Author : Emma Dibdin
Title : The Room by the Lake
Pages : 368
Publisher : Head of Zeus
Publication date : August 10, 2017
When Caitlin moved from London to New York, she thought she had left her problems behind: her alcoholic father, her dead mother, the pressure to succeed. But now, down to her last dollar in a foreign city, she is desperately lonely.
Then she meets Jake. Handsome, smart, slightly damaged Jake. He lives off-grid, in a lakeside commune whose members practise regular exercise and frequent group therapy. Before long, Caitlin has settled into her idyllic new home.
It looks like she has found the fresh start she longed for. But, as the commune tightens its grip on her freedom and her sanity, Caitlin realizes too late that she might become lost forever.
There will probably never be a time when cults stop being utterly fascinating. How do they work? What drives people to join them? How are they manipulated into staying? What happens if they decide they’d like to leave? These are all questions that make an excellent premise for a thriller.
Caitlin is lost. She’s left her homeland, England, without a clear plan and has ended up in New York. She is lonely, has no job, no goals and barely any money. Then she meets Jake and there’s an instant attraction so when he says he’d like to introduce her to his family, Caitlin agrees. But Jake’s family isn’t your typical set-up and before she realises it, Caitlin finds herself in a truly dangerous situation.
Caitlin’s mother was a schizophrenic and Caitlin constantly worries she may suffer the same fate. Practically stranded in this big and busy city with nobody to turn to, she seems to make the perfect “victim” for cult members to zero in on. Caitlin seems quite vulnerable and maybe slightly naive at times, but she’s actually a lot stronger than she realises. The story truly shows how easily someone can be “broken” when you deprive them of the bare necessities like decent food and sleep. How things that at one point sound rather innocent, can suddenly come across as incredibly threatening. In that respect, this tale is quite scary and thought-provoking.
I found this book to be quite slow for the most part until the final chapters, where the pace picked up considerably. I think I would have preferred something a tad more thrilling and gripping. I needed some more tension to truly keep me hooked. But the author does succeed in adding a threatening vibe throughout and even managed to make me wonder if Caitlin was a reliable narrator or not. Overall, I enjoyed this one and it’s a great debut by Emma Dibdin, whose writing was almost as mesmerising as the cult members themselves.
Many thanks to Head of Zeus for my copy, which I received via Netgalley and chose to review honestly!
The Room by the Lake is available now!