work of a debtera. I loved seeing Andromeda approach the manifestations in the castle undaunted.

I also found the manifestations of the Evil Eye to be incredibly compelling. There was a room that filled with blood, a room haunted by the spirit of a woman who speaks through books, hands grabbing at victims, and the Evil Eye itself manifested as a hyena that kills victims who are then absorbed by the castle. I thought the descriptions of these manifestations were dark and creepy and added to the broodiness of the book. 

Outside of the castle, I thought the world building was underdeveloped. I had no real sense of when in time this was taking place or where it was taking place. There’s a village that Andi visits, but it’s not described well and I did not have a good feel for what it looked and felt like. Likewise, there was little development of the reason for debtera. Why is the Evil Eye so prevalent? Is it a problem haunting the entire world, or is it something about the village where Andi lives? What exists outside of this village and castle? I had many questions that did not get answered. 

I also found the romance to be intense but very underdeveloped. Andi begins working for Magnus and finds him handsome but eccentric and rude, but then they begin to like each other and they move fast. Andi decides to risk everything to save Magnus from the Evil Eye and is even willing to put her mentor at risk in order to save Magnus. I personally found the relationship to have developed too quickly and I did not find it realistic or particularly compelling. I’m not sure if Jane Eyre moves that same way, though. But this romance didn’t do it for me! 

So a mixed review from me on this one. There were some really interesting moments and it was a nicely dark, fast-paced read, but it didn’t hit the mark for me. If you’ve read it, let me know what you think! 

CW: From author: death, body horror, abuse, blood/gore

Published by Kristi

Hi there! I am Kristi, a book obsessed human with strong opinions. Join me as I read across genres and do the work to find you the best of the best books.

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