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A gothic fantasy about monsters and magic, set on the banks of a cursed lake.

There are monsters in the world.

When Violeta Graceling arrives at haunted Lakesedge estate, she expects to find a monster. She 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.

There are monsters in the woods.

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…

There’s a monster in the shadows, and now it knows my name.

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.

384 pages, Hardcover

First published September 28, 2021

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About the author

Lyndall Clipstone

3 books565 followers
Lyndall Clipstone writes about monsters and the girls who like to kiss them. A former youth librarian who grew up running wild in the Barossa Ranges of South Australia, she currently lives in Adelaide, where she tends her own indoor secret garden.

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5 stars
1,136 (17%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,638 reviews
Profile Image for Ellie.
575 reviews2,121 followers
September 1, 2021
The Lord Under, I am free on Thursday if you are, I repeat I am free on Thursday

(Also, Leta, the heroine, is demisexual! Which I think is something really wonderful that should be mentioned more, and has been confirmed by the author. And I'm quietly obsessed with Rowan's ear piercings.)


this book is full of:
> monster boys who gift you pretty dresses
> Old secret gardens and bramble thorns
> death gods who whisper your name in the dark
> honey scented altar candles
> almost-kisses at midnight

Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,203 reviews40.8k followers
March 27, 2023
A dark, gothic fantasy about a monster who collects his tithes from the townies, resides at his mansion sets on the banks of cursed lake where he drowned his own family one by one! If you don’t start screaming and running away yet, this may be good fit for your dark, claustrophobic, suffocating thriller intake!

You get your fix and read your feel-worse book! Sometimes scary things in this book can be therapeutic by distracting us from the real villains at the outer world!

Poor Violeta Graceling was found in the woods with her brother, raised by a woman who tortured both of them to kill the shadows and pure darkness growing inside her thirteen years old brother Arien. Only thing she prays for is providing a safe place and taking care of him.
But their lord Rowan Sylvanan returns back to town for collecting tithes. The dark lord is presumed to massacre his entire family! And now he wants to take his brother drag into the haunted Lakesedge! Hell, no! She cannot let him take away without a fight.

You can guess what is gonna happen next. She loses the fight, reluctantly stepping in Lakesedge estate, meeting with eccentric alchemist Clover and tough, loyal, caretaker Florence and the eerie, empty, freezing, haunted estate slowly brings out the nightmares and secrets she kept about her past.

She realizes Rowan is not the monster she thinks and his connection to Lord Under and the black waters of haunted lake is way more complicated she can absorb. She may be the key to save Rowan, her own brother, her new friends. But she has to be brave enough to cross the path of darkness, learning the ugly truths she restrained for so long. She has a dangerous tithe to pay!

It’s a great, extremely bleak, horrifying but absolutely intriguing beginning of brand new series ends with cliffhanger. I enjoyed this one! I’m looking forward to read the other books of the series. ( it seems like a duology, so let’s say the other book)

Special thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group/ Henry Holt and Co. for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,470 reviews9,633 followers
September 28, 2022
Ok, I’m leaving it at 3 stars for now. The main character got on my nerves so much in the beginning that it turned me off for a bit. I’m in love with Rowan though! I’ll leave my link below to my Owlcrate unboxing with the special edition and goodies ….

There are monsters in the world. There are monsters in the woods.
They slip inside at night. Crawl through the walls of our cottage. They find their way into my brother’s dreams.

Fire to burn out the infection. Sparks that cut through the night sky. The scent of ash. Trees outlined against the moonlight. A whisper through the branches

The Owlcrate edition is beautiful and I’m going to stain the edges red to go with the book. And I might later decide to make it into a junk journal along with some pages and makes the others into bookmarks. If I want the book, I’ll get the original cover edition.

Blog: https://melissa413readsalot.blogspot....

You should be out by the orchard, where violets secretly darken the earth,
Or there in the woods of the twilight, with
northern wind-flowers shaken astir.
Think of me here in the library, trying and
trying a song that is worth
Tears and swords to my heart, arrows no
armour will turn to deter.
-D.H. Lawrence, Letter from
Town: On a Grey Morning in March

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Profile Image for Krystal.
1,454 reviews365 followers
October 14, 2021
Eugh, this ended up being so disappointing.

