The Lake House by Sarah Beth Durst Review

Isolation and the unknown are two of the most interesting topics in fiction; at least to this reviewer. Thus, my interest was piqued as soon as I saw the cover and title of The Lake House by Sarah Beth Durst, while browsing a website devoted to review copies. The cover really grabbed my attention, if I’m being honest, and the rest followed, leading to a quick request to review it. In the end I’m glad that I chose to do so, because it was an enjoyable read.

The Lake House begins as three seventeen year-old girls are ferried to a remote island in the middle of the Maine wilderness. They’re there to spend the summer creating great memories and forming strong bonds, as — I assume — guests at a lake house there. Each girl’s parents told them it would be a wonderful adventure, having gone through it themselves in the past. Hell, one couple even met there and got married years later.

Although our main character and window to this story is Claire, she’s joined by two other important characters named Reyva and Mariana. It’s Claire’s viewpoint that we experience this story through, however, and it’s one that is troubled. You see, Claire deals with anxiety and panic attacks, and she’s always been both guarded and ashamed with regards to them. Her parents act like there’s something wrong, and that negative energy has built up to the point where the girl doesn’t even socialize much. In fact, she’s afraid that these two strangers will dislike her if she even shows a hint of anxiety, or — God forbid — has a panic attack. Needless to say, there’s some depth there, and one of the best things about this solid book is its main characters, their depth and the relationships they form.

That said, all is not well on this remote island somewhere in Maine.

When the girls make the trek to the Lake House after being dropped off and left to their own devices by a boy and his boat, they discover that the place has been burned to the ground. The main building and its sheds have been mostly destroyed, and the tennis court is also in bad shape. This unexpected development shocks and bewilders our heroines, but it also screws them over because it means they’re stuck there without help or a ride out. Then, they find a dead body.

For the most part, The Lake House by Sarah Beth Durst is a story of survival, and a tale in which three young women work together to try to save themselves from an unexpected predicament. However, there’s more to this island than meets the eye, and the girls soon discover that by exploring the grounds of the old camp. I can’t go any further, because even a word could spoil the book for newcomers, and I don’t want to do that.

I will, however, state that this is a light horror book for a reason. It’s not a sunny or enjoyable experience for the main characters, nor is the novel written that way. These girls are in a fight for their lives against more than they know.

I’d never read anything by this author before, nor had I heard about her. I enjoyed her writing, for the most part, and would read something by her again. Granted, although I’m saying I enjoyed The Lake House, I don’t want to make it seem like I loved it from start to finish. There were times where I was a tad bored, and I felt that it took quite a while for things to build up. Once they did, though, I found myself blowing through the final third or so. Simply put: This is one of those stories that gets better as it goes along.

Those who are interested in a dark, mysterious and survival-driven young adult novel should pay attention to The Lake House. It’s worth your time, but is something I’d borrow from the library as opposed to buying. It’s solid, but not great.

This review is based on a copy of the book we were provided with. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley.



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