A chilling tale, All the Dead Lie Down highlights a gothic atmosphere, a budding romance, and a house full of secrets and undead.
Definitely a genre jump for Kyrie McCauleys, whose previous works (If These Wings Could Fly & We Can Be Heroes) were more contemporary and focused on magical realism to tell emotional stories, All the Dead Lie Down does not pale in comparison.
Instantly I was hooked. McCauley is a masterful storyteller, building up the gothic scene and atmosphere from the beginning. All the Dead Lie Down is said to be “The Haunting of Bly Manor meets House of Salt and Sorrows,” which couldn’t be closer to the truth.
Marin Blythe is a recently orphaned young woman. One of the few survivors of a train crash that took her mother’s life, she discovers a letter from Alice Lovelace, an acclaimed horror novelist who turns out to be an old friend of her mother’s. Alice offers her a lifeline, a job as a governess for her two young daughters. Being a huge fan of Alice’s work and with nothing left to lose, Marin jumps at the opportunity.
The moment Marin pulls up to the too-large mansion, an unsettling feeling builds, ensnaring the reader. There is something wrong with Alice, and her children are no walk in the park either. Wren does everything she can to drive Marin away while Thea buries her dolls in elaborate burials in the forest. When dead birds emerge in her bedroom and closet, and maimed animals roam the forest, the reader realizes there is something wrong with the Lovelace home.
McCauley created an eerie story, but she also added depth to those characters, building up strong dynamics. As scared as Marin is, not only does she have nowhere else to go, but the girls draw her in, relating to the loneliness they exude. Evie, in particular, captures her attention, becoming the perfect foil for her, a character that balances her, forming a romantic bond between the two girls. However, even Marin can sense Evie hiding something, this girl who is always put together and wearing gloves.
The unsettling gothic atmosphere builds and builds as the tension steadily rises. Alice’s outburst becomes more frequent, and Marin discovers the family secret that haunts the walls of Lovelace, one that drove her mother to run away from her childhood home and friend.
That building tension grips you, making you look another way. McCauley keeps the reader engaged by building up that tension and atmosphere and keeping the story unpredictable. There are plot twists that make the reader gasp, and the romance that builds between Marin and Evie works in balance with the gothic. It adds to the story without distracting the plot and the creepy, haunting atmosphere McCauley worked so hard to build up. It was effortlessly written, all of it.
All the Dead Lie Down is such a fantastic novel. I devoured it and couldn’t put it down. I loved everything about it and have no complaints.
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