The blurb promises darkness, monsters, gods. What we get is pieces of other people's stories woven together by a really thin premise: a 'corruption' is taking over and only Leta has the power to save the world.


So here we have: Beauty and the Beast and The Secret Garden, with a little bit of SJM's A Court of Thorns and Roses thrown in for good measure. Leta is forced to stay at this horrible mansion with all of its luxuries under the watchful glare of its mysterious, monstrous lord. Rowan is of course the brooding, misunderstood monster who really just needs love to cure all of his ails.

Everything about this book frustrated me.

I think we're supposed to be impressed by how fearless and headstrong Violeta is but honestly she annoyed me so much. She keeps doing stupid things because she selfishly believes she's the only one capable of doing anything, and she totally smothers her brother under the pretext of 'protecting' him. She argues about everything and yet somehow everyone is impressed by her?

Rowan also did nothing for me because he's your typical control freak who likes to just yell at people to not do things but never actually explain anything, all while awkwardly hitting on Leta then pushing her away in an endless cycle.

The story is so ridiculously repetitive and pointless. Basically, there's a 'corruption' that the gang needs to fix. But it's just constantly the same thing: corruption is bad -> ritual to combat corruption -> ritual goes wrong -> corruption is still bad -> ritual -> goes wrong -> REPEAT ENDLESSLY.

PLUS the bonus of: I really like him -> but he's a monster -> but he's just misunderstood - but he'd never want me -> so I'm totally not into him -> but I like him a lot -> but he's a monster -> not really though -> ETC FOR ETERNITY.

Kill me now.

This whole thing was pointless and painful and repetitive and didn't deliver any of the darkness I was hoping for.

I'm so bummed.

If you're into that whole, 'mysterious brooding monster man falls for Perfectly Ordinary yet Feisty Female' trope you're gonna love this trash. Personally, I felt like so much of this story was just done better elsewhere.

Definitely won't be reading the inevitable sequel.

With thanks and apologies to Macmillan for sending me a copy
Profile Image for Cait Jacobs (Caitsbooks).
303 reviews14.3k followers
September 26, 2021
This is the perfect fall read.

Lakesedge is creepy, ominous, and atmospheric. From horror to romance, this book has it all. I found myself glued to the pages, loving these characters and this world, eager to find out what happens next.

The relationships between all of the characters are at the heart of this story and truly make it shine. I loved the dynamic between our main character and her younger brother that she would do anything to protect. And the romance was absolutely adorable. If you like broody and possibly monstrous love interests, this book is for you. Their banter was so entertaining and I never wanted it to end.

I swear, Lakesedge was made for me. This book has similar vibes to The Haunting of Bly Manor and Down Comes the Night. And did I mention that 90% of the characters are queer? Our protagonist is demisexual, and we also have gay, sapphic, and bi/pan characters. Yeah, I'm officially obsessed.

Can book 2 come out already???

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

(Content Warnings: death, violence, gore, self-harm (for magic), body horror, drowning, vomiting [official list available here])
Profile Image for Nicole.
70 reviews
June 4, 2023
I feel very frustrated by this book. As a Gothic Ho ™, I was very excited for this. Unfortunately it did not live up to my hopes.

I take issue with this story being described as gothic, because even though it uses elements commonly associated with the gothic, they are not applied in the same way here and instead function as a sort of shallow set dressing.

There was also a major issue of telling and not showing throughout the book. I felt like we were told a lot of things, especially about Leta, but then not really shown proof. Like we're constantly told how Rowan is a monster, but it's very clear early on that he isn't and yet Leta won't stop harping on it. I did like Rowan however.

Leta also suffers from major self-sacrifice martyr syndrome that makes her almost unbearable. For someone who we are constantly told is so selfless, she makes a lot of selfish decisions without any forethought whatsoever. She never thinks anything through. Also for a story written in first person, it was strange that halfway through the book Leta internally discloses something major to the reader that she acted like she didn't know about this whole time when she did. Super frustrating.

