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(The Borden Dispatches #1)

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  4,343 ratings  ·  927 reviews
Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks; and when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one....
The people of Fall River, Massachusetts, fear me. Perhaps rightfully so. I remain a suspect in the brutal deaths of my father and his second wife despite the verdict of innocence at my trial. With our inheritance, my sister, Emma, and I have t
Paperback, 435 pages
Published September 2nd 2014 by Roc
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Spuddie I'm currently listening to the audio of Maplecroft. It's quite different from her paranormal series (which I loved, also.) This is not humorous and no…moreI'm currently listening to the audio of Maplecroft. It's quite different from her paranormal series (which I loved, also.) This is not humorous and not modern, it's kind of written in classic gothic horror style, but it is very well done. Not my usual fare either, but I am very much enjoying this so far.(less)

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Nov 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
I've been hearing good things about this book for a long while now, and having just finished it, I have to say I wasn't disappointed.

The book is set in the 1890's. The primary character is Lizzy Borden. Genre-wise it's somewhere between urban fantasy, historical fiction, mystery, and Lovecraftian horror.

It's a cool, unique concept for a book.

A few comments on the novel, in no particular order.

1. I listened to this on Audio, and because of that, I'm going to have a different experience from the
Nov 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really enjoy Cherie Priest's work, and this is no exception. It's a reinvention of Lizzie Borden as a bit of a Supernatural heroine. There's a lesbian love story involved too. Lots of great lady characters and super creepy horror. I really enjoyed it and if you're an urban fantasy fan, this is a nice twist on that genre! Stand-alone I believe though! ...more
Wendy Darling
3.5 stars I liked this, but it felt overly long, and could have used better pacing. It's also kind of weird to essentially rewrite what we know of history to recast a murderer as a heroine. At first glance it seems like a Abe Lincoln, Vampire Slayer-type mash-up, but it's really closer to the idea of giving Jack the Ripper good reasons, albeit supernatural reasons, to commit his gruesome crimes. I also wish we'd spent more time on the actual Borden murders--everyone here seems to avoid talking a ...more
Dec 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, lovecrafty
The horror elements were decent, but not very original -- Lovecraft by way of Caitlín R. Kiernan, and nowhere close to as creepy as either.

Didn't particularly care for any of the characters, but they were moderately developed. Didn't see any reason besides name recognition for the use of a real historical figure. The romance was weak, mostly because Nance was so unappealing and the grounding of the relationship never explained.

Wolf and his organization, which was the most intriguing part (aside
Caro the Helmet Lady
And here a naggy rant comes, as promised, but no worries, it ain't gonna be too bad. It's not like I hated the book, not at all. But...

There might be minor spoilers, just so you know. ;)

I'm giving it a solid 3 stars, but I had to force myself to finish it, it's true. I guess I set my expectations too high, because it started off so very well. Ah, dear brothers and sisters in shadows of tombs, just think about it - historical figure, and quite ambiguous one - Lizzie Borden herself, in lovecraftia
Althea Ann
Aug 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Up front: I'm adding a star for personal reasons. I was born in Fall River, and as an older child, moved to Providence, so a Lovecraftian Lizzie Borden tale feels like it was created just for me!

'Maplecroft' begins after Lizzie has been legally exonerated for the axe murders of her parents, although suspicion in town still rides high against her. She lived a somewhat isolated life, caring for her frail and sickly sister, Emma. Their main "social" contact is with Emma's doctor. Aside from her quo
Maja (The Nocturnal Library)
Most of us are at least vaguely familiar with the story of Lizzie Andrew Borden, a young woman accused of killing her father and her stepmother with an axe in 1892 and subsequently acquitted. The murders remain a mystery to this day – while Lizzie was released, no one else was ever accused and she remained the prime suspect, at least in the eyes of the community.

Despite being ostracized by her small community, Lizzie refused to leave Fall River, choosing instead to stay there in relative isolat
Sep 22, 2014 rated it did not like it
Did I really just read that? Ugh, I did.

I decided to read this book because I had a Fantasy novel itch I needed to scratch, and I took the advice of a certain ex-child actor whom I follow on Goodreads and picked it up. My own distaste aside, I will attempt to give an objective review of the book (not).

There are two separate issues to address: the rather inexplicable plot and the clumsily crafted characters with their corresponding "themes." Ms. Priests' prose, while not exactly breathtaking, i
ᴥ Irena ᴥ
I understand all the reasons some readers have for not liking this book, but as for me it is like Cherie Priest took a lot of things I don't like (foreshadowing), a lot of those I do, and mashed them all together creating one compact and great story.

In Maplecroft nobody knows the truth about the notorious Lizzy Borden and the murders of her father and stepmother. She is not a murderess unless you consider monster killings murders. Andrew Borden and his wife started to change and Lizzy was forced
Christine PNW
Sep 02, 2016 rated it liked it
What did I just read?

