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Seventeen-year-old Lizzie Borden has never been kissed. Polite but painfully shy, Lizzie prefers to stay in the kitchen, where she can dream of becoming a chef and escape her reality. With tyrannical parents who force her to work at the family’s B&B and her blackout episodes—a medical condition that has plagued her since her first menstrual cycle—Lizzie longs for a life of freedom, the time and space to just figure out who she is and what she wants.

Enter the effervescent, unpredictable Bridget Sullivan. Bridget has joined the B&B’s staff as the new maid, and Lizzie is instantly drawn to her artistic style and free spirit—even her Star Wars obsession is kind of cute. The two of them forge bonds that quickly turn into something that’s maybe more than friendship.

But when her parents try to restrain Lizzie from living the life she wants, it sparks something in her that she can’t quite figure out. Her blackout episodes start getting worse, her instincts less and less reliable. Lizzie is angry, certainly, but she also feels like she’s going mad…

320 pages, Hardcover

First published April 10, 2018

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About the author

Dawn Ius

21 books106 followers
DAWN IUS is a short-story author, novelist, screenwriter, professional editor, and communications specialist. She is the author of three contemporary young adult novels published by Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster)—Anne & Henry, Overdrive, and the forthcoming Lizzie, April 2018, as well as 15 educational graphic novels for the Alberta Canola Producers Commission, and a TV script for the forthcoming animated Nickolodeon show, Rainbow Rangers.

Dawn is the Deputy Editor of the e-magazine published by The International Thriller Writers organization, The Big Thrill, and a book coach and development editor with Author Accelerator.

Dawn also writes young adult paranormal fiction under the last name DALTON. Her short story, THREAD OF THE PAST was included in the SPIRITED anthology (Leap Books, 2012), and her novel, KILLER’S INSTINCT (Leap Books, 2013), co-written with Judith Graves, was nominated for the Silver Falchion award. As well, her short story DRUNK was published in an Alice-in-Wonderland-inspired anthology, FALLING FOR ALICE, April 2015, by Vine Leaves Press.

When not slaying fictional monsters, Dawn can be found geeking out over fairy tales, Jack Bauer, Halloween, muscle cars, and all things that go bump in the night. Dawn lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and their two giant breed dogs.

She is represented by Mandy Hubbard at Emerald City Literary Agency.

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5 stars
83 (16%)
4 stars
108 (21%)
3 stars
150 (29%)
2 stars
106 (21%)
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55 (10%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 126 reviews
Profile Image for ana.
105 reviews
Want to read
September 10, 2017
did ryan and shane from buzzfeed unsolved write this book
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,709 reviews703 followers
March 26, 2018
I am 100% on board for a Lizzie Borden book and I was so excited to read this, sadly I was quite disappointed.

I read to 45% before I skipped to 80% and read the rest.

Lizzie was an interesting character. She’s got a horrible family life and is trying to be what she needs to be to everyone. There’s an unreliable narrator aspect to this story that was the main reason I kept going.

Plot wise, it was weird. I don’t know if some of the problem was the formatting of the e-arc or an intentional attempt at mindfuckery, but it was a struggle. It felt extremely disjointed and for me, it didn’t accentuate or add tension. And there’s a weird repetition thing that keeps happening throughout. The swipe swipe swipe, blink blink blink, drop drop drops got really old really fast.

Overall, it had a lot of potential. I liked the move into modern times, but definitely wanted more out of it, especially at the end. However, this is a retelling subject I would love to see more of.

**Huge thanks to Simon Pulse for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Amy Leigh.
327 reviews38 followers
May 29, 2018
This book just didn't do it for me. The writing was rudimentary and that was really the YA part of it. I had trouble discerning what was actually happening and that really bothered me. I was so excited when I saw this book was coming out because a modern day Lizzie Borden book sounds fantastic! but it wasn't anything like what I expected. It was more about her crush on the new maid and her fighting against her beliefs.

