The Savage Instinct – M. M. DeLuca

Remember how I was talking about a lucky streak with ARC? Well, it keeps going!

Meet The Savage Instinct, by M. M. DeLuca.

Another good cover, I’m really pleased with the contrast between the drawing and the font. While the plot is the only part I care about when it comes to picking books, covers help me through the very first screening process. Kudos to the artist!

The story itself is a cool one, too. I’m not gonna lie, the beginning feels a little slow, but then the pace picks up and it all starts flowing in a very satisfying way.

Yay!

  • You know, Clara is a very interesting character. Even if she’s trapped between her past and her husband (oh my god, Henry), she doesn’t just give up. It would be so easy for her to just say okay, whatever, and become a soulless wife – she has every incentive to do so, after all – but she doesn’t. She navigates through social expectations, her trauma(s), and her self-discovery without losing herself, while some hit and miss here and there help her grow.
  • Henry. He’s the antagonist, he’s unlikeable and he makes my eye twitch something fierce. A 100% villain, you say? Not really. Throughout the whole story, he rather proves to be a coward, moved by greed and his mother’s ambitions, but he’s not unidimensional. He doesn’t cackle or twirl his mustache, villain-style, he’s just an asshole. A very human one, and it takes skills to write characters like him. 
  • Clara’s journey is worth mentioning per se. As I already said, she goes from point A, the asylum, from point B, her freedom, and it’s very interesting to get into her head, see the discoveries she makes (‘oh, hey, dear husband is a creeper and also into my money, uh’) and her plans to get away. I ended up rooting for her, always a good sign. 
  • The style. It gives much away, true, but it pays off in the end. Speaking of-
  • The ending. Trust me on this, the twist at the ending is de-light-ful.

A special mention must go to Mary Ann Cotton. Is she guilty? Is she innocent? I don’t know. Clara doesn’t know either, and while I did some research on her (hello, history nerd here) I found out that her trial and conviction were somehow biased. Maybe she is both, guilty and innocent at the same time?

Again, it takes skills to write ambiguous characters. Well done, Marjorie.

Nay!

  • The only issue I have with TSI is how I needed a robust suspension of disbelief in a couple of places. First thing first, the inn. Henry is hot on her heels, on lookout, and… Clara just hides at the inn? And Henry doesn’t think to go looking there? We’re talking 1800 Durham, England, not 2021 New York, USA. How many inns are there going to be, one? Two? Five? I have no idea, but given the particular location, that should be the very first place Henry checks. Same goes with the prison and the day of the execution.

All in all, TSI is a good story, well-written (it’s first pov, so it really *is* well-written to pass the bar) and – you’ll find out. 4 GR stars, 8/10 here,

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