The Room by the Lake by Emma Dibdin
Published: 10th August 2017
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Available in Hardcover and on Kindle
BlurbWhen Caitlin left London for New York, she thought she'd left her problems behind: her alcoholic father, her dead mother, the unrelenting pressure to succeed. But now, down to her last dollar in a strange city, she is desperately lonely.
Then she finds Jake. Handsome, smart, slightly damaged Jake. And he wants her to meet his family.
He takes her to a lake house in the middle of the woods – in the middle of nowhere. The community there live off-grid. They believe in regular exercise and group therapy. And they're friendly. Really friendly.
Turns out they're not Jake's real family – but isn't family exactly what she's running from?
But as the days drift by, Caitlin starts to feel uneasy. Now that she's no longer running, does she risk getting lost forever?
Emma Dibdin’s debut novel The Room by the Lake is a cleverly written and chilling insight into cult life experienced through our main character Caitlin’s eyes.
Caitlin has arrived in New York after fleeing London and her troubles. Her mother has recently died and she can’t bear to fight with her father over his alcoholism anymore. So she leaves her house, throws her phone in the river and gets on a plane to New York. But now she’s here she desperately lonely, bored and starting to run out of money. Then one night she meets Jake, handsome rugged and slightly damaged she’s instantly drawn to him. After spending a week together Jake asks her to come and visit his family’s lake house a few hours away. Reluctantly Caitlin agrees but she’s not sure more family is what she needs. When she arrives she realises they are not his actual family but a group of people living off-grid and following a regime of exercise, mind therapy and special diets. They seem friendly enough so Caitlin agrees to stay for a while but it’s not long before she starts to get an uneasy feeling about exactly what is going on in this lakeside community.
Right from the start this book made me feel a little unnerved and I felt worried for Caitlin, who seems very lost. She tries to strike up random conversations with strangers in order to become part of their world but this doesn’t work and leaves her more desperate. When she meets Jake she feels like she’s struck gold he seems perfect as he gives her the affection she’s been longing for. I found it very scary just how easily Caitlin was convinced to stay at the lakeside community. She doesn’t seem to question any part of the authority which leader figure Don has instilled in her almost instantly, but then this is what Caitlin has been craving from her father, someone to set boundaries and give punishments.
The majority of the other characters in this book remain a little vague but this works well in the setting they are in, all their personalities seem to mould together and form a united view of the world. The only character other than Jake and Caitlin that I liked was Tyra. There are moments when we see the fun loving cheeky girl she used to be, I wish there had been more of these moments.
There is an eeriness to this book which slowly builds throughout the book making it a very gripping story as you want to read more to find out what this bad thing you’re dreading is. Emma Dibdin has created the perfect atmosphere for this genre and created a very intense read which you won’t be able to put down. As a debut novel I think The Room by the Lake is brilliant and I’m looking forward to what Emma Dibdin has to offer next.
Thank you to Head of Zeus for sending me this copy to review and for inviting me on this blog tour.