Horror fans have been graced with some extremely good fortune over the past few years. The fiction of fear has been reinvigorated by some great veteran authors and, more importantly, by some uber talented young authors who are bringing new voices and fresh ideas to the genre. The reason I say “more importantly” is that those younger faces are the future of the genre. Their popularity and success is crucial to the vibrancy and variety of selections we will have from here on out. The good news is that many of them are seeing some remarkable success, receiving high praise from readers and critics and adding promise to an already promising outlook in our chosen field of entertainment. That statement couldn’t be more true about any one dark fiction writer than it is about the incredibly gifted phenomenon that is Josh Malerman, creator of the groundbreaking breakout novel Bird Box and one fifth of the brilliant team that brought us I Can Taste the Blood from Grey Matter Press.
In A House at the Bottom of a Lake we meet Amelia and James, two teenagers canoeing across a chain of lakes on a first date. In a third body of water that they didn’t know existed they discover something strange and wonderful. A house, perfectly preserved, fully furnished, pristine and beautiful. Resting on the bottom of the lake. As young people discovering love for the first time are wont to do, they decide to make it their secret place, spending their nights floating on a raft tethered above the bulk of the unusual structure and their days swimming through it, exploring with the boldness and curiosity of teenagers. But as the two youths will discover, there’s more to this spectacular place than meets the eye, the secrets it harbors dark and potentially exacting a heavy toll in exchange for it’s miracles of discovery.
Josh Malerman’s stories always sound like a peyote induced fever dream when you read the synopsis, the premise always dark, surreal, and promising fear and danger aplenty, and A House at the Bottom of a Lake delivers on that promise in spades. Malerman has a knack for the slow burn and for leading you toward one destination only to discover you’ve arrived somewhere else entirely. In this new novella, he presents us with a touching, endearing love story, slowly building his characters with the deftness and alacrity of a master conductor, his symphony of words slowly ascending to a crashing crescendo of bone deep emotion and blood chilling terror. We find ourselves falling in love right along with the two teens, fearing for their safety at every new turn as the house begins to seem more and more ominous, the strange hidden lake haunted, forbidden, and harboring a potentially terrible secret.
I could go on and on with the semi-starstruck awe I feel towards Malerman’s work in general and this book in particular but it would be so incredibly easy to spoil the hell out of the story and it would be criminal to deprive you of the wonders waiting to be discovered in this beautiful story of love, obsession, and ultimately, spine-tingling terror that you’ll find in A House at the Bottom of a Lake. Malerman writes like a man possessed, his prose sharp, his chapters quick and concise, and his pacing like a punch to the inside of your skull, driving his story to a stunning and brilliant climax that will leave you breathless and wanting more.
Josh Malerman is one of the best horror authors currently working and if you haven’t read his work, you’re robbing yourself. There’s no better place to start than right here with A House at the Bottom of a Lake, so go get that one and don’t be surprised if you find yourself seeking out the rest of his work soon after.
Publisher: This Is Horror
eBook: 150 pp
Release Date: October 31, 2016