A HOUSE AT THE BOTTOM OF A LAKE
Written by Josh Malerman
Published by This Is Horror, October 21, 2016
My star rating: 3.75 stars
Both seventeen. Both afraid. But both saying yes. It sounded like the perfect first date: canoeing across a chain of lakes, sandwiches and beer in the cooler. But teenagers Amelia and James discover something below the water’s surface that changes their lives forever.
It’s got two stories.
It’s got a garden.
And the front door is open.
It’s a house at the bottom of a lake.
For the teens, there is only one rule: no questions. And yet, how could a place so spectacular come with no price tag? While the duo plays house beneath the waves, one reality remains: Just because a house is empty, doesn’t mean nobody’s home. Find it on Goodreads
I read Bird Box by the same author a few years ago. The cover looked great and I was in the mood for something terrifying. When I finished it I was so underwhelmed I was almost bored. I felt like I finished the book and didn’t know any more about the situation even after I turned that last page. But I did enjoy the writing so I thought that I would give him another chance. I’m glad that I did for a number of reasons.
As I just mentioned, I really like his writing style. He’s very good at creating an ominous and creepy atmosphere. Everything from the characters heightened emotions, to the description of the setting, and even the urgency of their situation, helps the reader place themselves in the world a little better. This book was even more ominous than Bird Box! Everything about this book was sinister and frightening. The setting was wonderful and dark even though it didn’t always make sense. I would find my mind driving towards the “how’s” and “why’s” but then I would find myself so invested that I would forget to ask the questions anymore. Actually, part of this book was that no one was allowed to ask those questions!! Maybe the characters actually mentioning this made me suspend reality for a little while and accept the weirdness and impossibility.
Josh Malerman also stays true to another way of writing – suspense and vagueness. My biggest issue in Bird Box was that I never knew what I was supposed to be afraid of. We just knew that there was something scary out there and he created suspense around the mystery. This book was much of the same. There was a house at the bottom of a lake and it was a little more than what it seemed. It defied gravity and physics. Not only was it strange for a house to be there, but the things they found inside were just not possible. Though we never really found out about what was inside, he did give examples in the way that we were experiencing this phenomenon along with the characters. And the examples were chilling. But I’m the type of person that needs details. I need to know exactly what it is that goes bump in the night. What it is, what it looks like, where it comes from, how it will kill and maim me…. I need details! And that’s where I feel as though I’m not the right audience for this author. He does a good job with the suspense and the mystery, but my reader mind needs specifics in order to be truly terrified!
The thing that I liked most about this book (aside from the fantastic descriptions of the setting!) was the sense of urgency and obsession. Not only do these two people find this house, but they become obsessed. This house and what’s inside begins to take over every aspect of their lives. They live for it, the breath for it, and they’re willing to die for it. It creates this all encompassing obsession that drives them towards this house and towards each other. For some reason, this was the most terrifying aspect for me!
I wish I could go into a little more detail with the story, but it’s so short and I wouldn’t want to spoil any of the scenes for you! It’s only about 115 pages, and packs quite a punch for such a short book! If atmosphere and mysterious descriptions freak you out, or if you enjoy things that go bump in the night, this one might be worth a read!
Until next time, happy reading!