Friday, January 19, 2018

Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

A freak accident shatters the seemingly perfect life that Gina Royal was living - loving husband, two perfect children, and the comfortable family home.  It turns out that her husband was not the loving man she thought he was, he was in fact a sadistic killer who tortured and killed women a stones throw from the family home.  Gwen was swept up in the case, accused of being an accomplice because no one could believe that she didn't know about the murders when they happened so close to home.  She was finally cleared but not before the damage was done = to her life, and that of her children.

Years later Gina is now Gwen Proctor, living in a small town with her two children, carefully hidden away from the world under yet another new identity.  She may not be in an official witness protection programme, but with some help she has become very good at starting over when her identity is discovered.  She is not just hiding from her past, she is also hiding from the people who stalk her online, threatening violence to her and her children - violence and threats that are both sickening and scary.  It is a careful balancing act, trying to keep one step ahead of the people who are stalking her, while also trying to maintain as normal a life as possible for her family. 

They appear to have found a home on the shores of Stillhouse Lake, but the discovery of a body in the lake brings that slowly tumbling down around her ears.  The body looks as though it could be one of her husband's victims, and what evidence there is seems to point towards Gwen.  As her real identity is revealed Gwen is forced to make some difficult choices, and when she is cornered she calls on all her resources to fight for her new life.  Someone is stalking Gwen and her family, but they don't realise that the person they think they are hunting no longer exists - Gina was a meek woman and the perfect victim, but Gwen is not Gina anymore and is stronger than they know.

Stillhouse Lake was a surprise discovery at the local library, and when I picked it up I quickly found myself hooked and not wanting to put it down.  The subject matter was confronting and challenging, but it was also deftly written and very subtle in setting up some of the intense moments that happen throughout the story.  Stillhouse Lake punches well above it's weight, it's 286 pages packed with twists and turns, as well as some intensely emotional moments.  I couldn't help but put myself in Gwen's shoes and wonder what it must have been like to realise that you married a monster, and then on top of that having to live with the venom and threats of people who blame you for not noticing or who refuse to believe that you didn't know about what your husband was doing.  On top of that she has to deal with a teenage daughter who is angry and acting out, and a pre-teen son who is keeping secrets.

This is an intense and highly rewarding read, and I can't wait to get my hands on the next book in the series to see what happens next.  

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Reviewed by Brilla

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