The story begins: young lovers, anxious to connect, agree to a first date, thinking outside of the box.
At seventeen years old, James and Amelia can feel the rest of their lives beginning. They have got this summer and this summer alone to experience the extraordinary. But they didn't expect to find it in a house at the bottom of a lake. The house is cold and dark, but it's also their own. Caution be damned, until being carefree becomes dangerous. For the teens must decide: swim deeper into the house--all the while falling deeper in love?
Whatever they do, they will never be able to turn their backs on what they discovered together. And what they learned:
Just because a house is empty, doesn't mean nobody's home.
[Malerman's] latest effort,A House at the Bottom of a Lake, is a quick read --- almost qualifying as a novella ... A House at the Bottom of a Lake is a magical tale, rife with imagery that you will think about long after putting the book down. For me, the ending fondly recalled Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, and I am sure it will surprise most readers. Josh Malerman is simply one solid storyteller!
Although this has the necessary elements for a horror story, there’s no true sense of the horrific. Instead, it’s filled with the wonder of childhood curiosity, belief in the magical, of exploration of the unknown, of having an adventure. The occasional lyrical, if darkly poetical, descriptions of the underwater dwelling definitely give it a mystical, otherworldly flavor, beautiful, but with a hint of danger crouching at its edges ... This is a lovely, slightly eerie, and definitely haunting story—of the magic of young love and the attraction of the unknown. And the ending? Interpret it as you will.
Malerman masterfully builds tension, balancing the exuberance of first love with the foreboding mystery of the house. The uncanny elements and strange, evocative setting will keep readers flipping pages, but the atmosphere never gives way to more visceral scares and the underwhelming resolution leaves the mystery dangling. Readers shouldn’t expect any concrete thrills, but fans of Malerman’s precise prose will be pleased to explore this new and unsettling world.