ARC Review: Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone

About the Book:

Title: Lakesedge

Author: Lyndall Clipstone

Series: World at the Lake’s Edge

Page Length: 384

Publication Date: Sept. 28, 2021

Publisher: Henry Holt & Company

Synopsis: A lush gothic fantasy about monsters and magic, set on the banks of a cursed lake. Perfect for fans of Naomi Novik and Brigid Kemmerer.

There are monsters in the world.

When Violeta Graceling arrives at haunted Lakesedge estate, she expects to find a monster. She knows the terrifying rumors 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.

Now, to save Rowan—and herself—Leta must confront the darkness in her past, including unraveling the mystery of her connection to the Lord Under. 

LINKS:     Goodreads    |      Amazon    |   

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My Review:

When the author posted this on Twitter, I knew I had to read the book:

“My debut gothic romance, LAKESEDGE, will emerge in 2021, full of:
🖤monster boys who gift you pretty dresses
🗝️secret gardens and bramble thorns
💀death gods who whisper your name in the dark
🕯️honey scented altar candles
🌑almost-kisses at midnight”

Ummmm, yes, please!!!

A perfect blend of Gothic, horror, and romance, Lakesedge has a haunted atmosphere and ominous tone from the beginning. The story follows Violeta, a girl who will stop at nothing to protect her beloved younger brother Arien, who is plagued by nightmares and consumed by darkness and shadows. When the Monster of Lakesedge learns of Arien’s abilities, he comes for her brother and brings Arien and Violeta Lakesedge, the place where he supposedly murdered his entire family. But Rowan is not the monster he seems, and there are far more dangers at Lakesedge than Violeta ever imagined.

The more Violeta learns about Lakesedge, its black lake, and the people who inhabit it, the more she realizes that she might be the key to saving her brother, Rowan, and the world from the darkness that threatens to swallow them all. However, Violeta and Rowan must first face the horrors of the present, the burdens of the past, and their connection to the Lord Under. Dark and atmospheric, this Gothic romance is all about the lengths people will go to protect the people they love. The bonds of siblings, the love of community, the deep friendships – all of these are worth saving, protecting, and fighting for.

I love the characters, especially Violeta and Rowan. Selfless, brave, and burdened, Violeta and Rowan are more alike than they realize. Violeta and Rowan sacrificed so much when they made deals with the Lord Under as young children. Their decisions changed everything, and both have lived with the fear, shame, and guilt, as well as the never-ending need to make things right, for a long time. They are broken in many ways, yet they both show such strength, determination, and selflessness too. They are unbelievably well-layered characters.

For the first time, I imagine how it might feel to stare into the shadows with someone at my side.

Their love story is also wonderful. An enemies-to-friends-to-lovers romance, it is a gradual and lovely story. Both have such complicated lives that neither ever thought about finding love or happiness, but that’s often when it happens, which is the case for this couple. I like how they slowly learn to trust each other and how their bond strengthens throughout the story. Considering how dark and complicated their lives are, it’s lovely to see them find happiness with each other even though their relationship is riddled with obstacles. Their tender scenes offer hope and possibility in an otherwise bleak situation.

The other characters are intriguing as well, though they are not as developed as Violeta and Rowan. I especially love the found family aspect of the book. While at Lakesedge, Violeta and Arien bond with Clover, an alchemist who trains them, and Florence, the caretaker. They are all outcasts in their own way, and yet together they are a strong and whole unit. I love that these characters found a home with each other and learned what it felt like to belong. This found family also offers hope and strength in the midst of darkness.

Just because you can do this alone doesn’t mean you have to be alone when you do it.

The magical elements are intriguing and frightening in equal measure. The house, the lake, the blood sacrifices, Arien’s powers, the connection to the Lord Under (who is like the lord of the underworld), and the setting all contribute to the Gothic feel of the book. I’m also super intrigued by Lord Under, who is both frightening and seductive. I’m not sure how I feel about him. Do I hate him? Do I love him? I still don’t know, and the way the story ended made me so eager to find out more about this enigmatic character.

I thoroughly enjoyed this read. It’s dark and scary and romantic and fascinating and a great start to the World at the Lake’s Edge series. I think the book will appeal to readers who like dark YA Gothic romance with dynamic characters, vivid world-building, and a unique plot. Thanks so much to NetGalley, Lyndall Clipstone, and the publisher for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.


Favorite Parts:

  • The Gothic romance vibes. I’m loving these YA Gothic romances this year!
  • The love story.
  • The found family.

Favorite Lines:

How can we be together when the world is set to shatter around us?

It hurts to remember. It hurts to forget.

My family is smoke and ash, and their soul sleep far in the world Below, but these memories inside me are vivid. They will never be gone.

For love is as strong as death.


I would recommend that you check the content/trigger warnings before you begin the book as there are some elements that could trigger readers.

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