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After Alice Fell: Book Review

After Alice Fell by Kim Taylor Blakemore, image from author's website

What's it about?

Widow, Marion, is dragged back to the place she once called home after the horrific news that her sister killed herself. The asylum superintendent says she jumped from the roof, but how did she get up there in the first place? 

Everyone has swept Alice and her tragic death under the carpet. No one will speak about her. No one will believe Marion when she says her sister would never commit suicide. But madness runs in the blood. Marion better believe that before it's too late. 


'"Why do you do this?" I jerked forward. Grabbed her shoulders and shook her. "You're my prison. Everything I've wanted has been ruined by you. You've taken it all."'

'"I want..." But all I could conjure was a field without end, and myself looking back at myself from the horizon's bowed edge. Yellow flowers, knee high. "I want myself."'

My thoughts:

This is the second book I've read from Kim Taylor Blakemore (find my review of her other book here) and it is another spectacularly gothic tale. 

The atmosphere is thick and foreboding. Set in a stifling summer after the American Civil War, Blakemore plays on the fetid and claustrophobic environment perfectly. 

It builds slowly, lingering on both beautiful and macabre historic details. This is definitely a wonderful book for fans of the Victorian era. We get a real sense of Marion's precariousness as a widow in her brother's home. She has no status or money of her own. She has no power and worse, no voice. 

The only person who listens to her is her nephew, Toby. Like Marion, he is the only one who seems to miss Alice. Like Marion, he is forced to abide by everyone else's rules and is ignored. 

Marion treads a very fine and dangerous line in her quest for the truth. Her tenacity puts her own life in peril, and as we all know, an outspoken woman is a problem. The asylum looms as a shadow of both her past and possible future. The climax is chilling and terrifying. 

Blakemore has a unique voice. The style is beautiful and economic. The world-building is superb. 

I only realised when I'd finished the book that there is no romance for Marion. Indeed, it's a book very thin on romance, which is quite unusual in this historical and gothic genre. I loved the fact that Marion was an independent woman fighting for her right to be heard. It was a refreshing viewpoint from someone who neither needed nor wanted a man.

Overall, this is a book about family love and secrets, where guilt and madness creep within the pages and tragedy and hope entwine with each other. 

About the author:

"Kim writes historical novels that feature fierce and often dangerous women. She writes about the thieves and servants, murderesses and soiled doves, grifters and dancehall girls - the women with darker stories, tangled lies and hidden motives.

She is the author of the bestselling historical thriller AFTER ALICE FELL, and THE COMPANION, lauded by Publisher's Weekly as "a captivating tale of psychological suspense." She is also the author of BOWERY GIRL and WILLA Literary Award for Best Young Adult novel, CISSY FUNK." 

Visit her website here

About the author

Delphine Woods

Delphine Woods

Delphine Woods is an author who loves to write historical mysteries and thrillers. 

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