I think if this story had been told by several POVs with cohesive writing that flows and pulls everything together it would have been much more enjoyable. I really liked that a love story was added in but I wish it had been woven in to the historical parts better. The plot itself was predictable and I wish more elements of the historical event had been present, there were basics but not enough in my opinon. The gore is intense, more intense than expected for a ya novel. I'm really glad I checked this book out from the library instead of buying it.

Profile Image for Briar's Reviews.
1,824 reviews506 followers
August 8, 2020
Lizzie by Dawn Ius is a unique YA take on the Lizzie Borden murders.

I was super intrigued by this book and ridiculously excited to see it show up in my mailbox. I really like reading into weird mysteries and seeing new takes on them. Seeing a YA book about it made me even more curious, because YA is such an interesting area of books and the books written for this group tend to go one of two ways.

I found this book rather boring and weird, which made me quite sad. The premise of this book sounded so good and so interesting: We follow Lizzie Borden as she lives with her dysfunctional family and meets a lovely young woman who she is potentially falling in love with. And then tragedy strikes.

I've heard the tale many a times about Lizzie, so I really wanted this book to be a cool and unique take on the story. There was so much going for it, but I think the facilitation of it just didn't hit me right. I wanted to DNF it, but I also really wanted to support a great Canadian author. So I stuck through it, and it took quite a while.

There was tension and sadness and despair, but the plot just felt random. It was a bit jumpy and didn't catch my attention. I think with some fine tuning, this book could do really well for it's audience. I almost wanted more points of views or less jumps. It was sitting in the middle, which just didn't do it for me. With so much rich history behind this story, I think there was a lot that could have been added to give it the 'umph' that this book needed. With all of that in mind, it was just too slow for me. It didn't keep my attention, which is what I'm looking for as a reader.

I think this book is going to be quite the niche book for it's readers. Either you will love it or hate it, and that's okay! Some books are just like that.

One out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.
Profile Image for Gemma ♕ Bookish Gems.
479 reviews219 followers
January 16, 2019
I didn't really like this.

It was very slow and dragged out the story way too much in my opinion. It took so long to get to the actual event and by that time I'd lost interest. The event itself and the trial was basically a footnote and was so rushed.

I figured out the plot twist and had to wait for over 200 pages for it to be revealed. I was bored and frustrated at the constant hints because it was so glaringly obvious.

The writing style was also something I didn't like. I really don't like the whole repeating words or 'lots of words that mean the same thing one after the other' writing device, and both of those were used a lot in this book. For example swipe, swipe, swipe is used everywhere and it was irritating. There was also scratch, scratchy, scratch used way more than was needed. The other device would be something like, and this is not a direct quote, I wanted to hug, hold, squeeze her. I don't mind this now and again but it felt like I saw this too much.

This is not the lesbian!Lizzie Borden I was looking for and felt like I was being promised. To started with it felt like instalove but the romance is part of the twist and once you know the twist, the whole relationship feels like nothing. You are never invested.

I've been looking forward to this for so long. It's January 15th and I'm already pretty sure this is going to be my disappointment of the year. *sigh*
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps .
2,304 reviews220 followers
April 16, 2018
I’ve been a Lizzie Borden buff since I saw the Elizabeth Montgomery movie when I was 11 back in 1975. I’ve read probably a dozen nonfiction books, watched the miniseries and movies, I even stayed in the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast in Fall River, Massachusetts, in Lizzie’s own bedroom. Here’s a link to my Facebook photo album https://www.facebook.com/amyfeld/medi... .

I couldn’t wait to read Dawn Ius’s LIZZIE a modern take on the true story of Lizzie Borden who was tried and found not guilty for the hatchet murders of her father and stepmother. Many thought Lizzie got away with murder because the all male jury couldn’t imagine a woman committing such a brutal murder. Though found not guilty, Lizzie became persona non grata in Fall River. She was said to have an affair with New York actress Nance O’Neill.

In Ius’s version, LIZZIE is mentally ill and repeatedly threatened with hospitalization. In the story took place in the late nineteenth century, when the murders happened, institutionalization could be a real threat on the say so of a male family member. In modern times, committing someone against her will is much more difficult. Psych hospitals do little more than triage.

