When Lakesedge promised lonely gothic estates, monstrous boys and daring girls, and ethereal writing, it does not disappoint.
It was truly an aesthetic read! Moody and whimsical, and kind of felt perfect for October too. It also very much fits with a lot of the current types of YA fantasies, so if you enjoy books like A Curse So Dark and Lonely, What We Devour, The Dark Tide, & House of Salt and Sorrows, this is basically its cousin.
The Monster of Lakesedge is a boy with long dark hair and a sharp, beautiful face. And somehow that makes all of this so much worse.
I definitely felt the book’s strength was the aesthetics and settings. I initially thought it was modern for some reason, but it’s actually an epic fantasy world! Basically it’s all cottages and little villages with folklore and superstitions, overlooked by the big lord in the manor — who is rumoured to be a monster after killing his whole family. But when he comes to Violeta’s village for their annual tithe, she is like: “Ah, beautiful tortured looking BOY.” Which, you know, he is just that. The world building is sparse but it mostly focuses most on the magic: how there is a Lady Light and a Lord Under, how the lord’s estate is riddled with foul magical corruption. How if they don’t fix it, it will consume the world. It is about black magic devouring people, the deep sadness of sacrifice, the way you’d die for people you love.
Boys turning into monsters and forced to do monstrous things is so what I like reading, so I loved this aspect a lot. Especially with corrupt poisonous magic eating Rowan alive, and Violeta’s little brother Arien oozing black shadows that he can’t control. Add in a gothic, rambling estate with its lake of horrors and Violeta talking to dark gods? Yes, yes.
I slump back down on the bed. I can’t stop shivering. Because the real horrors of Lakesedge aren’t in this room. They’re on the blackened shore of an endless lake, where a monster fed the ground with his blood. Where my brother will go, with magic and shadows, to try to mend it all.
Two things though:
1. Violeta was a very typical YA heroine who was definitely The Main Character in ever aspect of her life. She always assumed she knew best, crashed every situation without asking clarity from anyone, and would override everyone’s wishes because she Knew Best. Though it came from a place of her just wanting to protect those she loved.
2. If you like slow-paced books, this will be for you!! We have a group of loveable characters working on alchemy and spells at the estate to heal the corruption, but not a lot of plot happens. The romance is also very fast.
Overall, it’s beautifully written and it’s so easy to be sucked into the dark, eerie world of haunts and insidious black magic, contrasted against lovely gardens and estates and lace dresses and romance.
Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for the review copy! Out August, 2021.
There are monsters in the world.
When Violeta Graceling arrives at haunted Lakesedge estate, she expects to find a monster. She knows the terrifying rumours about Rowan Sylvanan, who drowned his entire family when he was a boy. But neither the estate nor the monster are what they seem.
There are monsters in the woods.
As Leta falls for Rowan, she discovers he is bound to the Lord Under, the sinister death god lurking in the black waters of the lake. A creature to whom Leta is inexplicably drawn . . .
There’s a monster in the shadows, and now it knows my name.