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Review: A House At The Bottom Of A Lake

Written by The Indie Huntress on Friday, November 11 2016 and posted in Features

Review: A House At The Bottom Of A Lake

Book review on the newly release horror novella, so good I came out of retirement to write this.


Source: Josh Malerman

My God...What did I just read?

Seriously. I just finished off devouring 112 page novella, "A House At The Bottom Of A Lake", by Josh Malerman. I couldn't put it down. I love reading, I always have. I can remember being a kid and burning through books, excited for a new story. I can remember being overwhelmed with excitement at different points, trying to read faster because I had to know what was going to happen. I hadn't felt that in a long time. My heart pounded and I laughed out loud at different points, high on the words. I had to finish the book in one shot. Granted it was a short book, but I had to. The anticipation was too great for a break.

The story is about two 17 year old kids, James and Amelia. James works at the hardware store his father owns. He approaches Amelia about a date, suggesting they go out on his uncle's canoe. The conversation that is between Amelia and James reads and feels exactly like it should. A couple of kids, awkward in their ways trying to impress one another, being self conscience, and wanting more. The exploration of young love. It wasn't overdone nor was it a stereotypical romance. It flowed perfectly, including the inner thoughts one has, while stumbling to court another. It's part of what built the anticipation, wanting to know what was going to happen between these two. Make no mistake though, this was not a typical romance story. The horror elements soon came. 

Their date was to be on a lake that sat at the base of mountains, and a second lake joins up with it. However, once there they discover a large hidden tunnel. Just barely squeezing through to find out what is on the other side, they are shocked to see a third lake. The area around it completely uninhabited. It is much smaller than the previous two areas, but holds a great secret beneath the surface: a house. The two make the decision to dive in, one at a time to see what it holds. James first, then Amelia...each making different discoveries and nearly drowning, being overly obsessed to see what secrets could be discovered. Everything in the home stays in place and doesn't float as it should. Giddy at all they have found, they decide to come back with scuba gear...but coming back doesn't necessarily mean their safety will be ensured.

josh 2

The two return, equipped with gear to dive deeper into the depths of the house. The further they go in, the stranger and more exciting things become. The house and its contents defy natural laws as books are intact, paintings whole, furniture in pristine condition, yet all underwater...James and Amelia made a pact to not ask hows or whys, to simply enjoy whatever they would find inside. At the peak of James' dive, things start going wrong, a flashlight goes out, his cord for his dive suit is stuck, other warning signs pop up... But this is too great of a discovery to abandon. Amelia is too excited and turned on at the thought of the house for James to back out now. He presses on. They are driven to a deeper passion and obsession with each new discovery. They shed their virginity with each other in the house, and as their heated love session is coming to a close, they find they are not alone...

The cliffhanger. I think Josh has redefined that term in his writing. He has made a significant impact in the literary world, especially with his award winning novel, "Bird Box". That book changed books for me, it was a powerful experience I will not forget. It pulled me into it in such a way that I stayed up throughout an entire night to finish the book in one sitting. I was obsessed with every page turn and that need to continue only burned brighter. It was the same thing with this book. What I appreciate most about Josh's writing is his ability to write horror in such a way that it is guttural, suspenseful, psychological... and like Bird Box, he left the horrors unknown. He doesn't shove a big monster in your face, or spill blood across hundreds of pages, he gets inside your mind and makes your own fears come to life. He works that ability to his advantage- creating a deep feeling of trepidation. 


(Photo by Allison Laako) 

I urge you to find a copy of Bird Box and A House at the Bottom of a Lake. These are both amazing experiences to go through. I say experience, because to me that is what it is. You are there in the book with them, feeling everything the characters feel and more. Even if you are not a horror fan, these are still incredible books that I would say anyone could find common ground in. My only complaint is that I could have read those stories for days and wish they were longer, but I appreciate why they are left hanging. That is his method and it makes sense. Leaving some for the imagination is always a beautiful thing.

You can find all of Josh's books on Amazon here:



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About the Author - The Indie Huntress

Indie is an on and off again writer for The Outhouse. She fell deeply in love with independent comics a few years ago, and has made that her focus. She loves all forms, types, and styles. She is genuinely excited to see what people have created and admires the passion put into comics greatly.
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