Ius chose to make the real life maid Bridget a love interest for Lizzie, but she was actually a delusion. Other creative liberties included mensural dysphoria causing violent blackouts and Catholicism being an issue in the family. It’s too bad the real life Bordens were likely Calvinists and they attended the Central Congregational Church, a form of Protestantism.

The murder trial should have been one of the highlights of the book, and Ius barely mentioned it.

LIZZIE is the most disappointing book I’ve read in a long time. Skip it. The real life version is much better. Even the lesbian storyline is a delusion.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jay G.
1,229 reviews464 followers
June 26, 2019
Want to see more bookish things from me? Check out my youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfer...

Lizzie Borden is struggling with the mental and physical abuse her father and step-mother inflict on her daily while working at her family's Bed & Breakfast as the cook. That's when the new maid, Bridget Sullivan enters her life and everything changes.

I was originally very excited for a modern day Lizzie Borden retelling with a gay twist but was ultimately disappointed with this book. The book was very slow and very predictable, I was able to call the big 'plot twist' VERY early on and was let down when I was correct. I did end up reading the book in one sitting though, but I was not a fan of the writing style and the repetition of words throughout. I was disappointed that the murder and trial were only about 20 pages of this 319 page novel... I would have liked it to be a bigger part to the story.
Profile Image for Kasha's Book Sematary.
630 reviews267 followers
December 29, 2019
Unfortunately I didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. I have always been fascinated with the Lizzie Borden case and decided to give this modern interpretation a go.

I appreciated the diversity brought into the story and while I can see where the author was going with this, it all felt a bit messy.

The insta love moment and the weird jumps from one situation to the next without really letting the situation develop or conclude felt unnatural and made it hard to connect with any of the characters.
July 16, 2018
Anyone who has followed my blog for any length of time knows I have a small obsession with Lizzie Borden. So when I saw a new YA book coming out about her, I knew I'd have to grab it. A lot of us already know the tale of Lizzie and this one is basically the same. However, it's an updated version and Ius added some modern flair. For example, Lizzie wants nothing more desperately to be the next Emeril Lagasse and is always cooking and creating new dishes for her father and step-father's bed and breakfast. Also, while the relationship with her sister Em is explored, it isn't as much in the forefront as some of the other retellings I've read.

It's no real secret that many believe Lizzie went on in her life to have relationships with other women. And I know a lot of people were excited to see Ius openly explore Lizzie this. However, there is a twist involved and to be honest, I saw it coming early on in the book which was kind of a letdown. Also, considering we know Lizzie's parents end up dead (if I spoiled this, I'm sorry but I figure everyone who wants to read this book knows the song and the tale), it takes FOREVER for this to happen. Then once it does, it all resolves itself in the next 3 chapters.

Lizzie Borden clearly suffered from abuse and mental health issues. I don't doubt for a minute that she killed her parents but I think were it to occur now, she would be found not guilty by reason of insanity. Ius follows a lot of the actual facts of the incident, while also adding her own spin which makes it an entertaining read for a new generation.
Profile Image for Kate.
2,048 reviews78 followers
February 2, 2018
I can't pass up a Lizzie Borden tale! Dawn Ius drags Lizzie into the present, makes her 18 and working as a cook for her family's Bed and Breakfast (which makes me chuckle, since the real Borden house is an actual B&B now). Lizzie is struggling with both the physical and mental abuse she endures from her father and stepmother, and a poorly treated medical condition (physical and mental). Her older sister Emma is off at college, and Lizzie is stuck making meat loaf and watching Emeril Largesse on her tablet (Bam!). Her life gets both better and worse with the arrival of a new maid. Bridget is a free spirit, and Lizzie is drawn to her, which causes her even more confusion because of her strict religious upbringing. The tension in the house is suffocating, and neither Lizzie nor the reader can tell what's real and what's fantasy. I liked the idea of modern Lizzie, but Lizzie's condition and the is-she-or-isn't-mentally-unwell wasn't as well fleshed out as I hoped it would be. But that said, I really liked meat loaf making Lizzie, and was rooting for her to go ahead and give her dad and step mom son whacks!

