When Caitlin moved from London to New York, she thought she had left her problems behind: her alcoholic father, her dead mother, the pressure to succeed. But now, down to her last dollar in a foreign city, she is desperately lonely. Then she meets Jake. Handsome, smart, slightly damaged Jake. He lives off-grid, in a lakeside commune whose members practise regular exercise and frequent group therapy. Before long, Caitlin has settled into her idyllic new home. It looks like she has found the fresh start she longed for. But, as the commune tightens its grip on her freedom and her sanity, Caitlin realizes too late that she might become lost forever…
Isn’t that cover stunning? And the title is inspiring enough: The Room By The Lake. I only knew the book was about a mysterious cult, but I had no idea about the actual plot. And this novel definitely proved to be something completely original. I thought it might be a psychological thriller, but it wasn’t exactly that. And I don’t know how to properly explain what this was…
When it comes to the characters, Caitlin is the absolute protagonist. She was a complex and likable character, no doubt about that. Her relationship with her father isn’t easy, so she flees to New York hoping for a new beginning. She then meets Jake and Jake introduces her to his “family”. But his family isn’t what we would expect… And they’re so weird. But strangely magnetic, too.
I absolutely loved Emma Dibdin’s writing and her ability to make us care about Caitlin, the way she described her feelings, her fears, and dreams. This is not an easy novel to describe, so I’m going to keep things brief and simple. I’ll just say it’s much better to experience it.
While the first part of the book was mysterious yet slow-paced, the second part of the novel was something completely different. It was like being inside of someone’s head. A dreamy and confusing set of scenes where you didn’t know what was exactly going on.
The Room By The Lake is an original story, not the typical cult book and definitely not a thriller. The ending was a bit underwhelming perhaps, but the story was nevertheless a breath of fresh air.
ARC, Head of Zeus, 2017