Title: The Room by the Lake
Expected publication: 10 August 2017
Having recently lost her mother after a long illness and watching her father drown his grief in alcohol, Caitlin flees England for New York in the hope of escaping her everyday life. Shy in the company of strangers, she finds that loneliness plagues her even in this seductive big city – until she meets Jake, a handsome stranger, in a bar one night. After only a couple of blissful days together, Jake asks Caitlin to come with him to the country to meet his parents. Despite some misgivings, Caitlin agrees, and they set off to a remote “house by the lake”, an old mansion Jake says has been in his family forever. But what Caitlin finds there is not at all what she expected ....
I love discovering a new author who manages to draw me into the story within the first few pages, and Emma Dibdin managed to do just that. Everyone has had periods in their lives when things were not going well, when running away seemed like the only option, and Caitlin is portrayed with insight and feeling, making her an irresistible main protagonist I couldn’t help fear for. After her mother’s lifelong struggle with mental health issues, Caitlin is especially vulnerable to any signs that she, too, will one day succumb to this terrible illness, which makes part of her normal grieving process even scarier for her. Sad, lonely and far away from home, she makes the perfect target for a predator. What follows is a chilling account of a journey gone wrong, and I couldn’t put the book down as Caitlin’s life spiralled out of control in front of my eyes. Dibdin manages to create a constant undertone of menace and confusion, which had me questioning my own interpretation of events several times – I just love it when a book messes with my mind! The setting, too, was irresistibly creepy – a remote old mansion set in a dark forest on the shores of a lake – and gave the additional pleasure of some armchair travel to Upstate NY. There were perhaps a couple of moments when I felt I had to suspend disbelief a little bit, mainly to do with some characters’ motives, but this did not spoil my reading pleasure and I sat up reading late into the night to find out what would happen next.
The Room by the Lake is a gripping psychological thriller by a new author I hope to read a lot more from in future. I really enjoyed it and can wholeheartedly recommend it to all lovers of the genre.
Thank you to Netgalley and Head of Zeus for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.