*Historically, I DO think Lizzie Borden killed her dad and step mom. I used to think it was unfair that she got away with it, partly because a woman was considered too frail to weild such deadly force), but the truth is, there's just not enough concrete evidence. I think it was fair to find her not guilty... but she totally did it.
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 7 books1,211 followers
February 1, 2018
The writing is a little over-the-top and the liberties taken here a bit absurd, but I sure did read this in about one sitting. A lot of the details about Lizzie's life are correct, and then for fun, she's queer here and . It's totally obvious from the beginning but....I didn't stop.

I'd recommend for readers who like ridiculous and don't want to go in for something serious/a fictional take on reality, since this is far more fictional and fantastical than real.
Profile Image for Ari Elaine.
73 reviews24 followers
October 28, 2017
4.5 stars

Okay, I liked this book a lot! I loved the writing and just overall the general plot. It was interesting to see Lizzie Borden in a modern day world! My only problem with it tbh is sometimes the setting got really confusing??? Plus I felt the author kinda skimped out on the ending?????? Which lowkey sucked, but I highly recommend this book!!!

Profile Image for Wendy.
985 reviews69 followers
October 21, 2018
I picked this up at the library to preview for my classes, because kids are always asking for more scary books. It wasn't truly scary to the end, and while LIzzie's voice is compelling and I felt terrible for her, I was frustrated by the vagueness surrounding her illness. There's also a twist that I anticipated from the first chapter, having read too many books with this particular twist.
Profile Image for Kali.
7 reviews
April 26, 2018
To start out, this is not based in the 1800s and is modernized. I can get past this in some cases, but if you can write a tale about the 1800s, take the opportunity presented to you. The actual Lizzie Borden lived during that time period, and what I know from actually selling these books is that writing anything based in her actual time period - sells better. This will not be one of my recommendations. I sell to teenagers and although I sincerely believe that they can get their hands on a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey, the sexual desires presented are one of the main focuses of this book. It seems deviant to say the least, making her relationship with the “hot young maid” one to be drooled over and fantasized about. It happens far too much in literature that young lesbians are a source of sexual enjoyment rather than a buildable relationship. The best parts of the story were shadowed by this cringe worthy relationship developing like “insta-love”.

I believe the author also thought it would be “authentic” to keep having her characters make Star Wars references, especially the good-looking maid Bridget. Let’s not forget how quirky it is to have a hot nerd in your storyline.

Even the goriest quotes in the book are overshadowed by Lizzie’s infatuation with Bridget and her sexual behavior. They present religion pretty early into the story too, being it that even in real life Lizzie was a right hand to the pastor. This relatively demonized their relationship in a way - the adults only seeing it as a sin and Lizzie herself making it into some kind of fetish. Lesbians can have actual connections without sticking their tongues down each others throats, and I’m sick of authors like this making them into some kind of soft porn fetish.

Cringe-worthy writing aside, the menstrual condition Lizzie suffered was news to me. With my love for researching everything peculiar, Lizzie Borden has been a specimen under my microscope before and I may have overlooked anything that spoke of her passing out / blacking out as a result to having her monthly cycle. It would have made for a much more interesting story had it focused on her psychosis and not on her budding teenage relationship.

The darkness of the real tale of Lizzie Borden was sucked dry by this novel. I will admit to skipping to the end because I could not bear it anymore. The language was great and the dialogue was acceptable, but the plot was so CRINGEY LIKE STOP. Please read if you want to vomit just a little. I will not be sharing my copy with anyone but the dusty shelf it will go on.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Lauren.
184 reviews2 followers
July 24, 2018
“Oh yay, a queer book about Lizzie Borden, so we’ll get some murder but also some girls making out!”

