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Goodreads⎮Reviewed July 2018
Narrator: Emily Sutton-Smith
Length: 10 hours 4 minutes
Publisher: Brilliance Audio⎮2017
Synopsis: Gina Royal is the definition of average – a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor – the ultimate warrior mom.
With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.
But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake – and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed – or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.
5★ Audiobook⎮Stillhouse Lake kept me riveted, both mentally and physically. There were times when I was frozen in anticipation of the next sentence. Listening to Stillhouse Lake more closely mirrored the experience of watching a gripping television drama than listening to a story. I felt as if I could see everything play out in front of me. Audiobooks are popular for the convenience of multitasking, but the gripping intensity of Stillhouse Lake drove me to a one track mind.
This was my first Rachel Caine book. I’ve started two others in the past, Glass Houses and Ink and Bone, but never really connected to them. Because of that, I was a little hesitant to begin Stillhouse Lake. However, once I read the synopsis, I just knew I would enjoy it. Something about it reminded me of Kelley Armstrong’s Casey Duncan series, which I devoured it a few months ago. They share a common theme of abused women trying to disappear but finding more trouble in the process. I’ve always known that I like “strong female leads”, as a Netflix calls it. But what I like even more is when the female lead has to dig down deep to find strength she never knew she had. That type of empowering character development really appeals to me.
Similarly, Stillhouse Lake reminded me even more of Laura Lippmann’s And When She Was Good, which I just finished last month. There’s something really chilling about an abusive villain who has been locked away, yet whose reach still extends beyond prison bars. How does one ever feel safe, especially with kids involved? Stillhouse Lake brought to mind all sorts of enigmatic questions surrounding a serial killer’s other victims- his surviving family.
I’m dying (bad choice of wording) to see Stillhouse Lake adapted on screen. I know it would do well. As a protagonist, Gina/Gwen was extremely likable. Moreover, she was intelligent. There were no stupid mistakes or miscommunications for the sake of cheap drama. Caine didn’t need them. The mystery was woven together brilliantly. Even though I had suspected the culprit earlier on, I was kept on my toes enough to never be 100% certain. It certainly wasn’t outright predictable and I could have never guessed the extent of how it would play out. Stillhouse Lake was a thrill ride with tangible, endearing characters and exhilarating action.
I immediately knew I would be continuing on with the series, which has three installments, two of which have already been released. However, upon finishing Stillhouse Lake, I briefly wondered whether or not I should “take a breather” between installments because the first one had been so intense. Stillhouse Lake had invaded my thoughts and even my dreams. Ultimately, the decision was made for me because the next installment, Killman Creek, isn’t available via my listening service (Scribd) until the end of the month.
Narration review: Emily Sutton-Smith’s narration made Stillhouse Lake come to life. The approach she took (firm, dry, distant) was perfect for Gwen Procter. One of the reasons I’ve never made it through Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires series is the narration. Sutton-Smith did not disappoint. Her tone set the scene for Stillhouse Lake and it never wavered. It also enhanced the characters, especially helping me to get inside the mind of Gwen Proctor. Although I’ve never heard her perform before, Emily Sutton-Smith is definitely on my radar now. ♣︎