I sort of liked this book. I love historical fiction & the setting of this one, 1890's Massachusetts, was pleasing. I enjoyed the epistolary format as well, with the different voices of the various characters.

But, on the other hand, I don't really get it. Maybe because I've never read Lovecraft, and this is supposed to be Lovecraftian mythology (Chthulhu, I think).

The ending was the biggest disappointment for me. I really didn't understand the resolution at all. I know th
Before you read too much of my blather, the gist of this review will be that this book was Not For Me. Those two stars mean, "not to my tastes or preferences," not "this book is very flawed and here's why." The review might still be of interest for you for the purposes of finding out if the book might be For You.

Maplecroft is an epistolary novel that posits the what if of: What if Lizzie Borden famously murdered her parents for a good reason? And what if that reason was sea monsters? The book pi
colleen the convivial curmudgeon

I admit that I went into this book with some hesitation. I was interested in the plot - the idea of Lizzie Borden's (alleged) murder of her parents being of supernatural causes which are still threatening the town - sounded right up my alley. But I had read a previous work by Priest, Boneshaker, but I was less than impressed.

That said, I had heard some good things and was interesting in the material enough to give it a go. All I can say is Cherie Priest is officially off my 'authors to read'
Mike (the Paladin)
I finished this one a couple of nights ago and I've been (on and off) considering what to rate it. Many of you will "love" this book and I'm sure others will like it much more than I did. I have to go with a "not bad". This is a sort of down the middle rating between like and...blah.

The problem for me is what others will probably like best. This is an epistolary novel and we get a view primarily from Emma Borden's point of view though "Lizzie's" viewpoint also comes in as do others.

The plus si
This is pretty good. It is actually a cut above some of Priest's other work, not that Priest's other work is bad. It isn't. But this is better than the later Clockwork Century books. The novel concerns what "really" happened during Lizzie Borden's post-murder accusation career. It concerns freaky things that are connected to water. It's actually scary than Jaws. The book wins hands down in terms of atmosphere.

The story is told from different points of view via different dispatches from various
I like Cherie Priest's ideas a lot, and even the writing when it works for me -- Bloodshot and Hellbent being books I totally adore. I like her characters, the way she picks people who other writers might overlook: the working mother of Boneshaker, the neurotic vampire and her found family of Hellbent, and here, Lizzie Borden -- yes, that one. She takes the two Bordens and makes them heroines, tries to change your perspective on the murder of the Borden parents, makes them women of learning and ...more
Paige  Bookdragon
Apr 07, 2015 marked it as to-read
When mom wouldn't let me buy this because I already reached my book quota for the week..

Dark Faerie Tales
Aug 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales (

Quick & Dirty: Lizzie Borden may be guilty of killing her parents, but only she and her sister know why she did it. Despite a slow start, this ended up being a captivating and addictive read.

Opening Sentence: No one else is allowed in the cellar.

The Review:

Everyone in the town of Fall River knows the story of Lizzie Borden, and everyone likes to think they know what actually happened. However, only Lizzie and her sister Emma know
Jack +Books & Bourbon+
Jan 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
So what do you get when Cherie Priest decides, in her infinite writerly wisdom, that she wants to combine two seemingly disparate tales into one fantastic and imaginative stew? You get Maplecroft, a surprisingly effective blend of Borden history and the mythos established by the great H.P. Lovecraft. It's a combination I would not expected to work as well as it does, and in another author's hands, it could have turned out to be something quite awful. But Cherie Priest is a master of making histo ...more
Heidi Ward
If somebody told you they were reading a book in which Lizzie Borden fights Lovecraftian horrors with her infamous axe, you might snicker a little. You might think, "Oh, great. Another historical fiction gag a la Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. Special." I've been awaiting Maplecroft's release for a long while now, mainly on the strength of Cherie Priest's general badassery, but also because for a historical horror and Lovecraft/ian junkie, that's actually an impossible pitch to resist. ...more
Jun 30, 2014 rated it liked it
3.5 Priest’s talent is evident from the action scenes to the voice she gives her characters setting a tone of madness, desperation, fear and darkness. From the beginning, we get a sense of the wrongness around Falls River and slowly we along with the character's piece together and being to understand, although neither they nor we will ever fully understand what has occurred. Lizzie is an unexpected hero in all of this. She is an axe wielding, intelligent woman who with the aid of Emma has set up ...more
May 31, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 1-star
I received this book as an ARC from Penguin Publishing at BookCon 2014...and let me first point out that I have absolutely nothing against Cherie Priest or her writing! When the woman working at Penguin told me that this was a historical fiction book, I was automatically a little weary because I find it extremely hard to get into those kinds of books.

I'm also an incredibly squeamish person, so the gore really wasn't helping me out all that much. I absolutely despise quitting books. I can't do it
Mar 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, gothic
"Fall River is going to hell, one man at a time. One woman. One child."

