Tuesday 24 November 2015

Reviewed: The Secret By The Lake by Louise Douglas

The Secret by the Lake was published by Transworld on November 19, 2015.

Thanks to the publisher for approving me on Netgalley for a copy of this book to review.

It’s taken me a while to get there – having owned most of Louise Douglas’ books, The Secret by the Lake is the first one I’ve actually read so far but it was truly a phenomenal read – enchantingly written, mesmerising and vividly drawn. Blackwater Lake and the abandoned cottage beside it was really brought to life – I grew to know it and chillingly love it like it was a place I visited daily – some place where I got to know every little detail and all its flaws and hidden layers. The setting was beautifully written and really set the tone for the story, drawing on the tension and building it to an extent it was impossible for me to not need to carry on reading.

Though the prologue to this book commanded my attention, it did take me a little bit of time to really connect with the story once we met Amy and the family she is a nanny for, Julia, Alain and their sweet daughter Viviane. I think it was just a matter of adjusting to the change of course in the story because I was soon finding myself breath-taken by the wonderful story unfolding across the pages. Amy lives a contented life along with the Laurent family but that life is soon met with upheaval in two ways. When Amy learns a family member is ill, she has to return to England to look after them but when some sad news then forces the Laurent family to move back to Julia’s childhood home, Amy knows she has to be there for them and makes her way back to the family she has developed such a bond with.

It’s shortly after Amy’s return to the Laurent family when the realisation of just how full-to-the-brim with secrets the lakeside cottage is soon hit me and I was hooked. Everything about this setting appealed to me – how it was at times extremely spooky and though a tragedy gave the location a bit of a grim feel, it was also completely captivating to read about. The lake, too, was as big a part of the story as any character, always changing and developing and influencing the way things were about to unfold.

One of my favourite aspects to this book was the atmospheric writing, which was so stunning and believable and really set the tone for the novel perfectly. The gloomy, eerie weather depicted the feel of the lakeside location so well – dark and full of suspense, secrets hidden under every layer. The atmospheric ambiance also, with ease, led into the supernatural edge this book possessed and it was seriously spellbinding reading – I couldn’t get enough of it. There was real power in Louise’s every word and I hung off every last one of them. The way she built up the story was very gripping – even when I felt it was a bit of a slow-burner, I still couldn’t put the book down for it got under my skin right from the first page. I was so eager to unfold the mystery to this novel I actually skipped two meals and stayed up late…

I’m being deliberately vague with my detail to the storyline for a reason – there’s such a rewarding feel about uncovering the secrets and the mystery that I really don’t want to spoil anything if you’re to go on and read the book. All I can say on that is that I wholeheartedly recommend you pick it up and read it for yourself – because The Secret by the Lake is so spectacularly good and I am sure you’ll be completely fascinated with the story too. More than simply an absorbing mystery, Louise combines a romantic strand of the story between Amy and Daniel, which I enjoyed, along with a strong mix of the paranormal which I found particularly intriguing. There was the right amount of everything, except maybe for the pages which I wanted to go on for about double the length as once this story grabbed a hold of me, it never let go. Throughout the core of the remote location, The Secret by the Lake delivered absorbing and thrilling twists and turns again and again and I never managed to predict what was coming next in this genuinely fantastic novel.

Incredible storytelling and a hugely impressive novel from start to finish

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