The LGBTQ rep was also really odd. There would be these random brief mentions of some of the secondary character's sexualities, but then it was never brought up again and these characters were never allowed to be anything other than flat background characters that exist to coddle the main character. If you're going to give us representation, that give us actual representation - this was borderline insulting with its low effort.

I liked the romance a lot. So there's that. But I love a literal devil, so I also want something to happen with the Lord Under despite hating love triangles. I probably need therapy lmao.

I had a few other things to say, but now can no longer remember them. Will update if I do.

edit: lots of use of pet phrases throughout that drove me a bit insane.
what does silt taste like? I am curious but absolutely unwilling to find out first hand
Profile Image for gauri.
182 reviews402 followers
October 11, 2021
as an enjoyer of gothic romance elements, lakesedge sounded very promising. but alas.

yes we have a lonely but beautiful mansion, the "monsters", the sense of eeriness but it all lacked the mysterious aura to complete the atmosphere. everything felt... shallow, like a bunch of tropes the author wanted to write about and dumped them together without any significant story. the plot felt repetitive, i wasn't invested in the romance either — oh everyone thinks this guy is a monster and he tells me to believe that but he saved me once so i don't think he's bad at all and i'm going to figure him out but what if he really is bad?! yeah, no.

written in 1st person, it was really difficult for me to like the protagonist because it was all tell and no show and leta is just a stupidly brave and self sacrificing character. there wasn't any build up either to keep me invested. the entire story is majorly underdeveloped — characters, setting, plot.

maybe some will like it, if you want to read about a flat mc who is scared of her magic and falls for this dark brooding dude with dark magic but personally i was disappointed.

thank you netgalley and publisher for the arc
Profile Image for ʙᴇʟᴀ.: ☾**:.☆*.:。..
200 reviews99 followers
January 15, 2022
If there is a genre lacking in YA is gothic romance or gothic fantasy. This book is a very awaited gothic romance fantasy, and I'm so glad to have read it.
There are creepy elements, dark versus light, a feisty heroine, and a dark brooding hero. The magic system was well done and
I really enjoyed the setting and world-building. I absolutely wanted to know more about the supporting characters and this is where I find it lacking: they could have been more developed, they could have had more depth, growth, instead, they felt flat.
Our two main characters, Leta and Rowan were well constructed and very distinct. I really enjoyed their dynamics. I'm hoping to learn more about Lord Under.
Nevertheless, it is a book with lush prose and beautiful relationships and it definitely kept my interest from the very first page till the end. It is a perfect Fall or Winter read.
I must say I saw all the twists coming (hello tropes) but I'm still excited to see what comes next.
I'll definitely read the next book of this author!
If you enjoy dark fairytales, romance with consent, beautiful friendships and supernatural try this one!
TW: self harm, death, non-graphic sexual content.
Real rating: 3,5 of 5stars
ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review (Thank you!)

You had me at




I'm loving this 2021 trend of Gothic YA!
Profile Image for Kezia Duah.
377 reviews308 followers
October 12, 2022
This was good, but I wasn’t really invested like I wanted to be.

I couldn’t connect to the characters. Violeta had a constant need to handle a lot of shit on her own, and she was also a woman of secrets. She learned to understand things about herself as the story progressed. Her love for her brother was very evident. There were many stories about the kind of man Rowan was but we explored who he really was throughout the story.

Violette and Rowan’s romance felt very rushed.

