The Room by the Lake by Emma Dibdin

Review published on September 2, 2017.

Caitlin is lost; after her mother dies and her father turns to alcohol, she flees to New York to escape it all. Alone, confused and afraid of what’s next, she meets Jake. He’s taken a few knocks in life too and they quickly become involved. When he takes her to meet his family, who live off the grid near a lake, Caitlin hopes for a fresh start. But all is not what it seems and soon Caitlin wonders what she’s gotten herself into.

This is a beautiful book, both inside and out – the hardback has gorgeous endpapers which perfectly reflect the setting of the story. I was immediately sucked into the writing, which is easy to read. With a languid pace, we are drip fed clues as to the origin of the group Caitlin becomes involved with and it is easy for the reader to sense that something is amiss. There is an uncomfortable undertone to the book that slowly builds until our suspicions are confirmed and the action ramps up.

I liked Caitlin; she is young and just naïve enough to make it believable that she would be drawn into the seemingly idyllic life by the lake. There is a sense that she is always alone – she is isolated from her family, she is the outsider when she joins the group and, paradoxically, she becomes more isolated the closer she gets to her fellow devotees.

The other characters aren’t as well rounded, but I think that’s deliberate on the author’s part – it aids in the ‘who do you trust’ vibe that permeates the book. I’ve recommended this to a few friends now, and I think it would prompt some excellent discussion for a book group.

Vicky Jopling 4/5

The Room by the Lake by Emma Dibdin
Head of Zeus 9781786694027 hbk Aug 2017

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