Lakesedge / Lyndall Clipstone / Book Review



Violeta Graceling knows monsters are real, and she knows her brother isn't one. Discovered on the side of the road as children, shadows have plagued the Graceling siblings for a long time--especially little Arien. Their foster mother believes these shadows to be the Lord Under's work, a touch of the devil himself. But the young Lord Sylvanan, a monster in his own right, sees things differently. When Lord Sylvanan decides to take Arien to his manor--the very manor where he murdered all of his family--Violeta knows she can't stay behind. She has always protected her little brother. She certainly won't stop protecting him now.


  • Death and Decay: Shadows and shadowy dreams: this world is full of creeping darkness. The Lord Under himself is seeping onto the page. This book is rife with chilly fog and creeping "corruption" that sets the world on edge. Blighted trees, inky black lakes, and living monsters: all the Gothic trappings you could want make the page. 
  • Slithering Secrets: Along with the shadows come the secrets. This book is full of half-truths not quite spoken. These unspoken bits leave the world feeling uncanny, off-kilter--on-edge. And when the secrets get revealed, they leave the world reeling, because even our first-person narrator herself keeps things hidden from the audience--and herself. 
  • Ageless Love Story: Anyone who likes a beastly love story is bound to appreciate this one. This love story has a beauty-and-the-beast feeling to it. It has a Hades-and-Persephone vibe. Those who like the Gothic flair of those possibly-deadly love stories will appreciate these characters falling into familiar (if still tantalizing) roles. 


  • Character Disconnect: Things get too deep too quickly. That is, I didn't feel I knew the characters well enough to understand the depths of Violeta's horror, terror, and fear. Her emotions were so extreme--and so pendulous--that I needed more of a footing in her character before being thrown right into her narration. Because I didn't know her enough to justify her moods, I felt really disconnected from the drive of her narrative. I didn't connect. I wasn't rooting for her. I was barely understanding where she was coming from. This book lays no groundwork, and without the groundwork, there's no emotional payoff--and no emotional connection at all. 
  • First Person Present: A lot of people complain of this narrative type. It usually doesn't bother me. It is so common, after all, that I might have to give up reading YA altogether if it did bother me. Here, however, this narrative decision contributed to my disconnect. The voice was at once annoying and very bland. Violeta does not make a good narrator--most especially because she doesn't have a personally compelling narrative arc. Her voice really called attention to the choice of tense and person. In a good narration, a reader won't notice--or even will appreciate the choice made. Here, however, it called all sorts of bad attention to itself. 
  • Agentless Protagonist: The most frustrating thing about Violeta as a narrator is her utter lack of agency. She makes no real choices. She in no way affects anything until the very end (and even then, it is somewhat questionable). Most problematic of all, she asks absolutely no questions and just sinks into an endless refrain of "don't" while trying to stop others around her from acting like agents in the situation. Maybe she was jealous they were figuring things out when she couldn't even ask what was happening. Who knows? It was frustrating, whatever the case, to follow a character constantly trying to run away, to stop anything from happening, who ultimately never succeeded because she couldn't commit to anything. She doesn't try to understand things or learn things. She doesn't grow for the better. Therefore, she can never actually be an agent. She doesn't know what she's up against, and she doesn't care to know. She just kind of stands there--and threatens to run away every once in a while, to spice things up. 



Those who enjoyed Rosamund Hodge's Cruel Beauty will appreciate this dark love story. Anyone who liked Martine Leavitt's Keturah and Lord Death will enjoy the flirting-with-death that happens in these pages as well. 


Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Date: September 28, 2021
Series: World at the Lake's Edge

Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


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