Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas and I’m excited to be able to share my review with you.
The Secret by the Lake is a richly-drawn, gothic novel. It is one of those books that hooks you in on the first page and doesn’t let you go even when you’ve finished reading! I started reading this late one evening and when I turned the last page it was the early hours of the morning; I lost all concept of time or where I was, I was completely and utterly engrossed!
Amy had a difficult childhood when her mother walked out on her and her dad. As soon as she was old enough she found work as a nanny looking after Julia and Alain Laurent’s daughter Viviane. Amy was very happy with the family, spending a lot of time in France. Then one day a phone call brings news that she must return home and leave the Laurents for good. Whilst back in England Amy gets word that Alain has died and Julia is now back living in England with Viviane and they are struggling to cope.
I try and avoid hearing too much about books before I read them these days as I prefer the element of surprise as much as possible. So when I started this novel I had no idea how spooky it was going to be, it was really unsettling to read at times. I tend to stay away from ghostly stories as I’m easily scared but it says so much about how great the writing is in this book that even when it was really frightening me, I still could not stop reading. It was so compelling and it genuinely was near impossible to put down. I actually finished reading this the early hours of Monday morning as I just kept thinking one more chapter and beforeI knew it, it was 3.30am and I’d finished the book!
I possibly should have guessed from the striking and very atmospheric cover that this would be a haunting novel. I particularly love how the woman on the front cover is holding the umbrella which causes her to form the shape of a key, and a lot of the mystery in this novel comes from a locked room. The cover perfectly captures the essence of this book.
The wallpaper in the locked room is yellow, and Caroline was locked in there because people said she was crazy and out of control. It seems to be referencing Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, and possibly touching on the idea of the madwoman in the attic too, which straight away ramps up the claustrophobia surrounding this room and causes you to wonder what happened there, and what happened to Caroline. The descriptions of how grotesque the wallpaper looked as it was coming away from the wall genuinely repulsed me and made me shiver! The novel also had a feel of Du Maurier’s Rebecca about it too, the creepy atmosphere, the secret of what had happened before Amy arrived.
I love how the lake that features so strongly in this novel, was almost a character in its own right. That body of water held so many secrets and have so many stories to tell, but the dense fog that often covered it was suppressing the lake, the village, the secrets and some of the people who lived around it.
I loved Amy, I thought she was a great character who developed a real sense of tenacity as the book progressed. She just wanted to help and assist where she could, she was determined to find out what had happened to Caroline and to find a way to make Julia feel better. I liked that although Amy fell for Daniel quickly, she still kept things on her terms and she didn’t become a simpering, meek character because she’d found a man. Daniel seemed to give Amy strength, he gave her space to escape to but it never took away from who she was.
I have read a couple of Louise Douglas’ previous novels but I’m now definitely going to buy the ones I haven’t read, I feel sure I’ve just found a new favourite author!
This is a beautifully haunting novel that will have you hooked from the first page to the last! I rate this novel 5 out of 5 and highly recommend it.
I received this book from Transworld/Black Swan via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
The Secret by the Lake is out now and available to buy from Amazon.
A FAMILY TRAGEDY
Amy’s always felt like something’s been missing in her life. When a tragedy forces the family she works for as a nanny to retreat to a small lakeside cottage, she realises she cannot leave them now.
A SISTER’S SECRET
But Amy finds something unsettling about the cottage by the lake. This is where the children’s mother spent her childhood – and the place where her sister disappeared mysteriously at just seventeen.
A WEB OF LIES
Soon Amy becomes tangled in the missing sister’s story as dark truths begin rising to the surface. But can Amy unlock the secrets of the past before they repeat themselves?
About the Author
Louise was born in Sheffield, but has lived in Somerset since she was 18. She has three grown up sons and lives with her husband Kevin. The Secret By The Lake is Louise’s sixth novel and she currently writes around her full time job.
In her spare time, Louise loves walking with her two dogs in the Mendip Hills, meeting up with her friends and she’s also an avid reader.