Bleak Books with Olivia: The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

Have you ever read a book all the way through just to close it for the last time and say “wow, that was bleak”? Well, I’m here to make the case for those dark, dreary, haunting, and disturbing reads that keep you up at night long after you put them down. Welcome to Bleak Books with Olivia, your resident creepy book lover at the Aurora Public Library District.

I found The Death of Jane Lawrence after scouring the internet for any books that were like the dark, mysterious, gory, magical horror of Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. I have tried about 10 books after finishing that one in hopes that I would like it just as much and I was sorely disappointed. This was the ONLY one who met and exceeded my expectations. Same type of creepy, disturbing magic and ritual focus, totally different setting.

Jane Shoringfield finds herself approaching old maid status quickly in turn-of-the-century Great Breltain. She finds the solution to her problems in Dr. Augustine Lawrence, a handsome, aloof surgeon new to town who is noticeably unmarried. They come to a clear-cut arrangement: they will marry out of convenience, as Jane wants nothing more to pursue her goal of becoming an accountant and Augustine is in desperate need of one. There is only one requirement: Jane must never enter Lindridge Hall, Augustine’s dilapidated family home. But just as the lines of their platonic arrangement are blurred, Jane finds herself abandoned outside of Augustine’s house on the night of their wedding. When she enters, she finds Augustine to be a changed man, fearful of her and believing her to be an apparition. As she explores Lindridge Hall, she finds that Augustine’s hidden secrets and demons are much darker, and more alive, than Jane could ever have imagined.

Friends, if you are looking for a truly bleak book, this is it. Caitlin Starling perfectly captures the essence of traditional Gothic horror while combining it with the peculiar, disturbing, and supernatural elements of today’s horror films. The sheer sense of dread and fear that entered my mind every time I cracked this book open is inescapable and addicting. Every chapter holds a new truth, more terrifying and haunting than anything we, and our protagonist, Jane Lawrence, can believe to be true. Monsters hide in the dark corners of Lindridge Hall, and no matter how horrifying they may be, as a reader, I couldn’t wait to meet them and know what makes Dr. Augustine Lawrence’s past so twisted and secretive. It is truly one of the best modern Gothic novels I have ever read.

Thank you for joining me on this dissection of one of my favorite Bleak Books. I hope to see you again sometime soon! Please take a look in the Adult Fiction section at the Aurora and Dillsboro Public Libraries for my favorite Bleak Books, or check out our e-books on Overdrive or Libby. If you are looking for this specific title, you can use our catalog to locate it or ask a librarian for help! If you meet me in the library and have any Bleak Books suggestions, please let me know! I’m always looking for a new book to disrupt my life for a couple of weeks.