Today I am thrilled to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for Isabel Ashdown’s latest psychological thriller, Lake Child. Set in the stunningly beautiful Norwegian fjords, this baby will have you lulled into a false sense of serenity whilst continually pummelling you with an intense family drama full of unexpected twists and heart wrenching moments. If you like a little nail biting while your emotions get played like a dollar store banjo, then this one will certainly be for you!
Title: Lake Child
Author: Isabel Ashdown
Publication Date: September 19, 2019
Genre: Psychological Triller, Mystery
Themes: Amnesia, Family, Trauma, Romance
My Rating: 5/ 5
You trust your family. They love you. Don’t they?
When 17-year-old Eva Olsen awakes after a horrific accident that has left her bedbound, her parents are right by her side. Caring and kind, they watch over her night and day in the attic room of their family home in the forests of Norway.
But the accident has left Eva without her most recent memories. And someone isn’t telling her the truth. As secrets from the night of the accident begin to surface, Eva realises – she has to escape her parents’ house and discover the truth. But what if someone doesn’t want her to find it?
An edge-of-your-seat, atmospheric psychological thriller for fans of The Sinner and Sharp Objects.
Eva has been in a terrible accident, and when she wakes up nothing is as it seems. Her memories of the recent past remain tantalizingly out of reach, the driver of the vehicle she was found in can’t be located, her best friends are mysteriously absent from her life, and her parents are keeping some pretty big secrets. And to make things worse, it appears that the police might be in on the deception. Whether it’s to keep her under control or for her own good, Eva is locked away 24/7 in the attic of her parents home and begins to go to extreme measures to gain even a paltry glimpse of freedom, claw back her memories, and uncover the secrets that everyone seems so desperate to keep from her.
I can’t say a whole lot more without dropping some serious spoilers, but hold hell what an amazing rollercoaster ride! I was gripping my seat for 90% of the book and bawling my face off for the other 10%. I mean, I got so wrapped up in Eva’s story that I almost forgot to eat dinner the first night that I picked this baby up. Everything from her parents approach to Eva’s recovery to attempting to solve her own case, and from reconnecting with her friends to Eva’s budding romance, is so emotionally fraught that it hurts.
As a result, I found Eva to be a realistic and rather likeable character, even before her memories start to come back. I mean sure, she’s impulsive, emotional, and a little (okay, a lot) dramatic at times but it all added to her charm. It helps to remember that she was just 17 when she was in a horrific accident, survived a coma, and woke up to some serious amnesia – I rather thought she was handling her situation impeccably well, even if some of her decisions were a little misguided. Investigations are hard enough, let alone when the primary witness can’t remember a thing and no one seems willing to tell the truth. Now add a very sweet romance with a junior officer into the emotional maelstrom that is Eva’s life and you have just enough hope to light the way.
Her parents, Ingrid and Tobias, were also incredibly compelling characters. Their stories are buried a little deeper than Eva’s but no less important. I spent most of the book judging and hating them for their actions against their daughter, but had to check my bias and assumptions when their leg of the plot finally started to come to light. I ended siding with them, locked attic room and all, because of their unwavering dedication to their daughter, the tenderness with which they treated her, and then lengths that they went through to ensure that Eva was safe and thriving.
Really though, this story had it all including some incredibly misdirecting leads in the investigation into Eva’s accident. I mean it has everything! Creepy, inappropriate weirdo who makes inappropriate passes at young girls? Got one. Strangers running around the woods in the dead of the night? Yep, got those too. Skeezy, drug-dealing bartenders who serves minors? Can’t leave him out. Ashdown really likes to keep you guessing and it’s utterly fantastic.
But that’s not all, just as things start to look like they’re on the upswing an incredible secondary plot rears it’s head and steals the show entirely. Double the mystery, double the fun, this tantalizing secondary plot is set in London and subtly brings all of the disparate pieces of Eva’s story together. There is a fabulous interplay between the two tracts and the tension created by them is palpable. And just in case Eva’s accident wasn’t enough of a mystery, this little twist injects endless possibilities and keeps you guessing page after page. Up until the London plot came into play I thought that I had this story all figured out and then bam! everything I thought I knew went straight out the window. The ending was so far from what I expected that I had to take a few days to digest it before I could sit down and write my review – it was fantastic!
Lake Child is equal parts cerebral and engaging, and Ashdown’s delectable prose will leave you craving more. If you like mystery, drama, and some seriously deep character building I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Borrow it from the library, buy it for yourself, buy it for your friends, or maybe even get a start on your Christmas shopping and buy a case load – it’s worth it.
About The Author
Isabel’s writing career first took off after she studied as a mature student at the University of Chichester, from where she graduated with a first class degree in English, and a Masters in Creative Writing with distinction. This ‘late bloomer’ return to education confirmed to her what she long suspected: all she really wanted to do was write. While still studying, an extract of her debut novel Glasshopper won a national writing competition judged by Fay Weldon, Michael Ridpath and the late Sir John Mortimer and the published book was twice named among the Best Books of the Year. More recently, her thrillers Little Sister and Beautiful Liars have been Amazon bestsellers, going on to be shortlisted in the Dead Good Reader Awards 2018 and 2019.
Having taught creative writing at various festivals and institutions across the country, Isabel was a recent Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Chichester, where she worked with individual students to help them make their writing the best it could be. Her work with the Royal Literary Fund continues, as she now leads a community ‘Reading Round’, a group aimed at bringing readers together for the sheer pleasure of the written word. Her essay on the subject of voice features in Writing a First Novel by Karen Stevens (Palgrave MacMillan 2014).
Isabel was born in London, grew up on the south coast and now lives in West Sussex with her family. She is a member of the Society of Authors.
Many thanks to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for inviting me to join in this tour, and for providing copy in exchange for an honest review.