It ended with a cliffhanger, but I may not read the next one.
Profile Image for rose ✨.
179 reviews93 followers
September 16, 2021
“there are monsters in the woods, in the world. there’s a monster the shadows, and now it knows my name.”

i really should have dnf’ed this one.

i kept reading for the gothic atmosphere and the references to beauty and the beast and hades and persephone, but lakesedge feels so unpolished and incomplete. i know this is the first book in a series, but there were too many plot holes and too many things were left unresolved. i wasn’t intrigued, i was frustrated and confused.

the plot and romance are so repetitive. violeta and her younger brother, arien, are whisked away by the monster of lakesedge after he witnesses arien’s magic. this begins a cycle of “he’s a monster—but he did a nice thing for me—but he’s a monster” before they even arrive at lakesedge, and once they get there, the main plot is just as repetitive: “the magic will work this time—oh no, the magic didn’t work—the magic will definitely work this time!”

the main character is incredibly frustrating. we’re told again and again by other characters that leta is strong, brave, etc., but her behavior is consistently immature and selfish. her thirteen-year-old brother demonstrates more maturity than her. and despite the first person narrative, arguably the most important reveal of the story is dropped randomly in the middle of the book, as if leta herself forgot about this life-changing event until that point.

the other characters were underdeveloped stereotypes. the “monster” boy love interest (who doesn’t actually do anything monstrous—boo. boring). the cottagecore lesbian side character. the gay little brother. the closest this book came to an interesting character was the lord under, who was woefully underutilized (though it does seem like he’ll be more important in the next book).

lakesedge as a whole just felt like the author made a list of popular trends in ya fiction—gothic mansion! monster boy! beauty and the beast! hades and persephone! immortal dude with an unhealthy interest in a teenage girl!—without exploring any of those themes more deeply, so by the end it all felt very shallow.

i received an arc from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

rating: 1/5 stars
Profile Image for Tes - paperbackbones.
58 reviews210 followers
February 12, 2021
RTC but I can let you know now that this atmospheric debut needs to be on your TBR if:

• you longingly daydreamt yourself into the shoes of literature’s greatest gothic heroines (& their flowy gossamer night gowns)

• you just can’t resist falling for Byronic heroes

• you refuse to admit the exact number of times you’ve rewatched Crimson Peak because y i k e s

• you honestly think Alina should have taken the Darkling up on his offer to rule over Ravka

• using your phone’s flashlight to walk around your house at night immediately makes you feel like you’re holding a candelabra and wandering around Northanger Abbey

• you are a sucker for a good Hades/Persephone retelling
Profile Image for Vee_Bookish.
1,342 reviews303 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
October 12, 2021
DNF at p46
I'm just not emotionally equipped to deal with this much second hand embarrassment

- "The monster lets out a terse growl" This is a human shaped boy
- "Then he looks down at my arms and goes quiet. My sleeves are rolled back, baring the bruises..." Not the she's injured and he's feral trope 3 chapters in
- "...his rough breath stirring my hair." Is he a horse why is he breathing like that
- "I gasp as he twists my hair into a knot and leans closer..." how and why is he doing that pls I cannot cope
Profile Image for Lucy.
415 reviews612 followers
October 28, 2021

This book was middle of the road for me: not great but not bad either. Admittedly I was drawn to this book due to this gothic cover. When then reading the plot I thought this book was for me! Gothic setting (love a creepy old isolated house setting), a deep dark woods with a corruption blighting it, a death god, rumours of a monster, and a girl who might just help him and help each other. I was also told there would be a bit of a romance- and I love a gothic romance book.

While many of these elements were present, this book did not have me reaching to pick it up continuously. The author does really well in the atmospheric writing and her descriptions of the manor of Lakesedge, the shadowy magic, the creepy woods- I loved these parts. The author captured the isolation and darkness of the corruption and the manor that I could be immersed in these settings.
However, everything else fell a little flat for me- especially the characters. They were just a bit bland and while I didn’t detest them, I didn’t grow to care for them at all.
Going into this I knew romance was going to happen between two of the characters, however, I wanted the romance for her and the Death God- the only character who seemed a bit more interesting.

In addition, the plot did not have me speeding through to find out more.
I think I was expecting something more suspenseful, gothic or weird than what I actually got. This book is compared to the book “Uprooted” by Naomi Novik and I can see why- maybe if I hadn’t read something very similar to Uprooted I would’ve been more interested ?

