Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Reader, I Murdered Him by Betsy Cornwell


GODDAMN. This book is everything I want out of the YA genre. Richly atmospheric, darkly feminist, with a sexy queer romance between two girls who are tired of men being shits. READER, I MURDERED HIM is a Jane Eyre retelling told from the POV of Jane and Edward's adopted daughter, Adele, and it's an interpretation I've never seen before and didn't know I needed.

Adele in this book is the daughter of a prostitute. When she comes to Thornfield, she is haunted by the ghostly appearance of Bertha, and the sickly, miasmic influence of the house's sinister influence. When she's shipped off to an all girls' boarding school, that's when she comes into her own and learns not just the value of female friendship, but also the harsh truths of inequality in the world, and how men use and abuse their privilege to take advantage of vulnerable women. Obviously, this means triggers for everything from SA to homophobia, but I thought the author handled everything really well, and Adele always had agency.

And that twist at the end, OH MY GOD.

I had chills.

This is a vigilante story but it's a really good one. The story isn't as heavy-handed as I first feared it might be (I thought it was going to be edgy-for-the-sake-of-edgy). There were so many passages that I wanted to highlight the shit out of. If you like dark coming-of-age stories, chaotic queer women, and strong female protagonists, you'll love this book. I'm honestly shocked that this has such low ratings, because the writing and story were everything. This is the third Jane Eyre retelling that I've read this week and as much as I love the source material, I loved this interpretation.

My only qualm is that the epigrams with lyrics from modern pop songs are so cheesy and really ruin the atmosphere of the book. As much as I love the artists, Brandi Carlile, Beyonce, and Kate Bush have no business being in a Victorian novel.

I'll be recommending this book to everyone I know, and you can bet I'll be checking out this author's other books.

4.5 to 5 out of 5 stars

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