Birmingham, Alabama is infested with malevolence. Prejudice and hatred have consumed the minds and hearts of its populace. A murderer, unimaginatively named “Harry the Hacker” by the press, has been carving up citizens with a hatchet. And from the church known as Chapelwood, an unholy gospel is being spread by a sect that worships dark gods from beyond the heavens.

This darkness calls to Lizzie Borden. It is reminiscent of an evil she had dared hoped was extinguished. The parishioners of Chapelwood plan to sacrifice a young woman to summon beings never meant to share reality with humanity. An apocalypse will follow in their wake which will scorch the earth of all life.

Unless she stops it…
(From the book jacket.)

Another mystical adventure for Lizzie Borden, another great read for us! I had a harder time losing myself in this one, for a few reasons, but it was still an excellent adventure. I really enjoy the multiple points of view and epistolary style she writes these books in.

The stumbling blocks: for most of the book, the antagonists are Klansmen and members of an even scarier group calling themselves the “True Americans”–and as we are still infested with that sort of xenophobic, racist, “‘Murica for ‘Muricans!” mentality today, it kept pulling me out to the story and into current events. Of course, there are tentacled creatures from the depths of space working to invade our reality, as well, and when we finally got around to axing the creeps, it was very satisfying.

The choice to set the book 30 years after the first one, and to specify that Lizzie hadn’t experienced any otherworldly weirdness in the meantime, was disappointing. I had the hope that we were in for a whole series of Lizzie Borden, Monster Slayer, but the time gap precludes that, and the end of the book suggests we may have seen the last of Lizzie’s adventures.

The upsides: while Lizzie is more on the sidelines in this book, she is still a kick-ass character, quite literally, and it was great to see her in action again. And if she has gone to a more restful place, well, I can’t begrudge her that. She’s suffered enough.

The delightful Inspector Simon Wolf is back, and while the door may have closed on Lizzie, there are hints of another one opening for Simon and a new protege–and if you’re going that direction, Ms. Priest, I’m coming along for the ride!

So, yes, my relationship with Chapelwood was more complicated than with Maplecroft, but it was still a great read, and a strong recommend. Fingers crossed this isn’t our last visit to the world of the Borden Dispatches!

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Image courtesy of Abigail Larson, used by permission.

Image courtesy of Abigail Larson, used by permission.

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