Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Review: Sweet Madness by Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie

Sweet Madness by Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie
Series: Standalone
Published: September 15th, 2015
Publisher: Merit Press
223 pages (eARC)
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction/Mystery/Retelling/Horror
Acquired this book: Via Edelweiss in exchange for honest consideration
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}

Seventeen-year-old Bridget Sullivan is alone in Fall River, a city that sees Irish immigrants as nothing more than a drunken drain on society. To make matters worse, she's taken employment with the city’s most peculiar and gossip-laden family—the Bordens. But Bridget can’t afford to be picky—the pay surpasses any other job Bridget could ever secure and she desperately needs the money to buy her little sister, Cara, passage to the states. It doesn’t hurt that the job location is also close to her beau, Liam. As she enters the disturbing inner workings of the Borden household, Bridget clings to these advantages.

However, what seemed like a straightforward situation soon turns into one that is untenable. Of course Bridget has heard the gossip around town about the Bordens, but what she encounters is far more unsettling. The erratic, paranoid behavior of Mr. Borden, the fearful silence of his wife, and worse still…the nightly whisperings Bridget hears that seem to come from the walls themselves.

The unexpected bright spot of the position is that Lizzie Borden is so friendly. At first, Bridget is surprised at how Lizzie seems to look out for her, how she takes a strong interest in Bridget’s life. Over time, a friendship grows between them. But when Mr. Borden’s behavior goes from paranoid to cruel, and the eerie occurrences in the house seem to be building momentum, Bridget makes the tough decision that she must leave the house—even if it means leaving behind Lizzie, her closest friend, alone with the madness. Something she swore she would not do.

But when Bridget makes a horrifying discovery in the home, all that she thought she knew about the Bordens is called into question…including if Lizzie is dangerous. And the choice she must make about Lizzie’s character could mean Bridget’s life or death.


I’ve always been aware of who the Borden family were and that Lizzie Borden had supposedly killed her parents with an axe, but I didn’t know much beyond that. I was intrigued when I heard about Sweet Madness, a retelling of the Borden murders from the perspective of their seventeen-year-old Irish maid, Bridget.

Sweet Madness is a fascinating and creepy look inside the madness of the Borden house, the motives for a brutal murder, and the darkness that lives within some people. For anyone who knows a lot about the Borden murders, and even for those who know little to nothing, I think it’s important to remember this is a fictional retelling of real events. The authors used creative license to put forth their own theories and put a creative spin on what happened, since nothing was ever really proven. The reason I’m mentioning this is because I saw a few reviews that complained about how many inaccuracies the book had, but for me personally, going into a book like this I try to have an open mind and enjoy it for what it is, even knowing some things will be changed and the ending is pure fiction. 
Rumours about the Bordens had been circulating Fall River for years. People in town talked about how odd they were, especially Lizzie and Emma, homely spinster sisters with strange habits. Mr. Borden was a wealthy, successful businessman and yet his family lived in poor conditions and went without things. Bridget had been working for the Bordens for the past year and had stuck around, despite the rumours and despite the family’s strange behavior and demands, partly because the pay was good, partly because it allowed her to be closer to her boyfriend, and partly because she’d befriended Lizzie.

Sweet Madness had so many fascinating elements to it. Bridget had her own interesting story - coming over from Ireland, wanting to bring her sister over eventually, being in love with an Irishman and being part of his family, plus the whole ‘outsider view’ element of her being in the Borden house and being privy to certain things while still feeling this aura of mystery, tension, danger, and madness. Because Bridget had access to a lot of the house and spent most of her time there, she saw and heard a lot of what went on - the odd behavior, but also the cruelty and mind games. It was hard to know who to trust since things weren’t always as they seemed. While I was reading, I kept thinking this book would make a fantastically creepy movie.   

After I finished reading Sweet Madness, I pulled up Wikipedia and read about the Bordens and was impressed with a lot of the details, both big and small, that the authors worked into the story. They built up so much mystery and tension in the book that the spin they put on the murders seemed completely believable. That house was filled with madness - whether it was cursed or haunted, or whether the darkness and demons came from within its inhabitants, it all came together to make for something dark, disturbing, and thrilling. I would highly recommend Sweet Madness to fans of horror, historical fiction, and mystery.

Have you read Sweet Madness? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Are you familiar with the Borden murders? Do you think Lizzie killed her parents?

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