Another plus is a small mention of Ariadne and the labyrinth myth re-told, and I loved this little mention of this Greek myth in the book!
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,440 reviews78.1k followers
Shelved as 'dnf-lost-interest'
October 3, 2021
You had me at: "...the notorious Rowan Sylvanan, known as the Monster of Lakesedge,"


*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
Profile Image for S.T. Gibson.
Author 9 books1,461 followers
April 4, 2021
This tasty morsel of a book full of dark waters, family curses, summer bonfires, lakeside summoning rituals, weary boys with monsters inside them, and gods of death who don't play fair was the perfect companion to me when I was feeling down. Leta feels like such a real teen girl, all big emotions and bravery and self-consciousness and a fierce desire for agency! A strong, lyrical debut from a rising star to watch.
Profile Image for Kat valentine ( Katsbookcornerreads).
616 reviews816 followers
August 20, 2022
Lakesedge was a magnificent read!!!!! It is Lydall Clipstone's debut book and I'm so impressed with this writers storytelling! And the cover was so hauntingly beautiful with its gothic scene with the beautiful woman at the bottom of the stairs looking up at the mysterious man hidden in the shadows at the top of the staircase.
It caught my attention right away and reminded me of the gothic romances I read as a young girl. Lakesedge is a hauntingly beautiful read full of magic and mystery with a monster who is said to have killed his whole family so that he might be brought back from the dead by the lord under. Rowan is the monster of Lakesedge and the corruption is getting worst and soon it will take over his body and soul completely unless he can find someone with great magic to push it back. When he goes to the village of greymere to except their tithe he see's Arien in Vair woods with the shadows and blackmails him and his sister Leta in to coming with him to Lakesedge. With no where to go Leta and Arien have no choice, its either go with the monster or stay and be outted by him. From the beginning Leta and Rowan are at each others throats and Leta fears that he will harm her brother. But when she see's what Rowan has had to endure to keep everyone safe and the true story behind the whispered lies she starts to have feelings for him and promises to let her brother help with his magic. But it turns out that Arien isn't the only one who has a gift but so does Leta in fact she's very powerful! She is linked to the lord under and if she wants to save everyone she will have to pay the ultimate price and when dealing with the lord under you'd better pick your words very carefully! Long ago she asked for his help to save her brother and it cost her her magic. Since then he has had a sick fascination with her and has been buying his time til she calls on his help once again. So when he makes another bargain with her what will it cost her! The lord under is tricky and this time he wants nothing more then to have Leta's very soul !!!! I can't wait for book 2 Forestfall to see if Leta and Rowan can finally beat the lord under at his own game! True love always finds a way!! I could go on and on about this book!! I loved it so much!! Until next time Luv's💕💋

I want to thank the author and the publisher and Bookishfirst raffles for this beautiful copy of Lakesedge!!!😉💋
Profile Image for ash.
290 reviews230 followers
September 24, 2021
this book did a great effort to make me care, but i just didn't ://

it is plain at best, rough and unpolished at worst. the gothic atmosphere is great on page, but to me it felt like gothic elements crudely glued together. the book itself felt like the author just wrote what tropes she wanted to happen, what lines she wanted the characters to say, so things are the way they are without any deeper explanation, and it made for a poor storytelling + rough transitions + disjointed writing.

another problem with this book is that the plot devices and characters are underutilized. they are not used to their full potential and so i did not feel the stakes + the conflict felt shallow to me. halfway through the book we get a major reveal from the main character, but what really put me off is that this is told in 1st person. so.. did she just suddenly remember this very important detail? and it was revealed in a manner that was so sudden, no build-up whatsoever. i also struggled to be immersed in the worldbuilding and didn't understand what exactly they were trying to do because the explanations and worldbuilding are so vague and the plot is repetitive.

the protagonist is a perfectly ordinary YA main character, which would usually get 3 stars for me, but she's especially unbearable because she is even more foolish than other YA girls for the sake of moving the story. she is also the typical self-sacrificing main character and it was actually quite exhausting for me to be in her head. all the characters did not bring anything new to the table, and i am obviously disappointed with this book. personally, this book is just not for me and i'm giving it 2 stars (and not 1 star) because i feel like this could be something others would enjoy + it's not completely terrible!
Profile Image for Brittany Smith.
240 reviews245 followers
August 12, 2021
Thank you to Edelweiss and Netgalley and the publishers for this ARC.

