The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling (2021)
Of all the books featured on this short list, “The Death of Jane Lawrence” is by far the most convoluted, to the point that it has left many people scratching their heads. Seasoned gothic readers will recognize many common plot beats: an arranged marriage between a practical female protagonist and bachelor doctor, a 19th-century England (albeit a slightly fantastical version), and a house too far from town for comfort.
Jane Shoringfield finds herself on the doorstep of Lindridge Hall, her husband’s family estate, on her wedding night; the same place that her husband has expressly forbidden her to enter. Naturally, she does, and everything predictably gothic sails out the window in favor of a plot that takes a deep dive into the bizarre.
Describing “The Death of Jane Lawrence” from this point on is nearly impossible without getting into spoilers, but readers can be assured that if they feel confused, so did everyone else who read the book. It’s a divisive book due to its complex nature, but for those seeking a challenge, “The Death of Jane Lawrence” will prove to be a formidable opponent.