This is what I thought. And yes. There is murder. And there’s girls making out. But the overall message that comes out of this book is *not* positive, and it actually rather suggests that loving a girl can make you crazy. Like, so crazy you murder your dad and stepmom with a hatchet.

Spoilers ahead.

So Lizzie has a condition where she blacks out when she gets her period. She also has a ton of anxiety because her dad is physically abusive and her stepmom is emotionally abusive. She’s super active in her Catholic church. Enter Bridget: a beautiful bi Irish girl who immediately takes a liking to Lizzie, and the feeling is mutual. Bridget does her best to stay out of dad and stepmom’s way because yeah, they’re awful. We see some cute times with Lizzie and Bridget, and it’s lovely and gay. But then Lizzie’s anxiety starts making her a little crazy. She feels guilty for her feelings for Bridget because “God Doesn’t Like Gays.” She starts to have regular blackouts, and she even kills some pigeons that she was otherwise trying to protect. There are quite a few psychotic episodes, really, and they are quite horrifying. And then Bridget breaks up with Lizzie, who thinks “I am not enough. She doesn’t say it aloud, but God’s voice whispers over my shoulder, reminding me of my broken vows, the sins I have committed for which I have yet to repent. I don’t deserve someone like Bridget. I am not worthy. I am tainted, damaged goods, just like Father has always said.” And then after Bridget breaks up with her (citing Lizzie’s psychotic episodes as cause) Lizzie blacks out and murders her dad and stepmom. Then it turns out that Bridget wasn’t even real, Lizzie just imagined her and their entire relationship.

So. Based on the timeline of events here, it’s not until after “Bridget” shows up that Lizzie’s episodes start to get really bad. She starts lying more, she steals, she kills some pigeons during a blackout, she burns her diary. She’s going through a lot of trauma, and it seems like we’re supposed to blame all of this on Bridget. She’s the catalyst, theoretically without her none of this would’ve happened. Which sends the message that “loving and lusting for a girl will make you do crazy things that you wouldn’t normally do.” Bit of a homophobic message there, Dawn. Add to that Lizzie’s constant guilt and fear about God hating her for being gay and we get another homophobic layer to this book. And in the end, Lizzie has only her sister in her life who cares for her. She doesn’t have someone who loves her for herself, and the imaginary person she did have broke up with her anyway, which implies that depression and anxiety make you unlovable. Yes, the psychotic element was definitely a major factor in the facet of Lizzie’s subconscious “breaking up with her” but it’s still a horrible thing to read, watching Lizzie fall apart the way she does.

And then Bridget isn’t even real. It’s like the ultimate “Bury Your Gays” trope. Everything Lizzie went through wasn’t real. She imagined being gay and that drove her crazy and into a murderous frenzy.

This book is too homophobic for my tastes, even if I only observed the homophobia by analyzing what’s written.
Profile Image for ava g.
60 reviews
May 13, 2018
I reserve 5 star ratings for books that leave me sitting speechless, not knowing what to do with my life, the moment I have to shut their covers.

Lizzie left me heartbroken.

Now I just read a ton of negative reviews complaining about how inaccurate it was, but the idea is that it was a FICTIONAL REIMAGINING. Neither of those words mean it has to be accurate to the real life story. Anyways though. I am a huge sucker for A) kind characters, B) misunderstood characters/characters with crappy lives they don't deserve, and C) lesbian romances. This book had all of that, plus mental illness issues, murder, and a huge, heartbreaking twist at the end.

I fell in love with Dawn Ius' version of Lizzie from the moment she began to talk about cooking. The way Ius wrote, I was truly in Lizzie's shoes, feeling the hurt of her stepmother's words, finding solace in her cooking, and finally feeling the thrill of adventure when she met Bridget. I felt the unnatural shock of her episodes right along with her; when I read about them, it didn't feel like the Lizzie I had been living through, and returning back to her was uneasy and jarring, just like how she felt. I felt her desperately attempting to swipe away all the bad thoughts, and, especially in Boston, I felt it all melt away into pure joy and euphoria when she got to run hand in hand with Bridget.

