Archive | 10:46 AM

Book Review: A House at the Bottom of a Lake by Josh Malerman (4/5)

28 Jun

I must have added this book to my list after enjoying Bird Box so thoroughly. Malerman is quite prolific and I was glad to find a quick story to enjoy. This was perfect to pick up on my phone as I rocked the baby to sleep. Though having a horror story and reading it in the dark might not be the best combination.


Cover image via Amazon

A House at the Bottom of a Lake by Josh Malerman

Other books by Malerman reviewed on this blog:

Bird Box

Summary from Amazon:

The story begins: young lovers, anxious to connect, agree to a first date, thinking outside of the box.

At seventeen years old, James and Amelia can feel the rest of their lives beginning. They have got this summer and this summer alone to experience the extraordinary.

But they didn’t expect to find it in a house at the bottom of a lake.

The house is cold and dark, but it’s also their own.

Caution be damned, until being carefree becomes dangerous. For the teens must decide: swim deeper into the house—all the while falling deeper in love?

Whatever they do, they will never be able to turn their backs on what they discovered together. And what they learned:

Just because a house is empty, doesn’t mean nobody’s home.

Again, Malerman has a lovely slow burn to his stories. This didn’t feel like a horror story at first but you could tell something was brewing. It didn’t take long for it to start to feel creepy and strange, but nothing had me squirming until about 25% in when I was freaked out! Amelia and James’ story was really fun to follow and I enjoyed how their relationship changed with the house. You knew something was coming but it took time to figure out what.

Amelia and James seemed real to me. They felt like teenagers and I got the feeling they could even be here in my native Michigan (also native to the author). The only part that seemed a bit off was how quickly they acquired SCUBA gear and became proficient. It seemed a bit convenient but understandably important to the story.

I liked James best. He seemed the most level headed of the two. Especially as time went on and he started to question what was happening. Amelia was so engrossed in their experiences and enthralled and she didn’t want to know why or how, but James started to see through it.

The young love part of their story was easy to relate to and I think many people experience it to some degree in their youth. You questioned if they were in love with each other, the house, or novelty. At first, it can be hard to tell. A summer fling is a common story, but one that involves a mystical house is way more fun.


Josh Malerman Image via Nelson Literary Agency

I enjoyed the middle of the book as they were exploring the house most and were learning the limits of what they could explore and experience. You weren’t sure when things were going to turn bad, but you knew they would. The tension was wonderful and kept me reading fast.

I wanted one more chapter at the end, just to learn a little bit more about what was happening. I guess that’s part of the suspense and tension, that it ended when it did. I appreciated the story and how in a sense it didn’t end even though I didn’t know what happened next. I swiped to the next screen expecting just a paragraph more and felt a tinge of disappointment.

I’m not sure I can identify too many themes in this one besides the young love I mentioned before. Amelia and James experienced something outside the realm of what one can expect to experience that we can’t judge their reactions against our own. I don’t know what I’d do if I found a house at the bottom of a lake. I’d probably write a book about it.

Writer’s Takeaway: The tension built slowly in this book. In a small number of pages, Malerman gave us a great sense that something was amiss and was about to go wrong. While I don’t write in this genre, all stories build to a climax and keeping the story learning forward, pushing to that ending, is a great skill to have. I want to keep reading Malerman stories and I have another on my list I’m itching for now.

A great quick read that kept me on the edge of my seat. Four out of Five Stars

This book fulfills the 2000-Present time period of the When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Related Posts:
A House at the Bottom of a Lake by Josh Malerman | The Book Lover’s Boudoir
‘A House at the Bottom of a Lake’ Josh Malerman | I Swoon Over Fictional Men
A House at the Bottom of a Lake, by Josh Malerman | Book Reviews to Ponder
Book Review: A House at the Bottom of a Lake by Josh Malerman | Sarah’s Corner