Maplecroft by Cherie Priest is presumably the first in a series titled The Borden Dispatches. Cherie Priest is a stellar writer and this time she dives into Lovecraft-tinged horror. I've heard some complaints from fellow early readers that this is being mis-marketed as historical fiction, and I absolutely have to agree. Is it based on a real historical figure? Yes, Lizzie Borden (of the forty whacks fame), but this is not a fictionalized account of her life, this is sheer, delightful, grisly fantasy. If you don't like gore, this is not the book for you. If you scare easily, at the very least don't read it after sundown. And, if you wanted genuine historical fiction, turn back now.
The issue of whether Lizzie did in fact kill her father and stepmother takes a backseat to the why. What were the Bordens confronting that now has all of Fall River under its grip? The story is told in the format of a series of dispatches. Both Borden sisters' diary entries, the diary of Lizzie's actress lover, the medical journal of the town doctor (their last remaining confidante), the rapidly deteriorating records of a Miskatonic University professor, and a smattering of other sources all contribute to the fluid narration. When all is said and done, you won't look at the ocean or its strange inhabitants the same again.
Lizzie needed an outfit that projected her staid exterior while giving her the mobility she needed to tend to her ailing sister, conduct her crucial research and wield her infamous axe. Sturdy boots and comfortable, yet respectable, clothing are set off with some accessories with more personality. A scarf to ward off a chill sea breeze or tie her hair back features some beautiful and terrifying jellyfish. The jellyfish earrings will seem much more unnerving after you read Maplecroft, I promise. I couldn't let her leave home without her trusty weapon, either, embedded here on a simple and striking silver ring.
If you're looking for a fresh horror novel, pick this one up!