I began to suspect that Bridget wasn't real once Lizzie mentioned that none of the Boston photos turned out, but I shook it off. Then, more dread began to settle in once Andrew mentioned the citrus grater. It all slowly began to fall into place, and once that fateful line was spoken - "Who the hell is Bridget?" - it was done. From that point on, I straight up bawled for the rest of the book, from Bridget leaving to Lizzie finding the bodies to the courtroom to what she thought was Bridget's room. It was heartbreak after gut-wrenching heartbreak, all piled on top of the shimmering hope of the culinary school and the increasingly worrying episodes that had been occuring. Dawn Ius built up hope for this beautiful, pure character, while simultaneously destroying her, before finally shattering the one constant in her life, the one silver lining she had.

The real Lizzie Borden was from the 1800's - that time period always feels detached, and somewhat unreal, to me. But this Lizzie became a part of me. Ius placed my heart in hers so that, the whole time I was reading, all I wanted was for her to be okay, even though I knew what would eventually come (well, part of it). It was beautifully written - the illness, the episodes, the pain, and the whimsical love story. It all fused together into one heartbreaking novel that left me utterly speechless...and with only a scarf in a near empty drawer to attempt to patch up what had just been destroyed.
Profile Image for Mariam.
907 reviews65 followers
April 17, 2020
4.5 awesome stuff.

What I liked:

The way the book is written gave the Bordan case a new twist. I enjoyed how the prose worked with the new story; how Lizzie is a prisoner in her own family home, how her abuse is so heartwrenching that you root for her to go ahead and pick up the hatchet.

I liked the aspect of Bridget, who was everything Lizzie wanted: the freedom, the travel, the spontaneity, the light.

The writing emphasized how Lizzie's mentality felt younger than her age because of how she lacked in experiences.

Lizzie is about seventeen-year-old Lizzie Borden, who is the chef at the Borden B and B. Lizzie suffers from blackouts associated with her periods and she also suffers physical abuse at the hand of her father and mental abuse by her step-mother. This book is based on the very real story of Lizzie Borden but it takes liberties turning it contemporary and with, what I believe an excellent choice, one of the other key characters in the Borden story. I thought the writing was a key point in why I liked the book. It was very whimsical and purple prose at some points, which reflected Lizzie's mentality of wanting to escape the prison of her life and be free and buoyant. I liked this book.
Profile Image for Christina (Ensconced in Lit).
984 reviews288 followers
April 22, 2018
The subject matter of this book was interesting-- taking a YA horror slant on the tale of Lizzie Borden, which is why I picked it up in the first place. That said, it was an odd combination of historical fiction with present day that didn't quite work for me. I thought it was in the 1800s (when Lizzie really lived), because everything seemed so old fashioned. Then another character started talking about Star Wars, which was really weird for me, and took me out of the story every time this happened. I guessed the big twist in the first couple of chapters, so that detracted some. For what it was, it was otherwise well written and decently paced although it was probably longer than it had to be.
Profile Image for Crys (thehodgenator).
753 reviews72 followers
April 29, 2018
I really thought about giving this book 2 stars, but at the end the author gave me enough to make me say, "It was okay. Not great, but okay."

I think I went into this book expecting too much. I love reading re-tellings, and I really thought that's what I was going to get with this. I think I would've enjoyed it more in a not-so-modern setting. Maybe it's because I'm old fashioned about Lizzie Borden tales.

What worked for me: the development of the complicated relationship between Lizzie and her dad & step-mom; the ending.

What didn't work for me: the rest of it.

There was a lot of potential with this book, but it just did not work for me in the way I had hoped.
Profile Image for A. Hydra.
20 reviews
May 14, 2018
This third installment is one of my favorites of the whole series. They appear for the first time characters that I adore, the characters are somewhat older and Harry has someone at his side apart from his friends.
Profile Image for Melissa Flanagin.
492 reviews32 followers
April 15, 2018
3.5 stars

This is a modern retelling of the Lizzie Borden story. Very interesting.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,202 reviews24 followers
August 8, 2018
Very middle in the road for me. Review will come soon.
Profile Image for Katrina.
675 reviews30 followers
March 11, 2021
This was...something. I love the history behind Lizzie Borden. I've watched every documentary I've ever come across on her, and I've added many books to my TBR based around what happened.

