Lute by Jennifer Thorne | Book Review

Wrong book, wrong reader. It happens.

Lute by Jennifer Thorne

Released October 2022

Source: Received for Review Consideration

Goodreads  | Amazon

Wicker Man meets Final Destination in Jennifer Thorne's atmospheric, unsettling folk horror novel about love, duty, and community.

On the idyllic island of Lute, every seventh summer, seven people die. No more, no less.

Lute and its inhabitants are blessed, year after year, with good weather, good health, and good fortune. They live a happy, superior life, untouched by the war that rages all around them. So it’s only fair that every seven years, on the day of the tithe, the island’s gift is honored.

Nina Treadway is new to The Day. A Florida girl by birth, she became a Lady through her marriage to Lord Treadway, whose family has long protected the island. Nina’s heard about The Day, of course. Heard about the horrific tragedies, the lives lost, but she doesn’t believe in it. It's all superstitious nonsense. Stories told to keep newcomers at bay and youngsters in line.

Then The Day begins. And it's a day of nightmares, of grief, of reckoning. But it is also a day of community. Of survival and strength. Of love, at its most pure and untamed. When The Day ends, Nina―and Lute―will never be the same.

My 2 Cents for Free!

Hmmm, have you ever wanted to adore a book and make it work because it sounds amazing and almost everyone else seems to love/like it but the book and/or your brain have other plans? I think that's what happened here. Or maybe I'm just malfunctioning.

Who cares, right?

So, Lute takes place on an idyllic secluded isle in the UK. Nina, a Floridian, married the Lord of Lute and is now the Lady of Lute. She's been there for seven years having babies and seemingly ignoring the locals but now "The Day" has arrived. She's heard rumors about sacrifices and such that happen on "The Day" which arrives every seven years, but she believes it's all superstition and she isn’t nosey like me and hasn’t asked all or any of the proper questions and she feels like an outsider being from the evil US and all. The cowardly Lord of Lute makes plans for himself and for his family to escape Lute and whatever horrors may await on "The Day" because OF COURSE he does but those plans go awry. Too bad, so sad. Now Nina is at the part where she is about to find out what the true cost of living on an island free of worry and strife truly costs. And it’s kind of a big deal.

That’s really all I want to say about the plot. There is a weird thing going on with a near-future timeline where war has broken out and the US is the enemy of everyone else but that doesn’t have much to do with the story itself. Do yourself a favor and ignore the synopsis unless you want it all spoiled. It gives too much away which is really a shame - especially if you’re not a person who has watched or read much in the way of folk horror.

Once I decided to ignore the iffy and confusing timeline, I was having a decent time waiting for some dread to settle in but it didn’t really happen for me - possibly because I basically knew what was coming but I was enjoying watching Nina maneuver her way around the island and having awkward dealings with the people she’d previously kept at arm's length due to her own issues. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line she simply began to annoy me with her inaction and her complete lack of curiosity, and don’t even get me started on the needless and unbelievable romance that is added in here because I do not want to waste another moment thinking about it. I’ve read many a romance. I LOVE a good steamy romance. Put romance in all the stories and I won’t be the one complaining about it but please sweet Satan, spend your time developing the romance and make it make sense! Otherwise, it’s a waste of space and it makes me go a little screamy. Here it made me a lot screamy. But again, that may be on me and my reading history. Other readers may not give a cat’s butt about it and that’s perfectly fine too.

In the end, Nina does come around a bit but the journey to get there took too long for my patience. The logic of “The Day” didn’t add up when the lore was considered. Some things were answered but looking back on my notes I realize that there were many random things that were brought up in the story that didn’t seem to fit and it seemed strange to include them. Horses, psychic flashbacks, supposedly dark pasts, and secrets that should be kept to oneself, lol. Nina’s characterization also felt inconsistent, and she seemed to forget she had little kids to worry about for most of the book. Maybe that’s what happens when you have maids and nannies? I wouldn’t know. After writing this all out, I suppose most of this book simply didn’t work for me and I’m just nitpicking now. Anyhow, this all makes me sad because I wanted to love this book but hey, we can’t all have the same reading experience, or what’s the point of pubs releasing so many books each month, right?

I’m struggling to say something positive because that’s what I’m told I'm supposed to do (and sometimes I just cannot), I guess I’ll have to go with a low 3 or perhaps a high 2 might be more fitting. I think if you know nothing going in, you do not read romance the way I have read romance and you enjoy a leisurely stroll through an idyllic island with some threads of danger thrown in your path, you’ll find some things to enjoy here.

All I can say is whew, what a journey this book and I had 😅.


  1. Sounds like this one failed for you on many levels. How was Nina not curious about the Day? How was she not asking around about it? And then the romance didn't work either? Frustrating! I think I'd rather reread Jackson's The Lottery.

    1. Right? How could she not be curious about any of it?! It was a bit frustrating because I am so nosy, lol.


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