cover image Escaping Mr. Rochester

Escaping Mr. Rochester

L.L. McKinney. HarperTeen, $19.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-298626-9

McKinney (the Nightmare-Verse series) critically examines Jane Eyre through a Black, sapphic lens in this incisive remix. To escape her uneasy existence as an outcast at Lowood School in Lancashire, England, 19-year-old Jane Eyre—an orphan whose only crime is to have been born with “the wrong lineage, the wrong upbringing, the wrong affluential status”—takes a job as governess for Edward Rochester. Within the decaying walls of broody Thornfield Hall, Jane’s fate becomes inextricably linked with that of the deceptively charming Mr. Rochester, his fearful 10-year-old daughter Adèle, and the secretly confined Bertha Mason, the New Orleans–born wife of Mr. Rochester, who tries to escape her cruel imprisonment at every turn. As Mr. Rochester’s intentions toward Jane grow murkier, her suspicions about her employer skew ever darker, and Bertha’s dire situation grows increasingly precarious. But Bertha has one daring final escape plan up her sleeve—and it involves “stunning” and enchanting Jane. McKinney’s portrayal of Rochester—as rendered via Jane and Bertha’s alternating POVs—as a handsome devil in disguise is as revolting as it is beguiling, and the author’s depiction of Thornfield culminates in a perfectly disquieting setting for the women’s journeys to freedom in this thrilling, compulsively readable novel. Ages 13–up. (Jan.)

Update: This review has been changed to reflect the book's final text.