A House at the Bottom of a Lake, by Josh Malerman

Nine stars

Having read one of his recent psychological thrillers, I was eager to plunge into this novella by Josh Malerman. James has had his eye on Amelia for a while and has wanted to ask her out but lacked the courage. When the moment arises and they both agree to spend time together, their first date seems cemented. Wanting to try something different, James uses his uncle’s canoe and takes Amelia out on the lake. They paddle together, traversing through a tunnel and into a second connected body of water. This area is much quieter and away from the speedboat traffic. As they drift along, James notices something at the bottom of the lake, pointing it out to Amelia. Could it be a roof… atop an entire house? As they both take the time to peer into the water, James and Amelia learn that the house seems firmly grounded to the lakebed, but cannot fathom what might have brought it there. Taking turns diving down, James and Amelia soon discover that the house is fully furnished and everything is stuck in place—defying any forces of gravity— as if it were meant to be underwater. Planning future dates that focus around more exploration of the house, James and Amelia discover that a love affair is brewing, both between one another and with the house. Other mysteries await the curious reader in this well-developed novella that is distinctly Malerman. Recommended for those who like something a little supernatural and full of symbolism.

I thoroughly enjoyed the single novel I have read by Malerman, but have read some blurbs about others that may surely make their way onto my To Be Read list soon. In this novella, Malerman offers the reader some interesting insight into young love that soon turns into something supernatural. James and Amelia are inseparable throughout much of the piece, making their character development one in the same. Young and still uncertain about life, they share stories about dating and personal struggles before the house takes over all their conversations. Their connection, both physical and mental, gets stronger as the chapters pass, but there is also a struggle that seems to surface, which both pushes them apart and makes their bond even stronger. The house takes on its own persona, becoming more complex and alluring as the story moves forward. Its presence is the crux of the early narrative and soon becomes part of the psychological thrill of the entire novella. The story was decent enough, morphing from a teenage crush into something that envelopes them both and takes over their lives. Obsession, but not of the typical teenager variety. My father, who was an English teacher, would surely rage, as I choose not to delve into the many instances of symbolism throughout the piece. The attentive reader who enjoys finding these instances will be buoyed by the story’s strength on many levels. Malerman offers the reader with some spine tingles akin to some of the great psychological thriller writers of the time, proving that he is not an author to be dismissed. This shorter piece is easily digested in a single day, though the reader may want to take a break when things get a little intense. Perfect for vacation reading, though some may not want to take it to the beach.

Kudos, Mr. Malerman, for another wonderful piece that will keep me thinking. I needed something short, but the memory of the writing lingers!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons