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?
Rowan Isle House, a single house on a remote lake in the Yorkshire Dales, worn and tired twenty years ago, and even more so now.
Twenty years ago, the house on the lake was inhabited by a man and his daughter. The man has been to war and clearly suffers from severe PTSD, he seems incapable of raising his daughter like any other girl, and has created a kind of army-like environment, treating her like a soldier in training. They live in seclusion, they don’t go to work or school and they live off the land. For the longest time the daughter thinks this is normal, but then she hits puberty and while she doesn’t mind all the soldier stuff – after all it’s what she’s used to – she also wants to do normal teenage things, strike up a friendship, swim in the lake, but her dad can’t deal with that… This part of the story to has a vibe similar to The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne, and it hit it me right in the feels. I felt for the little soldier girl, but also for her father. To me it seems crystal clear that he loves her deeply and he wants her to be safe and happy but his mind is so warped that he doesn’t know how to do that in a normal fatherly manner.
In 2018, Lisa and her three-year-old boy arrive at the house on the lake. Lisa is obviously troubled, running away from something or someone and the relationship with her son is obviously strained. It doesn’t help that the house is in a much worse state than she thought it would be, there’s no electricity, no running water, no heating, and the townsfolk seem to be hiding things from her. This part of the story was very intriguing, however much we find out about Lisa, there always seems to be a part that remains hidden. How did she even know about Rowan Isle House, and what happened to its previous inhabitants?
Jumping back and forth between these two storylines, The House on the Lake captivated me from the shocking prologue to the highly satisfying finale, keeping me on my toes throughout. Once again, Nuala Ellwood has crafted a beautiful, gripping tale that tickled my spidey senses but also hit me in the feels. A story about losing control and taking control, about suppressed anger finding a way out, about friendship, about love, about coming home. Recommended!
The House on the Lake is out on 20 February!
Thanks to Penguin Books and NetGalley for the eARC! All opinions are my own.