The Savage Instinct by Marjorie DeLuca

The Savage Instinct by Marjorie DeLuca follows Clara Blackstone as she is recovering from a year-long stay in an insane asylum. When arriving at her new home in Durham and back to her husband and life, she is confronted by a mob looking for justice and an alleged female killer. While dealing with the betrayal that led her to the asylum, she is also intrigued by Mary Ann Cotton’s story. She becomes close with Cotton and her domestic bliss begins to unravel, Clara begins to understand what her freedom and life is worth.

Favorite Quote

“Take care, Clara, and watch out for wolves. For when they get their teeth into your flesh, they’ll tear you to pieces.” ― Marjorie DeLuca, The Savage Instinct


I must make a confession, I’ve never read or seen any adaptations of Alias Grace which this book has been often compared to. The Savage Instinct by Marjorie DeLuca does a beautiful job of standing on its own. A reprint of a 2015 book by the same name; this book felt relevant and fresh even today.

I must also offer a Content Warning for anyone interested in this novel that there are graphic descriptions of physical and mental abuse which happens in a mental institution. In addition, this is about a woman who is also on trial for multiple murders. Female serial killers are not something that we often talk about as a society and in that way, I applaud DeLuca for delving into it.

The book was a quick read and for me was fast-paced and interesting. In fact, there was a cinematic quality to it that I think would be wonderful in film. There are huge twists that things I didn’t see coming which kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end.

I recommend these books if you’re looking for a female-driven mystery, very similar to Margaret Atwood’s work.

I received an e-book arc of The Savage Instinct by Marjorie DeLuca from the publisher Inkshares.

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