There are monsters in the world.
When Violeta Graceling arrives at haunted Lakesedge estate, she expects to find a monster. She knows the terrifying rumours 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.
Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone
⚔️ 🏳️🌈 🧠 🌑 🧘♀️ 🐨
So, you know how I identify as a fantasy reader, but in actual fact I read more romance than anything else… Well, Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone has actually prompted the biggest surge in fantasy books on my TBR than anything else in the past two years. And it’s the perfect read for October.
Now, you may think that a book set at the height of summer is a weird book for October, but hear me out. Lakesedge is a gothic-inspired fantasy novel. For context, Australia has super hot, dry summers. Like I mean 42°C (108°F) days and 30°C nights are normal at the height of summer. It’s part of the reason why bushfires here can get so bad (a la our 2019-20 summer, when we had 4 months of fire across the country and then went straight into COVID). Lyndall, as an Aussie author (🐨) knows this dry heat, and has mixed it with the creepy, haunted gothic mansion setting. It’s unlike anything I’ve read before, and quite honestly, I loved it.
So, let’s look at the book!
OK, first things first, Lakesedge feels like a Hades and Persephone retelling. And I am here for every single retelling (especially Hades and Persephone) in the world. All of them. Because I fricking LOVE retellings.
I am in love with the characters in the book. All of them, except for the one you’re not supposed to love. Like, I just want to adopt them (except one, who I wouldn’t mind cuddling with). The characters are fully realised, in-depth characters with their own motivations and problems. And each of their goals don’t always line up with the others, which creates real conflict. This in turn makes the side characters three dimensional and part of the actual story.
But it isn’t just about the characters themselves, the relationship dynamics are so good. They argue, but still love each other. They try to protect each other. The sibling dynamic feels so real. The friendships are sweet while developing. And the love interest, while having issues I can’t identify with (you know, being cursed, etc.) makes me stare at this book with heart eyes. And also almost makes me wish that I had an enemies to lovers, cursed boyfriend in high school. ALMOST. (And, despite normally loathing love triangles, I kind of want one in this story…)
But, this story isn’t just about the characters. The plot has great pacing throughout, and while it definitely has its highs (mostly in the form of monsters and curses coming alive), this is tempered with some really sweet, quiet moments. I found it was a really good balance, and that made the book a super enjoyable read.
Finally, my favourite part of this book, the ultra creepy atmosphere. As I mentioned above, this book is a gothic inspired fantasy novel, and honestly, every single setting in this book is ah-mazing. I cannot scream about this enough. The Estate is brilliantly described — I felt like I was there, and it felt haunted and creepy. But also, the woods, the town, the travellers road, and the magical place — Lyndall Clipstone completely nailed the gothic-inspired part of this book.
OH. MY. GOD. That ending almost killed me. I have to be honest here — I’m not big on cliffhangers, as most of you know. I hate them. It’s also why I tend to wait until all the books in a series are out, and then I smash them all together. (Although I have definitely been cursing myself on not doing this lately…)
However, this is not actually a negative of the story. I’m just being greedy and impatient, because I want more of this story. Like, immediately. (Lyndall, if you see this, happy to volunteer for beta reading or early reviewing for Forestfall. Just putting it out there!!)
Overall, Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone is a brilliant take on creepy, atmospheric fantasy book. I secretly love the inclusion of pomegranates in it to tie it to the Hades / Persephone retelling, but I also love how you can see glimpses of other tales and mythologies woven throughout, including a small nod to Slavic mythology. I’m going to say that this is one of the best fantasy novels that I have read this year, and that is amazing, considering this is a debut novel. And I cannot wait for book 2!
I would recommend Lakesedge for fans of retellings, Kerri Maniscalco, Shea Ernshaw, Alexandra Christo, Emily Lloyd-Jones, and the Brontë sisters.
BONUS!! Tomorrow I have a surprise for you all related to Lakesedge!! I was fortunate enough to interview Lyndall about Lakesedge and writing in general — and I’m so pleased to share this with you all!!