As you look into the depths of the lake, you feel a shiver creep up your spine. The moon is hiding as if it has already foreseen the future. Your heart suddenly stops. A figure is standing on the bank. Watching you. Quickly, you look down, praying it was just your imagination. When you dare to take another look, the figure is gone. And then you see it: The extra shadow bearing down on your reflection in the lake…
Today I have the pleasure of being on the blog tour for The House On The Lake (Paperback published 20th February) By Nuala Ellwood. A big thank you to Penguin/Viking for my copy to review and for the invite to take part. Always appreciated, thank you.
About The Author
Nuala Ellwood is the author of two bestselling novels: My Sister’s Bones, for which she was selected as one of the Observer’s ‘New Faces of Fiction 2017’, and Day of the Accident. Nuala lives in York with her young son. The House on the Lake is her latest novel.
The House On The Lake
No matter how far you run . . .
He’s never far behind
Lisa needs to disappear. And her friend’s rambling old home in the wilds of Yorkshire seems like the perfect place. It’s miles away from the closest town, and no one there knows her or her little boy, Joe.
But when a woman from the local village comes to visit them, Lisa realizes that she and Joe aren’t as safe as she thought.
What secret has Rowan Isle House – and her friend kept hidden all these years?
And what will Lisa have to do to survive, when her past finally catches up with her?
Set against the isolated wilds of Yorkshire, Lisa needs to disappear and fast. Her reasons are unknown to reader as she takes refuge in Rowan Isle House with her three year old son Joe. With the nearest town being miles away, it seems like the ideal hideaway. Upon arriving Lisa suddenly realises that Rowan Isle House may not be the safe-haven she was hoping for. The house makes her feel uneasy and nervous. There’s no electricity, no hot water and no signal. It’s damp and smells of death. Lisa begins to panic and realises she has no choice but to stay. As if sent by god, Isobel the vicar’s daughter appears and offers assistance. Lisa forces herself to adjust to her temporary situation, however she still appears jumpy and on edge, constantly looking over her shoulder wondering if anyone will recognise her. It compels you to read on, to discover the truth.
The narrative is intriguing. It is told from two characters, one set in the past – 2002 – and the other in the present – 2018. In the past we are reading Solider number one’s logbook, who we later learn is called Grace. She lived at the house with her father, Sarge. They live an unusual life with little social interaction and hunting small prey in the woods. Grace gets a logbook for her birthday and is instructed to write in it every day. Something that she becomes obsessed with doing as it comforts her. In 2018 Lisa narrates and is running from her past as she hides out at the house. The switch from the present to the past works well as it adds nail-biting tension.
I felt deep sympathy for both Lisa and Grace. They are trapped in abusive and suffocating relationships that play on their weaknesses. Lisa is constantly plagued with the venomous voice of Mark, berating and mocking her. He has worn her down, she is scared, paranoid and doesn’t trust her own judgment. We watch her mind quickly unravel as she jumps at every bang and knock in the house. It’s enough to give you a heart-attack. With Grace I felt sad that she didn’t get to experience a normal childhood and is controlled by her father. She has to prove herself to him and is desperate for his affection. She never knew her mother as Sarge says she died in the desert. But the truth is far more horrific than one could possibly imagine.
The atmosphere that Ellwood creates is chilling. Isolated fields with no sheep or horses, no sign of life for miles. You feel truly alone and trapped in this world with no idea what you are running from. Rowan Isle House itself made my flesh crawl. With its black stone walls and barred windows it felt more like a prison than a home. It was difficult to imagine anyone wanting to live there as the place was falling apart. And with a giant lake at front stage and centre, you just know that there is something disturbing hidden at the bottom. Time ceases to exist as you no longer recognise day from night and the smell of the damp, decaying exterior lingers on your skin. Becoming a part of you; or should that be you becoming a part of the house…
The strength of these women are at the heart of this story. They are beaten down and left to rot by the men who were meant to protect and love them. They rise from the ashes and assert themselves, taking back what was stolen from them. Their identity. It’s powerful, inspiring writing that makes you fist pump the air screaming “Girl power”. Even Lisa’s relationship with her son Joe is strained as he bites and hits her screaming for his dad. It breaks your heart to read as at every attempt of Lisa’s to bond with him, he pushes farther and farther away. But she refuses to give up or give in and it is this determination that shows you how strong and brave these women truly are.
I give The House On The Lake a Five out of Five paw rating
This is a story about finding out who you really are, being proud of your true self and coming home. I could not put this down, it was addictive. I HAD to know what ghosts haunted the house and the characters. A gripping, chilling read that will leave you clutching at the pages for dear life, breathless and yearning for more. It’s tense and you will be on edge the entire time, wondering if you are being watched from the shadows…
Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour for this fantastic book, dates below, enjoy.
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