Lakesedge promised us monster-y romance, death gods, a gothic manor, a cursed lake, and magic, and it DELIVERED. I devoured this book in a single night.

Lakesedge follows Violeta Graceling, a girl orphaned with her younger brother being raised by a religious woman who took them in, but Violeta’s younger brother, Arien, starts exhibiting signs of dark magic: shadows erupting during the night as he dreams, and the woman punishes them for it.

On the tithe day, Arien’s powers erupt, and the lord of the area sees them and demands they come with him to his estate, Lakesedge. But the lord, Rowan Sylvanan, is a monster, rumored to have killed his entire family before inheriting the estate and lands.

But even if Rowan is a calculating and cruel kinslayer, Rowan needs Arien’s magic to help cleanse a magical corruption that started from the lake at his home, before it consumes Rowan, already half-filled with the corruption himself, Lakesedge, and the rest of the world, with its rot and decay.

Romance blooms between Rowan and Leta, but there is more to both of them than meets the eye, both inexplicably tied to Lord Under, the god of death, and it becomes clear it’s not just Arien who Rowan needs to help cleanse the corruption for good.

Now time for my actual thoughts on the book:

While I don’t think there was anything particularly noteworthy of the writing itself—I only tend to notice writing styles if it’s either terrible or absolutely stunning— it wasn’t bad but it just didn’t jump out at me, I LOVED the romance, I loved the magic systems, I loved the incorporation of the death god and his underworld, blood sacrifices, everything.

Even for me not enjoying young adult books very often anymore, this was amazing. I highly recommend if you’re looking for a good monster love interest fantasy romance.

As for LGBT rep: it was overall a F/M romance, and as far as I could tell the protagonist is straight, but there’s a wlw side character and I believe Rowan likes men as well as women. Found out later the author wrote Leta as demisexual.

Like I said, I devoured this book. It hooked me from the beginning and I felt like I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Now I’m hating that I read it so quickly because I need the next book NOW but it’s 19 months away. What am I supposed to do in the meantime? Bribe the author with a crisp $20 to let me read the unfinished draft of Forestfall? Work more hours at the bookstore to be able to give Lyndall a more sizable bribe?

Add to your TBR and preorder. You need to read this book, just like I NEED to be torn between Lord Under and Rowan Sylvanan, just like Leta.
Profile Image for Amy Imogene Reads.
932 reviews805 followers
February 28, 2022
3 stars

Cool concept, really loved the death lord angle. Annoyed as heck by the main character to the point where I wanted to skim…so a mixed bag of thoughts here.

Concept: ★★★★
Main character: ★ 1/2
Pacing: ★★★
Enjoyment: ★★★

Violeta Graceling and her brother, Arien, live in a wooded world filled with a mysterious blight. They live off of the long-suffering "goodness" of their adoptive mother, who works for the local villager as a painter for the village's important religious icons. It's a light versus the darkness, goodness versus shadow demons type of religion... and to Violeta and Arien's horror, every night Arien wakes to shadows coating his body.

Violeta knows that if Arien could just wish the shadows away, they could be safe. Harsh control is the only answer to Arien's issue...right? (Oh dear)

One day in the village, Arien is caught with his shadows by the visiting lord from the nearby Lakesedge estate: Rowan Sylvanan.

Rowan Sylvanan might be close to Violeta's age, but he's already a nightmare story that parents warn their children about at night. He killed his whole family, they say. He's filled with evil, they say.

Rowan takes one look at Arien and his shadows and makes the decision to take Arien home with him. And because Violeta is fiercely protective of her brother, Rowan begrudgingly takes her too.

But neither the estate nor Rowan are what they seem, and Violeta's going to have to face certain truths whether she's ready for them or not...

