Sunday, October 21, 2018

Book Review: "Daughters of the Lake" by Wendy Webb

"Some stories, especially peculiar, hidden ones involving murder and mystery, have a way of bubbling to the surface, especially when wrongs need to be righted. They make themselves heard despite efforts to keep them silent. All in the proper time. And now was the proper time."

Kate's life is in total upheaval. Her marriage is over, since she discovered her husband had cheated on her, and as if that weren't enough, they had worked together, so she had no desire to go back to her job. With nowhere else to turn, she retreats to her parents' home on Lake Superior, in an effort to pull herself and her life together.

Being home with her parents soothes her, but she can't seem to explain the weird dreams she's having, where she is actually someone else—another woman, in fact—as she sees the woman's face instead of hers, hears her voice, even interacts with the woman's husband. When one quiet day in her hometown a body washes up on the shore of the lake, Kate is absolutely shocked to discover it's the body of the woman from her dreams. And inexplicably, Kate is the one who realizes that there was an infant snuggled close to the woman's body, but she doesn't understand how she could have known that.

Once she is able to (mostly) convince the local police she shouldn't be considered a suspect in these murders, Kate is desperate to figure out the identity of the woman, and why she is appearing in her dreams. The deeper she delves into this mystery, the stranger things become, and when she goes to visit her cousin, who runs an inn in the historic house her grandmother once lived in, she makes even more shocking discoveries—which inexplicably are taking both a physical and a mental toll on her.

Who was the woman that died? What happened to her? How can anyone explain the physical and emotional ways this mystery seems to be manifesting itself in Kate? Are these merely reactions to Kate's own emotional stress, or are there actual spirits that are trying to help her—or hinder her—from uncovering the truth? It's going to take the help of Kate's cousin Simon as well as a handsome police detective to get to the bottom of this, and save Kate from possible danger.

I'm being a little vague in my description of the plot because I went into this book knowing nothing and I think it really enhanced my enjoyment of the story. I thought Daughters of the Lake was a great read—a little bit bizarre, a little bit gothic, a little bit melodramatic, and utterly compelling. I wondered how Wendy Webb would pull everything off, and it certainly required some suspension of disbelief, but it didn't detract from the appeal of this story.

I've never read anything by Webb before, and in fact simply stumbled over the book on Amazon the other night, but I was totally impressed and enjoyed this from start to finish. Apparently she's been called the "Queen of the Northern Gothic," and I absolutely loved the setting of this book, so I'll have to check some of her other books out. She's a terrific storyteller, one who knows how to ratchet up suspense while drawing you in completely to her characters.

This is partly a mystery, partly a love story, partly a novel about the secrets that families and towns keep hidden. I could totally see this as a fun and campy movie-of-the-week or something like this, but it's a completely enjoyable read to boot.

Amazon First Reads and Lake Union Publishing provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

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