A lush, gothic fantasy from debut author Lyndall Clipstone about monsters and magic, set on the banks of a cursed lake, perfect for fans of Naomi Novik and Brigid Kemmerer.
When Violeta Graceling and her younger brother Arien arrive at the haunted Lakesedge estate, they expect to find a monster. Leta knows the terrifying rumors about Rowan Sylvanan, who drowned his entire family when he was a boy. But neither the estate nor the monster are what they seem.
As Leta falls for Rowan, she discovers he is bound to the Lord Under, the sinister death god lurking in the black waters of the lake. A creature to whom Leta is inexplicably drawn… Now, to save Rowan—and herself—Leta must confront the darkness in her past, including unraveling the mystery of her connection to the Lord Under.
Clipstone's literal-leaning, overwhelmingly white fantasy debut runs the Gothic trope list aesthetically but founders under a looping compulsion for self-sacrifice. Foundling Violeta Graceling, 17, can see her younger brother Arien's nightmares—shadows that claw her through his hands and draw their pious foster mother's violence to burn death god The Lord Under out of him. But when regional lord Rowan—a beautiful, facially scarred 19-year-old who purportedly murdered his family—notices Arien's power and spirits him to the cursed Lakesedge Estate, Violeta forces her way in, obsessed with protecting Arien. Rowan plans to use Arien's magic to mend the Corruption that is poisoning Lakesedge and consuming him. But as dark visions stalk the halls, Violeta discovers that the estate's secrets connect to the magic she traded away in a devil's bargain years ago—and she might have to choose between her attraction to Rowan and mending him and Lakesedge both. Narrator Violeta's controlling reflexes and an unsubtle blurring between desire and violence combine disturbingly with challenges repeatedly solved through self-harm, resulting in a linguistically lush fantasy of helplessness whose plotting frequently bends around emotion rather than developing its own ideas. Ages 14–up.