Book review: The House on the Lake by Nuala Ellwood

When Lisa needs to escape her controlling husband, a friend offers her the use of a rambling old home in the wilds of Yorkshire which seems like the perfect place. It’s miles away from the closest town, and no one there knows Lisa or her little boy, Joe. But when a woman from the local village comes to visit them, Lisa realises that she and Joe aren’t as safe as she thought.

What secrets have Rowan Isle House – and her friend – kept hidden all these years? And what will Lisa have to do to survive, when her past finally catches up with her?

I found this a dark, troubling story about control and the long-reaching effects of abuse. There are two story lines – Lisa’s and an eleven year-old girl called Grace who lived at Rowan House in 2002 with her dad, a former soldier suffering from PTSD. He trains Grace as a soldier, keeping her away from the outside world. It’s clear the two stories will come together at some point but how?

The dilapidated house is ideal for the setting – both a sanctuary and a prison and the bleak location provides a brooding, atmospheric backdrop.

I loved the small cast of characters and thought three year-old Joe was particularly well-drawn – a disturbed, damaged, scary child, the product of what he has witnessed – as of course is Grace.

I’d recommend this book to fans of psychological suspense who like stories about old houses harbouring dark secrets.

My thanks to Penguin and Netgalley for a copy of this book.


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