Book Review: A House at the Bottom of a Lake by Josh Malerman

Both seventeen. Both afraid. But both saying yes.

It sounded like the perfect first date: canoeing across a chain of lakes, sandwiches and beer in the cooler. But teenagers Amelia and James discover something below the water’s surface that changes their lives forever.
It’s got two stories.

It’s got a garden.

And the front door is open.

It’s a house at the bottom of a lake.

For the teens, there is only one rule: no questions. And yet, how could a place so spectacular come with no price tag? While the duo plays house beneath the waves, one reality remains:

Just because a house is empty, doesn’t mean nobody’s home.

I don’t know about you but when I read that synopsis, I felt goosebumps down my spine and couldn’t wait to dive into this horror novella. Although I haven’t read many thrillers/horrors, it is a genre that I’m exploring more and would love any recommendations.

So about halfway through this book (only about 50 pages, it’s quite short) I thought to myself, ‘Where is the horror?’, ‘What is this book actually about?’ Well, I will attempt to explain:

To start off, we follow James and Amelia as they are canoeing whilst on a first date and subsequently come across a house submerged at the bottom of a secluded lake. Following this, the pair become obsessed with the house and start to visit it more frequently, buying diving equipment so they are able to stay in the house for longer. They one by one dive down to the house and begin exploring it’s various rooms when some strange things begin to happen.

I would like to state that I didn’t hate this book, I just don’t think it was for me. I had very high expectations going into it, 1. because I read Bird Box (also by Josh Malerman) and absolutely loved it and 2. because it sounded like a book that was going to freak me out and blow my mind at the same time. In my opinion, this book was not a horror. I feel like it was more of a suspense that focused a lot on the growing relationship of the main characters rather than the house.

Of course weird things do happen in this book. By saying it isn’t a horror, I’m not saying that nothing creepy happens, because it does. But I felt that the ‘horror’ aspect of this was left kind of unexplained. The book built up a lot of suspense only to sort of flop at the end. I honestly finished the book and didn’t understand what I’d read.

Whilst it sounds like I didn’t enjoy any of this book, one thing I did enjoy was the writing. I loved Malerman’s writing in Bird Box and can say that I felt the same way for this book. I think he is excellent at creating atmosphere and more than a few times I found myself looking over my shoulder thinking something was behind me.

Overall I gave this book 2, maybe 2.5 stars. I think this book is suited to a certain audience and I can see why people like this but unfortunately it wasn’t for me. In saying that, I still want to pick up more books by this author as they all sound so interesting!

Rating: ⭐⭐

If you have read this book I would love to know what you thought. Thank you for reading!

Alisha x

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20 // UK // Hufflepuff // Coffee Addict // Most Important - Bookworm!

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