Book Reviews

Review: Reader, I Murdered Him by Betsy Cornwell

I loved the idea of a teenage vigilante and knew I’d have to read Reader, I Murdered Him ASAP. Also I cannot get over the title! What starts off as a Jane Eyre retelling except from Adele’s POV, ends up transforming into something else! Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


Adele grew up in the shadows–first watching from backstage at her mother’s Parisian dance halls, then wandering around the gloomy, haunted rooms of her father’s manor. When she’s finally sent away to boarding school in London, she’s happy to enter the brightly lit world of society girls and their wealthy suitors.

Yet there are shadows there, too. Many of the men that try to charm Adele’s new friends do so with dark intentions. After a violent assault, she turns to a roguish young con woman for help. Together, they become vigilantes meting out justice. But can Adele save herself from the same fate as those she protects?


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

TW: sexual assault, pedophilia

Okay, we love some sapphic historical vigilantes. I will read any story like this any time. I had no idea that Reader, I Murdered Him told the story of Adele from Jane Eyre. But what I loved about this specific aspect was that it leans and pulls from the original in just the right spots. It is centered on Adele’s background before she meets Jane and then her own feelings regarding Jane. It felt like a fresh perspective on a classic, but also one that wasn’t trying too hard to stick only to the original.

And then where it obviously departs from Jane Eyre, I adored. To see the ways in which Adele has been shaped by her upbringing and see what she makes of herself. Because while Jane is there, she’s by no means a present mother figure to her for her entire life. Once her story really departs from the original, is when I began to fall in love with Adele. To see the ways in which she protects her friends when no one else will. At the same time, Reader, I Murdered Him is very aware of the privilege and class differences. How she has certain privilege because her family is not dependent on her match.

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And don’t even get me started on how much I loved the queer pining! The ways in which pressure and standing and our entire future depends on security. How it’s not a viable option for everyone to follow their hearts. All the ways in which society forces expectations, ‘proper behavior’ and fear. Reader, I Murdered Him also explores how being ‘hurt’ by people we know and people who ‘like us’ are not mutually exclusive. If you’re searching for a queer historical fiction with some action, a bit of a classic feel (with a new twist) and plenty of justice then check this one out! Find Reader, I Murdered Him on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


What is your favorite queer historical fiction?

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