Thursday, May 23, 2024

Lucille: A Bluebeard Retelling by Dakotah Gumm


LUCILLE is a pretty solid gothic novella. It's a Bluebeard telling with vampires and vampire hunters, set in France. The historical details were great and I thought the author managed to capture the Victorian "style" with her narrator, Lucille, who, even though she is often TSTL, is very young and sheltered, so I could sort of tell myself that her behavior made sense. After all, she doesn't have TikTok and fake news to make her skeptical and jaded before her time.

Bluebeard is probably one of my favorite fairytales of all time so I'm always a little picky when it comes to retellings. This is a good one, although the pacing felt off. Lucille decides she loves Jakob very quickly. So quickly that when she said she did, I was like, "What?!" The ending also felt super abrupt, especially the climax, which felt like it should have been drawn out a little more to give the reader time to both dread what was happening and process going on.

Based on the blurb, this is also being branded as a dark fantasy romance, but this doesn't really feel like a dark fantasy or a romance. It feels more erotic horror or gothic paranormal. I thought maybe you could argue that it was possibly an HFN since there is a sequel but then I realized that the sequel is about another couple, so there isn't going to be a whole lot more development between these two, since it ends on a note of tragedy and manipulation. 

Overall, this was pretty solid and I do think that readers of gothic and horror fiction will enjoy it. Her follow-up novel, SONG OF THE DEMON COURT, was a lot better, so it was nice to see where she started and how much she improved-- especially when it comes to world-building details and character development.

3.5 to 4 out of 5 stars

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