Sunday, September 17, 2023

Death of a Schoolgirl by Joanna Campbell Slan


So I'm doing this project where I'm reading every Jane Eyre retelling I can find (that is in my budget), and when I found this cozy mystery Jane Eyre retelling on Kindle Unlimited, I dropped everything and picked it right the fuck up. Here's what I'm learning about this project: I'm not a purist. I know how the original story goes because I've read the original story and when I pick up a retelling, I'm not expecting a reprise. All I want is something that pays homage to the original but has its own special take on the characters I know and love.

That said, DEATH OF A SCHOOLGIRL does all that and more. It's more of a direct sequel than others I have read. Jane has just given birth to her and Edward's birth son and they're wondering how Adele is going to take not being their only child, because she's been strange and uncommunicative in her letters from boarding school. Then, one day, they get a letter from her begging them to save her, which contains strange threats written in someone else's hand.

Obviously, that freaks them out and after some discussion, Jane leaves Edward and her new baby behind to go to London and find out what's going on with Adele. On the way she's robbed, and due to a series of unforeseen circumstances, she kind of accidentally-on-purpose lets the headmistress think that she's the girls' new German teacher, because right away, it's clear that the vibe of the school is O F F. Why? Because someone was just murdered.

I saw some reviewers saying that the killer was obvious. Call me a dunce, because I did not guess. I wasn't really trying to guess, though. Mostly I was just along for the vibes. After so many retellings that turned Edward into a bad person, it was fun to read one where his passion and intensity remained, but he was softened by his relationship with Jane and his entree into fatherhood. I also liked how Jane had full agency in this book and got to play at being a detective for two weeks. She was very self-contained and clever in the original, so it actually made sense to see her apply those skills towards assisting in a murder investigation. After watching A Haunting in Venice, I wanted more period piece murders, so this was literally EXACTLY what my mood-reading self wanted.

Was this book perfect? No. But it was incredibly fun and was a nice piece of public domain fanfiction to read and enjoy, and I thought it did a great job staying true to the original characters.

4.5 to 5 out of 5 stars

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