Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone
There are monsters in the world.
When Violeta Graceling arrives at haunted Lakesedge estate, she expects to find a monster. She knows the terrifying rumors about Rowan Sylvanan, who drowned his entire family when he was a boy. But neither the estate nor the monster are what they seem.
There are monsters in the woods.
As Leta falls for Rowan, she discovers he is bound to the Lord Under, the sinister death god lurking in the black waters of the lake. A creature to whom Leta is inexplicably drawn…
There’s a monster in the shadows, and now it knows my name.
Now, to save Rowan—and herself—Leta must confront the darkness in her past, including unraveling the mystery of her connection to the Lord Under.
DISCLAIMER: I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
EXPECTED SEPTEMBER 28TH, 2021
Always from one monster to the next.
When Leta and her brother Arien go to Lakesedge, they’re trading away life with one monster for life with another. The new monster, Rowan Sylvanan, is the master of the estate, and he drowned his entire family, one by one. Yet he wants Arien’s help, Arien’s magic to combat a darkness that grips the lake behind the manor. Why then, would a monster want to stop his own darkness?
There’s more to Lakesedge than Leta first sees, and more to Rowan as well. The longer she stays at the estate, the more she comes to realize deeper, darker truths abound. Secrets long buried are coming back to light, and through it all, there is a constant current leading back to the Lord Under, the god of death.
If Leta is going to survive Lakesedge, she must confront not only her own past, but Rowan’s as well, and learn to navigate her strange connection to the Lord Under.
Lakesedge is moody gothic more than creepy gothic, which I prefer.
I’m not a huge fan of horror (with some exceptions), so I was really pleased to find that Lakesedge relies more on a gloomy, atmospheric touch than the creepier gothic elements. Sure, there’s some content that I would classify as body horror, or perhaps body horror adjacent. There’s some scenes that are downright spooky and unsettling.
But there are also scenes that hold a wistful sort of wonder, and moments that feel like a candle in the dark, warm and small but still there all the same. I love these so much, because they echo the estate in the beginning: beautiful but lonely, like there was life here and it’s faded since.
It’s this atmosphere that lends Lakesedge so much of its power as a book, what makes it so captivating. You want to peek into all these secret corners, see if anything catches your eye, see if there’s some terrible thing lurking that you still can’t look away from. It’s a gothic curiosity, really, one only distantly touched by fear, one touched more by love and sacrifice instead.
“Better a soft heart than no heart at all.”
My favorite part about this book, though, is not the atmosphere. It’s the characters.
Leta, of course, had my heart immediately. An older sibling trying to protect a younger sibling from harm? That tends to grab my heart and squeeze. I’m the oldest of three, after all, and that protectiveness is something I’m familiar with. But Leta is also fearless in so many instances, and brave in the rest. She doesn’t shy away from circumstances that might terrify anyone else, especially if it’s to protect Arien from harm. More importantly, thought, she presses on even when she is afraid. Sure, she might wait to consider her options, try to approach a situation in a way that inspires less fear, but she still moves forward in the end. She’s wonderfully reliable, sometimes in a way that makes my heart ache.
Rowan, on the other hand, was not an instant favorite. Broody loner is far from my favorite character archetype, and at first, he fits it to a T. Classic gothic romance, right? Except as we learn more about him, we see that he’s a boy forced to grow up too soon, a boy shaped by horrific trauma and strain. To my absolute shock, he cries more than once in this book. And not pretty little single tears. Real sobs, true distress and loss. I’m not used to seeing male characters written this away, allowed to feel so much so keenly, and it endeared me to Rowan because it opened him up, showed me a character worth rooting for. There are other factors, of course, but they’re difficult to explain without straying into spoiler territory, which I try to avoid.
Suffice to say, the characters, both main and supporting, made Lakesedge all the more enjoyable and worth my time. And, lovely bonus, there is quite a few mentions of casual queerness that I delighted in. Always a plus to see!
You don’t have to wait much longer to see what the Lord Under wants from Leta and Rowan.
Lakesedge will hit shelves tomorrow, September 28th! And trust me when I say you’ll want the sequel as soon as you finish. Forestfall may be a ways off, in 2022, but I need it after that final scene.
And what better way to end the first book in a gothic fantasy romance series than to fill the reader with unattainable, aching longing? It seems more than appropriate for the genre, and I’m so eager to see what comes next for Leta, not to mention Lyndall Clipstone’s writing career.
CW: child abuse, loss of a loved one, self-harm, child death, suicide, sex scene, body horror