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Both seventeen. Both afraid. But both saying yes. It sounded like the perfect first date: canoeing across a chain of lakes, sandwiches and b...

Review || A House at the Bottom of a Lake by Josh Malerman


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.






 



A House at the Bottom of a Lake sounds like a straightforward enough concept but the telling of it is so much more. Two teenagers decide to take a relative's canoe out on the lake for a picnic first date. In doing so, they discover another connected lake, one that they didn't know even existed. Quiet and private, it's the perfect place for these two to get to know one another and fall in love. However, there's something else waiting for them in the lake; a perfectly preserved house just sitting there. 

Of course, the teens wonder how and why the house is there, but soon they claim it as their own secret spot. They spend their days swimming in the water exploring as much as they are able and their nights camped on a floating platform above. Soon enough, all of their thoughts are overwhelmed by the house. At first, the discovery is full of magic and wonder as they find ways to explore more and more of the house. While the obsession with the house grows, so does the eerieness and otherworldliness of the house. Objects that should float, don't. Books that should be moldered and wet, aren't. Sounds that shouldn't be heard in a house at the bottom of a lake, are. 

Don't expect a rush to the ending on this one. While it is a novella, Malerman excels at the slow burn. Take your time and enjoy the summer days with young love. It's enchanting and mysterious, sometimes awkward and painfully heartfelt, but always genuine. Is it horror though? Eh. There's no denying that there are a few incredibly creepy and claustrophobic moments, but what I loved about it is that Malerman gives you just enough and lets you decide on your own. Many will close the book with frustration and no more answers than when they began, but as Amelia and James vow, maybe it's better to not ask the how and why of something.