Book Review: A House at the Bottom of a Lake

A HOUSE AT THE BOTTOM OF A LAKE | Josh Malerman
10.31.2016 | This is Horror
Rating: 4/5 stars

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James and Amelia are two seventeen-year-olds who have just met. They decide to have their first date canoeing on the lake. They have an instant spark of chemistry as they bond over disastrous first dates and their sense of adventure. The lake is the perfect setting for these two and they decide to travel on to the connecting second lake. When they find that there is a well-hidden third lake things change for them forever.

The third lake is home to a house that has been mostly submerged below the water. How did it end up here? What’s at the bottom of the lake? James and Amelia can’t resist the pull to explore the house. The more they explore, the more they can’t stop thinking about it. The more time they want to spend on the lake. Something feels wrong, but they can’t put their finger on it. What secrets does this house have hidden?

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It’s simple, if you think about it. Fixing stuff. There are only so many parts to a thing, you know? So you just start figuring out which part is the broken part.

A HOUSE AT THE BOTTOM OF A LAKE is a coming of age story, mixed with fantasy and a dash of horror. At the root of the story is the relationship between James and Amelia, two teenagers that have just met and are having their first date on a secluded lake. Their relationship with the house they ultimate discover sunken to the bottom of the lake is a parallel to their own relationship. Both start out fun and exciting. They’re discovering each other, along with discovering the house. They all have secrets that can change everything. The risk of unveiling the secrets is the loss of the mystery that bond James and Amelia together in the first place.

The concept behind this novella may be simply, but the execution makes it a delightfully entertaining read. Malerman’s detailed description of the house as James and Amelia explore it makes it easy to get under your skin. The idea of a lake in the middle of nowhere have a house submerged underwater is fascinating on it’s own. As you learn more through tagging along with James and Amelia the reader’s mind can’t help but create fantastical stories about how it ended up there and how to explain the odd things happening inside. True to most underwater stories, this one also hones in on a sense of the unknown and things that creep in the dark. There are moments where I could feel the chills running down my skin.

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Other feelings, outside forces, fears. These were the enemies of a good thing. These were the problems people faced.

Malerman’s writing within the constraints of a little over 100 pages is captivating! I’m always impressed by authors that pen novellas and can create a fully thought out idea within such a small page count. When they have the ability to make that story stay with you after you turn the last page, it’s even better and that is exactly how I felt about A HOUSE AT THE BOTTOM OF A LAKE. The mixture of young love and adventure coursing through these pages will have you pondering not only the house, but also James and Amelia’s relationship.


This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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