I’m not going to lie, when I got an email with a link to download this book from the publisher, I didn’t even read the synopsis. I saw this gorgeous cover and added it to my kindle without a second thought. I know they say never judge a book by its cover, but this is the exception because this cover perfectly describes the vibes of this book and oh my gosh, it’s so good!
Thank you to Macmillan and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC for review. This is a spoiler free, honest review and all thoughts and feelings are my own.
Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone
Published: September 28, 2021
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Genre: YA Fantasy
A lush gothic fantasy about monsters and magic, set on the banks of a cursed lake. Perfect for fans of Naomi Novik and Brigid Kemmerer.
There are monsters in the world.
When Violeta Graceling arrives at haunted Lakesedge estate, she expects to find a monster. She knows the terrifying rumors about Rowan Sylvanan, who drowned his entire family when he was a boy. But neither the estate nor the monster are what they seem.
There are monsters in the woods.
As Leta falls for Rowan, she discovers he is bound to the Lord Under, the sinister death god lurking in the black waters of the lake. A creature to whom Leta is inexplicably drawn…
There’s a monster in the shadows, and now it knows my name.
Now, to save Rowan—and herself—Leta must confront the darkness in her past, including unraveling the mystery of her connection to the Lord Under.
My first reaction after finishing this book went a little something like this:
rereads the last few pages over and over again.
OH MY GOSH.
keeps rereading last few pages and hopes that the ending makes sense or has changed in the last few seconds.
immediately texts friends.
sits in stunned silence as I comprehend the ending.
goes to Goodreads and hits 5 stars.
So yeah, this book left me in a state of anguish and turmoil that I can’t even begin to comprehend. This is the first in a series (THANKFULLY) so this book kind of leaves off on a cliffhanger. And I say cliffhanger because we’re not entirely sure what exactly happened, or at least I’m not sure what really happened. There are a few possibilities, but only one of them makes me happy and the others make me want to scream!
Okay, so plotwise this book gives me dark Beauty and the Beast vibes, but is not a retelling, as well as Hades and Persephone vibes, primarily with the world of the dead and the pomegranate. We have dark and light magic, a cursed and misunderstood Lord, and lots of creepy, spooky moments with the Corrupted lake and the Lord Under.
We have our main character Violeta who I’m pretty sure is demisexual and I have two quotes to confirm it. Our main love interest, Rowan, is bisexual or pansexual, which I say because it’s not confirmed which one, we just know he likes men and women. MC’s little brother is also queer (also not confirmed since he’s only 13) and the Rowan’s friend and alchemist Clover is also queer. There are a lot of queer characters in this book, which was so nice!
So basically, we have ace spectrum rep, wlw rep, mlm rep, and bisexual/pansexual rep!
The characters themselves were interesting, though Violeta is very stereotypical in her thinking as a YA main character. Always sacrificing herself for others at her own expense and being willing to hurt herself or die for the people she loves. While heartfelt, sometimes it’s a bit much. I think Violeta is a nice person and a good MC, but sometimes I want to see the characters be a little selfish. No person is always selfless and giving, so why should characters in a book always be?
Rowan was a great love interest and I could see the connection sparking between them. This enemies to lovers takes a turn when we realize that Rowan isn’t the bad guy, not even close, and there are darker beings at play. His personality is more than just being the brooding, depressed love interest though – he’s also a good big brother lol – I’m just kidding. We get to learn about Rowan and his hobbies/interests when he was younger and the story of how all of this came to be. I honestly feel so bad for him.
The other characters, like the Lord Under, were also interesting. While some side characters are more one dimensional than others, like Violeta’s adopted Mom, we also get some fully formed characters too. Clover and the Lord Under are the first to come to mind. They’re not just there to be a part of the story, they are like living, breathing people. While Violeta’s brother, Arien, and Rowan’s servant and guard, Florence, are just kind of there. We get little bits of personality and their purpose other than just being there, but not much honestly.
Now, the Lord Under, he’s a favorite of mine. As the ruler of the afterlife, he will sometimes offer assistance to humans as they near death and offer them a deal. These deals often come with a price and many consequences, so one must be careful to strike up an agreement and be critical on what they want to give up. While I’m still not sure what his motivations are yet, I liked his role in this book. And by the end, clearly I was distraught.
Overall, this book left me slack jawed for several minutes while I re-read the ending many times over, trying to figure out what just happened. The magic of this world is very dark and intense which makes the vibes that much spookier! I read this book in under three hours because I couldn’t put it down. I’m so excited for the next book!
If you like spooky books with magic gone wrong, check out these books! I’ve linked my spoiler free review for them, so feel free to check them out!
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova
The Girls Are Never Gone by Sarah Glenn Marsh
The Lost Girls: A Vampire Revenge Story by Sonia Hartl
The Devil Makes Three by Tori Bovalino
The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould
Small Favors by Erin A. Craig