I actually read this novella two years ago, but was under the impression it had been extended for this Random House release. Why? Well, for starters, several NetGalley reviews mentioned its page count being over 200, and I could have sworn it was more like 100. I then went onto the publisher’s website to look up its details, which showed a page count over 200. However, the Goodreads profile for its original release was around 80 pages shorter. So, you can see how I got confused. But here’s the thing – I didn’t notice anything different. Had I known nothing was extended, I wouldn’t have read this again. Let me tell you why.
A House at the Bottom of a Lake features an interesting premise that doubles as a wonderful backdrop for a coming-of-age tale. In other words, this could have been a really striking story if done a bit differently. The problem I had throughout this cute novella is that it tended to drag. There were too many scenes that were solid, but lacking excitement. It’s not that this having a love story is any issue – it’s that the love story is a little too naive and youthful. It seemed like I was reading about thirteen year olds, not high school seniors.
It also feels like very little happens when it comes to the mysterious house. It takes too long for anything to really develop, and once it does, there still isn’t enough coming from it. And the ending? I’m not sure if I like it or hate it. I’ve read this book twice now and I’m still torn.
If you’re a diehard Malerman fan (there are plenty out there), chances are you’ll love this one. For people like me – who haven’t yet been blown away by his work – then this probably won’t be the book to do it. I’m still waiting for my five star experience. As far as this one stands, A House at the Bottom of a Lake is solid, but not satisfying enough for shelf recommendation.
Review by Aiden Merchant
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