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.
I enjoyed the gothic atmosphere of the visually stunning movie Crimson Peak. It’s used as a comp title for this novel, and the cover really sets the tone for the story.
If you’re looking for an atmospheric read for this time of year, this is it. With a bleak manor, sinister woods, cursed black lake, and young, mysterious lord said to have drowned his family, it’s easy to immerse yourself in this world. You’ll want to learn its hidden secrets.
After losing their parents at a young age, Leta and her brother, Arien are taken in by a woman who was initially kind to them, but became cruel and abusive when Arien began showing signs of dark magic. Rowan Sylvanan, lord of Lakesedge estate, sees something in him and takes them in, but Leta isn’t sure if their situation is improved. Soon after settling in, it becomes clear Rowan isn’t the monster he’s rumored to be, but instead is cursed by a deal he made with the Lord Under as a child. The estate and lands surrounding it are slowly dying from a magical corruption, and Rowan needs Leta’s and Arien’s help in defeating it.
Leta is extremely overprotective of Arien and, although annoying at first, the reason becomes clear. I thought he was around eight-years-old, but was surprised he’s actually thirteen. For me, he reads much younger, although he seems more like a teen as the story progresses. With this gothic tale comes a budding romance between Rowan and Leta, but it doesn’t take center stage. The driving force of the story is about adapting and combining the characters’ magic to conquer the corruption. Leta also has a history with the Lord Under, and they share an unusual connection. It’s something I want to know more about.
I went into this book thinking it was a standalone (there was no mention of a series on NetGalley), but toward the end it quickly became clear things weren’t wrapping up. The sequel releases next fall, so now I’ll have an impatient wait to see what happens after that whopping cliffhanger. If you enjoy dark fantasy with a hint of horror and undercurrents of romance, this is an atmospheric novel I’d recommend.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.