2021 Reading Challenge

2021 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 3 books toward her goal of 245 books.

Book Review: A House at the Bottom of a Lake by Josh Malerman

I’m still not sure how I feel about this one… It was creepy and cool for a while (the tone is totally captured by the amazing cover). And it was also weirdly vague and left me at a bit of a loss. Sure, suspension of disbelief is a major requirement – but that is the case in a lot of what I read, so that doesn’t bother me in and of itself. Yes, a vague non-ending is becoming de rigeur in this type of story – but ditto. Neither of those on their own throws me off of a story, but something about the way they played out in this one is why I’m hesitant to recommend it and unsure whether I enjoyed it or not…

Don’t get me wrong – I am not sorry I read it and never even considered stopping. Malerman has an easy writing style that doesn’t require a lot of effort, which means even if you’re not sure about how things are going, it’s very easy to stay with the story and keep flipping pages. The characters were left pretty (deliberately, I suspect) undeveloped. This a story about atmosphere and magic, and Malerman did an excellent job establishing both and continuing to ramp things up right until the book ended. But something about the whole read left me feeling like things were unfinished – and not just the way it ended/stopped.

I don’t know what that is or how else to explain it, but this one felt like it was a work in progress. Not in the sense of being raw or unedited – but in the sense that even the author wasn’t entirely sure what was happening or why… It was disorienting, which may well have been what he was going for, but which left me feeling odd throughout…

I had a hard time with Unbury Carol and have wanted to read Inspection but haven’t had the chance – this experience still leaves me curious to try more of his writing, despite my issues with Unbury Carol. Malerman intrigues me, largely because of his unusual plots (and this one was no exception there) but he also confuses me a bit – not necessarily in a bad way, but in a somewhat unsettling one (again, this may be the point). It makes for an unusual read that is definitely NOT going to be for everyone. For me, I suspect it’s got to be the right time to read a book like this – you need a headspace that is willing to meander into strangeness and I don’t always have that – but when it is, even if it’s not a perfect fit as is the case here, the story still entertains. And at the end of the day, that’s why I read fiction…

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my obligation-free review copy.

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