The Room by the Lake by Emma Dibdin
PUBLISHED BY HEAD OF ZEUS
REVIEW BY BECK BORONA
From accomplished writer – and daughter of crime author Michael Dibdin – Emma Dibdin’s debut novel the Room by the Lake explores the concepts of mental health, loneliness and vulnerability.
This thriller, by independent publisher Head of Zeus, centres on young Caitlin who flees England to New York, unable to cope with her alcoholic father and the death of her mother.
At first feeling high anxiety in social situations while on her own in a new city, she meets good-looking and alluring Jake at a party. When Jake takes her on a mini-break to a lakeside house in the woods, Caitlin is excited at the premise of a budding relationship.
Soon, Caitlin realises the house is actually the home of Jake’s support group. The leader of the commune Don explains that Caitlin doesn’t have to stay if she feels uncomfortable. But she's unable to get home immediately despite being furious for Jake’s deception – so she stays for a few days, eventually getting drawn in to the bohemian, energetic and natural-loving group members.
And for the first time in a long time, Caitlin feels supported and part of a loving family as they exercise, cook and partake in group therapy sessions together.
Caitlin’s perception of reality starts to drift as she feels her freedom slipping, and she begins to question some of the other group members, including Jake. Yet her own waning sanity keeps her torn between staying and leaving.
Dibdin does a fantastic job building a seemingly idyllic lifestyle and the credibility behind cult culture. I enjoyed how eventually Caitlin becomes an untrustworthy narrator, similar to the likes of the Girl on The Train, and I was constantly questioning who to believe. A thought-provoking and gripping read that displays the susceptibility of a fragile mind.
Find this novel in store at Planet Books. Ask the friendly staff for guidance too, and they’ll be more than happy to order you in a copy if it’s already sold out.