Unfortunately, The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling was not for me. At the beginning, Jane was an incredibly interesting heroine. She was guarded, a little socially awkward, highly intelligent and independent.
She approaches the dashing but reclusive doctor Augustine Lawrence, with an offer – a marriage of convenience that will allow her to continue her work yet conform to society in a dark-mirror version of post-war England. She had no interest in companionship or, god forbid, love… yet her prickly demeanor is chipped away almost immediately.
“The paradox of medicine: pain and relief, life and death.”
Dr Lawrence has secrets. He forbids her from visiting Lindridge Hall, his crumbling family manor outside of town instead taking residence in his local surgery. Of course, she finds herself unexpectedly stranded outside his residence in the middle of the night begging for shelter… but Dr Lawrence is a changed man. He is a tormented shadow of his once respectable self.
I was enjoying this gothic horror up until the point my theories were completely dashed. Were the fumes from the gas lightning causing spectral hallucinations? Was a mysterious cult sacrificing unsuspecting victims for a higher purpose? Was Dr Lawrence some kind of mad scientist obsessed with harvesting bodily abnormalities to add to his macabre collection? Unfortunately, I found the actual reason disappointing which tainted my enjoyment of the book.
The body horror was incredibly well written and I adored the tense atmosphere Starling created. However, I found the story unnecessarily convoluted and lengthy. I also found the characters of Dr Lawrence inherently dislikable, cowardly and conceited. It seemed unlikely that Jane would have put up with his nonsense let alone fall passionately in love with him. He was the definition of a walking red flag.
The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling is available HERE0