Author: Lyndall Clipstone
Pub. Date: September 28, 2021
Pub: Henry Holt & Co.
Genre: YA Gothic 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.
This will be a spoiler free review. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review. This was one of my most anticipated reads for the latter half of 2021 and it didn’t meet my expectations. While it wasn’t a bad book and the ending had me a bit emotional, I was kind of bored through the whole thing. I really didn’t get the vibes I was hoping for and expected.
I’m really bummed I didn’t love this book as much as I was expecting to. I know people who absolutely loved it and that cranked up my excitement. But I don’t know if it was the format, or the fact that I listened to parts of it on audio, but it really didn’t do much for me. Will I be reading the next book? Probably. I’m interested in seeing where the story goes – what’s in store for Violeta and the rest of the cast. The ending definitely had me the most engaged – it leaves you wanting more.
I love dark, atmospheric gothic books. Especially this time of the year. While I don’t like horror or being scared in general, I do love a book that wigs me out a bit and makes me want to put on a flowing dress and run barefoot through an abandoned manor.
Also, if you throw in monsters and a personification of Death – I’m sold.
But this book really didn’t have me sitting on the edge of my seat, or mildly wigged out. I was just kind of meh about it. Not good, but also not bad. I don’t know if my expectations were too high, or if I just wasn’t in the mood, but I was almost counting minutes until the book was over.
I love the anticipation and tension that builds in these kind of gothic horror books – and I just didn’t really feel any of it with this book. I also think that this book should have been NA. It felt like it was supposed to be NA.
I also really didn’t like the MC. I don’t think she’s an unlikable character – I can see her strengths. I just thought she was annoying. I can appreciate her wanting to protect her brother, but it’s like her whole personality and I wasn’t feeling it.
I also didn’t love the relationship between Violeta and Rowan – I didn’t buy into it. It felt too obvious. She had better chemistry with her brother, and the Lord Under. I liked that Rowan was misunderstood but fully embraced the monstrous persona. And I did like that their character arcs kind of mirrored each other. I think they complimented each other pretty well, I just didn’t love the romantic chemistry. Maybe I needed more screen time, or more tension between them – but they just felt a little flat. Up until the ending, and then I could have sworn I would die for them.
God, I hope the next book features some kind of relationship with the Lord Under. You can’t give me a Death God and not expect me to fall for him – regardless of how bad he is. Maybe that’s weird to hope for, but it’s a whole other more dangerous dynamic. An enticing dynamic. I just want to see how it goes. The whole ending was probably my favorite part of this book. Not because the book was ending, because suddenly the tension racketed up and the stakes were serious. It hooked me. I was finally actually invested in what was happening. For the ending alone, I’d pick up the second book. I just wish the whole book had, had that vibe for me.
I wanted so badly to love this, and rave about it. But I’m just kind of whatever about it. Definitely read it if you’ve been looking forward to it. Give it a chance and hey, buy it for the cover alone, because it’s fucking gorgeous. I’m looking forward to seeing what Clipstone writes in the future and I’ll be checking it out.