I was really excited for this, but it just didn't work for me. For starters, the chapters were really disjointed. It seemed as if large time jumps were occurring between each one, and it was hard to make sense of what was happening when. I'm sure that was done to further engross the reader in Lizzie's mental illness, but that's also something that didn't work for me.

I don't think I've ever actually read anything with an unreliable narrator. And if I have, then it wasn't anything memorable. But Lizzie's illness made it so I couldn't believe anything that was happening. And it was really tough to read at some parts in all honesty.

One of my favorite things about the real story behind Lizzie Borden is that I still don't know if I think she did it. I feel like there's evidence that says there's no way she could have while at the same time there's evidence that says there's no way it could have been anyone else. It's an intriguing story. I had hoped this would add to that intrigue, but it really really didn't.

Also. The word maggot was used way too many times. If I ever read that word again, it will be too soon.
Profile Image for Sarah Marie.
1,830 reviews227 followers
September 28, 2020
3 stars. This wasn't a horrible book, but turning the Borden case into a modern story wasn't incredibly effective. It was still readable and the suspense was there, but it was more of a teen drama than a story of Lizzie's deterioration or need for survival in an abusive setting. Review to come.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
248 reviews3 followers
January 12, 2023
Okay, I knew Bridget was a figment of Lizzie’s imagination… but what happened to Isla?!?! Overall good read, probably not something I would use in class, but something I could recommend for students personal reading.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Lauren loves llamas.
815 reviews61 followers
April 11, 2018
Trigger warnings:

When I first heard there was a YA reimagining of the Lizzie Borden, I was so excited! Unfortunately, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

“What if my family is right? What if my madness can’t be controlled?”
“We’re not so different, Lizzie.”
My mouth opens in surprise. “How can you say that?”
“Because I love you,” she says, and a ghost of a smile curls up her lip. “And love is a kind of madness, isn’t it?”

Lizzie – Lizbeth – is the cook at her family’s B&B. Things are not well, though – her father and stepmother are verbally, emotionally and physically abusive, and Lizzie suffers from an issue where she passes out every month when she gets her period. Basically, her life sucks, and her only joys are cooking (she sort-of worships Emeril) and teaching at the Catholic church. The story is told in first-person POV, and Lizzie is the definition of an unreliable narrator. Since her sister Emma has left for college, things have been worse for Lizzie, but the arrival of the Star Wars-quoting new maid, Bridget, starts a new page in her life. Lizzie immediately falls in insta-love with Bridget, a world-traveling free spirit, basically everything Lizzie wishes she could be if she could get out from under her family’s thumb. But there are reasons she shouldn’t leave the B&B, good reasons that she hesitates to share with Bridget…

“My traitorous lip curls into a half smile. I push myself up onto my elbows with a grunt. Something inside of me aches. ‘Sure, and I’m Lady Báthory.’
Her head tilts toward the blood smear. ‘Maybe that’s me.’ She grins, and my stomach flips end over end. ‘I’m actually an old hag who keeps her youthful appearance by bathing in the blood of beautiful young women.'”

First off, the book is highly unsettling. It’s gory, and full of maggots, blood, and spiders. While there is some humor, it’s of the variety of the Lady Báthory joke above, grisly and weird. Besides the unreliable narrator aspect, there were some narrative quirks that got old after a few repetitions – the swipe, swipe, swipes, the tap, tap, taps. The pacing felt uneven, and I felt like the big plot twist was very obvious from the beginning. While I think the pacing could be a valid storytelling choice, it just didn’t work for me. I was, however, interested enough to keep reading until the end.

Overall, this was just not my cup of tea. I think someone who’s more into unreliable narrators, modern reimaginings of unsolved murderes, and doesn’t mind a lot of gore would enjoy this!