If you think you know the story of Lizzie Borden and why she may or may not have murdered her father and step-mother with an axe in 1892, you may want to reconsider. Cherie Priest has written one humdinger of a gothic horror story here. At the center is Lizzie, of course, her older sister, Emma, and the large home they share, Maplecroft (which is what Lizzie actually dubbed their home in real life). The story has a bit of a s
Anna Kay
Feb 26, 2016 rated it liked it
I'M DISAPPOINTED. I was all into it, but then about twenty pages from the end I started getting confused about how she could possibly end it satisfactorily. Answer -- she DIDN'T. I feel like throwing it against the wall and giving it one goddamn star, but I can't dismiss how invested I was from about 1/3 of the way in, till I realized that it was all a SETUP FOR THE FRICKIN SEQUEL!!! Urgh! *facepalm* ...more
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was basically the perfect Lovecraftian narrative; creeping horror, startling gore, insidious madness juxtaposed with outright violent lunacy, and told entirely in letters. I'd thought I was getting a bit jaded as far as Lovecraftian-inspired tales were concerned but this was excellent. The ending was *slightly* anticlimactic but not enough to spoil it, and anyone whining that a "Cthulhu vs Lizzie showdown" never happens is...ill-informed. It would be pointless, as would literally everything ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
This is a fun read! It is full of explicit scenes of horrific gore, but it also introduces a reimagined Lizzie Borden as warrior and hero, giving an alternate reason for her ax expertise.

I was reminded of 19th century gothic romances by the book’s construction. Each character keeps a journal and the chapters alternate between several people writing of their lives, adventures and feelings. But while the basic style is a reminder of the Victorian manners of earlier authors writing for ‘penny drea
Sep 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: weird
The question is not "What is wrong?"

A closer query would be "What is different?" or "What is changing?"

Something is changing. Something is shifting, or slipping. I want to ask if I'm losing my mind, but who would answer? How on earth can I step outside my brain and ask it to evaluate, with all fairness, its effectiveness as a body-governing device?

It might only lie to me. How would I know?

What if.........

What if Lizzie Borden really did take an axe and kill her father and stepmother?

And w
Sep 02, 2014 rated it liked it

Mon avis en Français

My English review

I was curious to discover the novel since its release but it’s true that I really tried it now with the release of the second volume. I must say that I was anxious to see what the author had managed to feature with two well-known characters such as Emma and Lizzy Borden.

The novel is divided into various sections that allow us to follow different protagonists throughout history and so have some varied POVs. Yet more particularly, we follow the two sist
Beth Cato
May 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical, 2015, horror
There was a lot of buzz around this book. The concept is quite bold: Lizzie Borden gone Lovecraft. I found it slow to start. The build up is gradual and creepy. This is real, old-fashioned horror. It doesn't dwell too much on the gore, but the atmosphere is what gets you. You know things in Fall River are going to hell. Perhaps literally.

The story is told in letter form, mostly between Lizzie, her sister Emma, their Doctor, and then a scattering of other characters. The relationship of Lizzie an
Mar 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
I tried and tried, put the book down, came back and tried and tried again to no avail. I could not get into this book at all. After getting half way into the book and at my wits end, I wondered if perhaps it was just me. I looked through some reviews and found it was not just me. Though many people loved this book, many others found it boring, just plain blah.
I felt the story jumped around so much, speaking from different characters minds throughout the story and this confused me most of all. I
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Pages read: 72

To be fair, Maplecroft seems like it's pretty excellent, but it's not my style. There are a lot of perspectives, and the only one I'm at all interested in is Lizzie's. Plus, I'm finding it deeply annoying that I've yet to learn much about the infamous murders, considering that those are a huge part of what draw you to a story about Lizzie Borden.

The fantastical horror elements seem really cool. Unfortunately, it's too slow in between bouts of monster fighting. Without a real attach
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Cherie Priest is the author of two dozen books and novellas, most recently The Toll, The Family Plot, The Agony House, and the Philip K. Dick Award nominee Maplecroft; but she is perhaps best known for the steampunk pulp adventures of the Clockwork Century, beginning with Boneshaker. Her works have been nominated for the Hugo and Nebula awards for science fiction, and have won the Locus Award (amo ...more

Other books in the series

The Borden Dispatches (2 books)
  • Chapelwood (The Borden Dispatches, #2)

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“Jackson," he mused. "Not a name either one of you was born to."

Lizzie answered, "No. But beyond a certain point, names become accessories. We swap them out as needed, for the sake of peace. You understand?"

"I understand. Though I disagree. Names aren't hats to change a look, or a suit to be swapped at a whim. Words mean things."

"Then we must agree to disagree.”
“Last century’s magic is this year’s science.” 6 likes
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