Maplecroft, by Cherie Priest

Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.

Lizzie Borden is a woman trying to do her best, but it’s not easy. Her older sister, Emma, is slowly dying of consumption (best known nowadays as tuberculosis). Her parents are dead from a brutal murder. The other residents of Fall River shun the Borden sisters, believing that Lizzie, though acquitted in a court of law, killed her parents in cold blood.

Which she did, in fact, do. But in her defense, they had become a bit…weird. After the trial, Lizzie and her sister moved across town to a large, semi-secluded house known as Maplecroft. It has plenty of space for Emma’s scientific research (though she has to publish under a male pseudonym, because it’s 1893 and society still believed women had no business getting involved in all that book-learnin’. So not too different from now, come to think of it. Anyway.) There’s even room for a giant tank of boiling lye under the cellar floor so Lizzie can easily dispose of the bodies of the things that keep showing up outside Maplecroft at night. Things; creatures; disgusting slimy blind wet things with glassy, needle-sharp teeth. Things like what the senior Bordens had become before Lizzie handled them. But the things keep showing up, and keep showing up, and it’s getting harder for Lizzie to keep up. And the other townspeople are starting to go strange, too…

Imagine if your loved ones were slowly changing into the revoltingly batrachian Deep Ones before your very eyes. Imagine if you knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that they’d come for you next. And imagine if, with a few quick blows of an axe, you could save yourself and what’s left of your family. Maybe, just maybe, we’ve been viewing Lizzie Borden all wrong. Give her a chance to tell her side of the story–read Maplecroft and see if Lizzie Borden is still a villain, or instead is just a maligned, reluctant hero desperate to save herself, her sister, and her home.

This is a brilliant book, a horror novel in the best traditions of HP Lovecraft.

Favorite Line:

If I had any sense, I’d relocate to the desert or the mountains, and be done with this whole business once and for all.

Don’t read if: you have a problem with doctors, axes, mysterious people working for shadowy government organizations, or Massachusetts.