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Profile Image for Tayler K.
726 reviews39 followers
June 23, 2018
6/13/18: I checked this in at work a couple days ago, read the flap, and went out to my coworker quietly repeating her name over and over until she looked up and I was like "This is a modern day Lizzie Borden retelling and I think she might kill her parents because they don't want her to be gay!" I haven't read a novel in months and I got so excited about the concept of this one. I hope it'll be great!


This book was 100% a 5-star book for me. Just the flap had me so excited. I was super-intrigued by the idea of and how that would play into everything. I was thrilled and loving every page, immersed like I haven't been in anything else all year.

Until page 243.

I expected more after the murders too. Lizzie being interrogated, doctor's assessments, more info about the debate surrounding the trial, how people reacted to the verdict, something about Emma or her uncle talking/having talked to Lizzie at the courthouse or after. Got none of that.

But I still loved the first 75%. So, 4 stars.
Profile Image for Save Your Money For Books.
192 reviews21 followers
June 28, 2018
I grabbed this book at the airport during a trip last week and finished it during my flight. I was intrigued by the concept of a new fictional adaptation to the Lizzie Borden story to appeal to a modern crowd.

Lizzie is eighteen years old in this adaptation. Her parents are controlling and abusive and force her to work as a cook in their bed and breakfast. She's yearns for more, to find her place in this world. Her budding relationship with the newly hired maid Bridget gives a glimpse of the person she is inside behind the curtain of mental illness and abuse.

Lizzie is the narrator for this story and is at times a bit unreliable, but this worked for me. Her voice matches the character the author has developed.. a girl who wants more, but is a little unstable, a little on the edge and suffering from mental illness.

The author certainly took liberties and gave the story a unique twist. I enjoyed the modern aspects, from watching Emeril on her Tablet to the banter between Bridget and Lizzie with the added Star Wars quotes. This is not a book to read if you are sensitive to elements of a horror book. There is blood, there is gore and at times it's anything but pretty. However, I think anyone reading this story would expect those elements, as they are part of the legend that inspired the book.

I was entertained, definitely felt a little sick to my stomach at times and a little sad when thinking that this is based on a true story and the real Lizzie Borden was very likely an abused misunderstood woman suffering from mental illness who snapped. What if someone had realized this and the subject of mental illness was less taboo and more understood in the 1800's, could someone have intervened before the legend was made?

I gave this book four stars. I saw many reviews that were less than this, but when an author has the ability to pull me into a story and elicit a feeling of sadness, longing and even a little nausea to me as a reader she's clearly done something right, because she succeeded in pulling me into this story and left me thinking about what ifs after the final page.
Profile Image for Kate.
Author 15 books822 followers
February 28, 2018
I read this ARC via Edelweiss Plus.

Lizzie Borden doesn't have a whole lot of freedom. Her father and stepmother see her as mentally unstable, and refuse to let her even think about culinary school for fear that she'll have a breakdown. It doesn't help that every time Lizzie gets her period she blacks out and terrible things happen. She's alone at the Borden B&B when she feels a similar attack coming on. Luckily, Bridget arrives at the door. Bridget is the new maid, and Lizzie falls hard for her - so hard that she tries to keep Bridget's early arrival a secret. As Bridget encourages Lizzie to be more independent and move out, Lizzie's home life spirals out of control...

When I was in high school, I did a report on Lizzie Borden for a psychology class, where I attempted to diagnose her. Though the setting for this story is modern, there were a lot of elements that I remembered from my research: the fact that many people believed that Lizzie was a lesbian, the , and . Of course, we all know about the axe and the forty whacks, so the ending wasn't a huge shock. That's really my only complaint, is that the ending didn't have a lot of punch. However, the rest of the story really draws the reader into Lizzie's mental state and made me feel just as trapped as Lizzie does. I'm not sure the threat of being involuntarily committed would be as frightening now as it was back in the early 1900s, but Lizzie can't trust herself, which is scary enough. There's a lot of gore and dramatic moments aplenty. Recommend for fans of Amy Lukavics.
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