Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

Posted On 14 August 2017

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stillhouseStillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine is a tense thriller that kept me turning the pages late into the night.  Rather than a grisly story based on the serial killer himself this story takes a look at the family of the serial killer and their lives in the aftermath of his capture and it turns slowly but surely into a gripping psychological read.  It’s a really interesting idea to be honest – surely, you couldn’t live with such a monster and be totally unaware of their tendencies?  Well, meet Gina Royal, wife to Melvin Royal.  Gina has two children and a fairly average life.  She doesn’t rock the boat and whilst she may not be absolutely overwhelmed with happiness she believes herself to have a fairly regular marriage to a decent man who loves his children.  She believes that, right up to the day that a body is found in her garage and it turns out it’s just one victim amongst many.  From thereon in Gina’s life will never be the same again.

We then pick up the story with Gwen Proctor and her two children Atlanta and Connor.  Basically Gina has gone on the run with her two children – not from the law, ironically enough, but from the relentless hoard of stalkers and trolls who believe that she was her husband’s accomplice and inundate her daily with hate mail and threats.  The three of them have moved house and changed names many times and Gina/Gwen has practically turned into Sarah Connor from Terminator – kick ass, gun toting super mum who will protect her children at all costs.  For the moment they seem to have found a home of sorts, a place by the lake that they’ve had to fix up but for the time being feel some sort of security living in.  Unfortunately their brief respite is short lived when a body turns up in the lake – a body that seems to mimic the horrors from their past.  Is this a coincidence or are things going on.

I really enjoyed this, the writing is very good, which wasn’t a surprise from this author, the characters were well drawn, there was just the right amount of information delivered in a steady stream that kept answering my internal questions more or less as soon as they occurred to me and on top of that the author creates this wonderfully tense atmosphere.  This is the sort of book that keeps the reader on edge almost as much as the family they’re reading about.  It felt like everyone was a potential threat to be honest and I almost found myself jumping every time there was a knock on Gwen’s door or a stranger walked by her property.  I think what really adds to this is that you feel so overwhelmingly sorry for this family.  They may not have suffered the same fate as Melvin’s victims but they are nonetheless undoubtedly suffering and their lives are far from normal.  Gwen is like a boiling mess of paranoia and guilt.  Why didn’t she know what her husband was really like and more than that how will her children ever be able to live normal lives again.

The setting was really well planned.  I loved the way the author creates an atmosphere so peaceful and calm one minute and then in the next twists that tranquillity around so that from a different angle it turns into something more creepy and sinister.  Similarly with the characters.  You meet people who feel genuine and you almost want to slap Gwen because she’s so stand offish and sometimes just downright rude to them, you want to shake her and say ‘come on, eventually you’ll have to trust somebody’ but then again, moments later it turns out maybe you can’t trust anybody.  I thought that was very cleverly done because it builds into the reader the same unease that Gwen herself is experiencing.

The villain of the piece also makes an appearance when Gwen finally visits him in jail to confront him about certain issues and boy does he come across as evil incarnate.  It seems he has his own followers and he may be in prison for life but that doesn’t mean he’s lost the ability to hurt people.

Stillhouse Lake was a step out of the norm for me.  I tend to read mainly fantasy with the odd bit of horror and sometimes historical fiction thrown in for good measure, but I also occasionally enjoy thrillers/chillers and this was a really good choice to throw into the mix.  It’s a compelling story that builds slowly to a dramatic conclusion that definitely whets the appetite for what is going to come next.

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.



13 Responses to “Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine”

  1. Tammy

    This is the second review of this book that I’ve read, and I have to say your review is making it even more tempting! I’ll have to carve out some time at some point, thanks for reviewing:-)

  2. sjhigbee

    This sounds great – which I’m heartened about as I have it on my TBR pile:)

  3. Book Club Mom

    An interesting twist to the usual thriller/suspense novel. Thanks for sharing – and sigh, another on my TBR list!

  4. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Sometimes stepping out of one’s comfort zone can be a fascinating experience: certainly, judging from your impassioned and engaging review, this is what this book was for you, and I can’t wait to see for myself how this author deals with her change of pace from her previous work.
    Thanks for sharing!! 🙂

  5. Danya @ Fine Print

    Hooray, I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed this! I’m a big Rachel Caine fan and I do have a copy of this already so I’ll definitely be reading it soon. The setting sounds awesome and Gwen seems like a solid protagonist, too.

  6. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I couldn’t put this down either, it was intense! From the very first page I was hooked, especially that prologue which had me on the edge of my seat!

  7. jessicabookworm

    Sounds like a great summer/beach read 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      Jessica – it was really quite compelling and unputdownable tbh. I really enjoyed it.
      Lynn 😀

  8. Jennifer | Book Den

    I love stories like this! Could someone really live with a monster and not know it? I didn’t want to put this one down, and now I’m anxious for the next one. 🙂

  9. August : My Month in Review | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] The Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine […]

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