The House on the Lake by Nuala Ellwood – Book Review

Title: The House on the Lake

Author: Nuala Ellwood

Genre: Psychological Mystery/Thriller

Publisher: Penguin

Publication Date: February 2020

Rating: 4/5



Lisa needs to disappear. And her friend’s rambling old home in the wilds of Yorkshire seems like the perfect place. It’s miles away from the closest town, and no one there knows her or her little boy, Joe.

But when a woman from the local village comes to visit them, Lisa realizes that she and Joe aren’t as safe as she thought.

What secrets have Rowan Isle House – and her friend – kept hidden all these years?

And what will Lisa have to do to survive, when her past finally catches up with her?


The cover of The House on the Lake totally drew me in and made me want to read it. Happily, the book is just as atmospheric and eerie as the cover! The story follows Lisa, who is escaping a difficult situation with her young son, and arrives at the mysterious house on the lake on the advice of a friend. The narrative is split between Lisa in 2017 and a previous occupant of the house back in 2004, a young girl who lives with her survivalist, ex-army father, a troubled man who clearly suffers from PTSD. Both narratives were intriguingly mysterious and filled with tension and suspense.

There’s an ominous and sinister feeling to this book right from the start which is something I just love in a psychological thriller. As a reader, we don’t have that much information about what Lisa is running from or the circumstances that have led her to the titular house but we do feel the sense of fear and agitation that she is carrying with her and as the story develops we begin to understand why she is in the situation she is in. We also learn how the events of the past concerning the young girl and her father are entwined with the situation years later. I found both aspects really interesting but I did feel a real sense of empathy with the girl whose 2004 diary we are effectively reading. Her father doesn’t treat her like a daughter, or indeed a child, he treats her like a soldier. Her life is effectively a very insular boot camp and she has very little interaction with the real world. It’s an incredibly intense situation and the author conveys the girl’s sense of isolation and loss beautifully.

I don’t want to give anything away so I won’t say any more about the plot, except that everything ties together in a compelling way that I didn’t see coming. I tore through The House on the Lake pretty quickly because I wanted to know how it would end and I think if you enjoy mysteries and thrillers with a strong sense of setting and atmosphere then this book will be right up your street!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. My review is my own honest opinion.

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