Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier


When I was in middle school, a friend excitedly told me about a book titled Rebecca, and recommended that I read it because the main character was a lot like me. I’m still not convinced of the similarity between me and the main character, but I definitely liked how dark and gothic the story was. Rebecca became one of my favorites.

A few years ago, my copy was stolen out of our car by a pot-head, who probably thought that the red satin cover meant it was a trashy sex book. Hopefully, she enjoyed it anyway.

I decided that it was time to get around to replacing my copy, and picked up something else by Daphne du Maurier in the process. Despite how much I liked Rebecca, I had never felt any interest in reading any of her other books before now.

I settled on Jamaica Inn.

The horror and suspense are very well written; subtle and unrushed, which gives the reader time to properly appreciate the dark situation the main character finds herself in. I think that the impact of the BIG REVELATION was a bit lost on my modern Millennial mind, given that we currently live with mass murder being a depressingly common thing and all, but it wasn’t hard to appreciate it in the context of the book.

However, the romance was the weakest point, and the overall story would have been improved if it had been left out all together. It came across as a strange mixture of Mary-Sue fantasizing and self-loathing, and didn’t feel natural in the slightest. Every mention of love could have been blacked out and the plot would have remained entirely unchanged.

There was a very bad attempt to hand wave away a glaring plot hole two-thirds of the way in, and the story never quite recovered afterward.

My favorite character was the vicar, and I wish that he had more “screen time” so to speak. This probably attests to how weird of a person I am, but his lines were the ones that made my heart quicken with excitement, and I would ravenously devour any book that was written all about him. Unfortunately, he only appears a few times, and serves as a handy prop to make the ending more DRAMATIC. Still, I liked him.

The ending was not what I would have written, and I personally found it unsatisfying. While I am mindful of the fact that this book was published in the 1930’s and society was different back then, I still think that the choices the author made were lackluster and cowardly. Why does fiction have to be so black and white all the time? Real life sure as heck isn’t.

Finishing the book left me feeling disappointed and morose.

My rating: 4/5

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