…only a fool would reject the comfort of routine for weeks of murder and monsters.
Kindle location 2065
This sequel to Maplewood meets and, in some ways, exceeds its predecessor.
Chapelwood opens not with Ms. Borden, but rather with an entry from an entirely new character: an accountant, who has recognized his role in a much deeper, and darker, mystery. An accountant who can see the pattern between the stars, or so he believes. An accountant who understands that to thwart the greater darkness, the in-between, there are people who must die.
And who sets about killing them with an ax.
For all that, however, the text is not about a serial killer. It is about pattern recognition, something we humans do well, and about a resurgence of the Old Ones. A singular heartbeat. And, of course, Lizzie Borden and her ax. This is not the young, still vital Lizzie of Maplecroft, however, but a Lizzie gone grey with age. She isn’t feeble, by any stretch of the imagination, but she has settled in to the role of Old Witch (including cats!) in Fall River, still at Maplecroft. The basement is bricked over, and her longing to know what has happened to Nance hasn’t eased in the intervening years.
And post-war Birmingham, Alabama is quite a long way away. Certainly too far for her to take more than a passing notice of strange goings-on there.
There’s more than one kind of strong, if you know what I’m talking about. There’s strong in mind, strong in body, and strong in spirit.
Kindle location 4280
There are more viewpoint characters in this novel than were in the original, but Priest has a deft hand and even if I were to open the book to a random page I should still know which of them were speaking without seeing the chapter headers. Some Birmingham natives, Lizzie, and the no-longer young Inspector Wolf from the first novel; relegated to a subordinate role in Maplecroft, Wolf comes into his own, here. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t curious to know more about the young medium, Ruth; I’m hoping there will be a third book in this delightful series.
The conclusion is conclusive — and yet there are enough loose ends for that third book to flow neatly from Chapelwood. It does not, however, have “middle-book syndrome”; although I recommend having read Maplecroft before picking Chapelwood up, it is not necessary. Nor will one have to read any hypothetical third novel to find out how things wrap up.
The smell, the angles, the silence, the darkness. […] It was something in the middle, and the middle was a horror.
Kindle Location 4511
A horror, yes, but one very difficult to look away from thanks to Priest’s characterization and amazing descriptions. I can’t recommend the two books strongly enough — especially if one likes horror, or Lovecraft, or dark, skewed, and fantastic history.