Sometimes, it's not really the book's fault or the reader's fault when the reading experience is "meh." Sometimes it's just....the main character. And for Lakesedge, my issues all circle around one thing: Violeta herself.

I thought this world was cool. I loved the gothic atmosphere, the mystique of the estate, the dark shadow magic at the core of the story. I thought the ending in particular was spectacular.

But.... I can't give this more than 3 stars, because for the first half of the book (and frankly, ok, the rest of the book too) I couldn't stand Violeta. When you have a first-person narration with only one POV, a lot of the story rests on that one main character and whether the reader can get behind them and their actions. And I just could not do it.

Violeta was stubborn to the point of dumbness, prejudiced to the point of fear mongering, and at the end of the day she was also... weirdly reactionary to her own story?

(Except for the very, very end where my complaint turns into a spoiler: )

I'm not sure if all of that stands up outside of my own personal opinions, but that was how I felt. Oh well. Another case of "it's not you, book, it's me!"

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Profile Image for Robin.
310 reviews1,458 followers
December 11, 2021
↠ 3 stars

Lakesedge is an alluring gothic romance that drew me in with its hints of haunted estates and old secret gardens. As a lover of all things gothic, Lakesedge initially seemed like a promising read. The atmosphere absolutely hit the mark, a combination both eerie and dark, set on an estate shrouded in mystery. A manor setting has always been top tier for me, so knowing that the plot revolved around unraveling a mystery embedded within made me all the more excited to dive in. Clipstone undoubtedly nailed it with the gothic vibes, enriching the story with dark magic and a search for the end of its corruption. While the setting and atmosphere were stellar, the issue with this debut is that it lacked the depth to back up what it set out to achieve with the plot. The entire book was written in first person, so it fell prey to the classic telling not showing, leading the entire build-up to unexpectedly fall flat. I think the main character Violeta was likable, yet half of her arc involved falling for Rowan, a character whose entire personality was literally just “brooding” and who I did not at all connect with. The romance between them was not there for me either, which furthered my disconnect with the entire storyline. Lakesedge started out on several strong notes, but it was held back by the issues described previously. Honestly, this will probably still hit the mark for a lot of people, especially those that like the brooding love interest and slow drawn-out mystery.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this arc in exchange for an honest review

Trigger Warnings: blood, death, gore, body horror, drowning, grief
Profile Image for Kim.
128 reviews207 followers
November 26, 2021
I need an award for finishing this book.

Lakesedge is one of those books I feel you have to read in as little sittings as possible because if you continuously start and stop it, you're going to lose interest quickly. I felt more engaged when I had long stretches of time to read it vs. when I was picking it up to read whenever I could if I got all my work done early. It also didn't help that the first 50% of the book was so SLOW. The plot started to pick up after the 50% mark, but the book overall was very repetitive-the characters are trying to mend the Corruption, it fails, they go back to training and prepping themselves for the next attempt-rinse, wash, repeat.

I hated Violeta as a character. I'm trying to understand why she does the things that she does and I feel like most of it is because she thinks she's doing what's best for her younger brother, Arien, but she's just constantly making one stupid decision after another. Here's a summary of Violeta the entire book:

Everyone: Hey don't do this, we can find a way to mend the Corruption some other way!

Violeta: lol okay *does exactly what everyone told her not to do*

Everyone: Why the hell did you just do that you put yourself and all of us in danger

Violeta: I did it to protect everyone!!!!!! *gets mad that everyone else is mad*

Aside from not liking Violeta, I hated the writing style as well, and this is what I think contributed the most to my low rating of this book. It's nothing against Lyndall Clipstone as an author, especially since this is her debut novel and authors can only grow from their debut as they continue to write more and find their stride in what works for them and what doesn't. The number of times things were repeated in sets of three and the fragmented sentences just didn't do it for me and made the writing feel very clunky/choppy:

"tap tap tap"
"fine fine fine"
"Let him go, let him go, let him go"
"Please. Please. Please."
"My mother my mother my mother"

"His eyes are the last thing to fade. Hard as polished stones."
"Their power. My power. Light and dark and the scrapes of my magic."
"I fall to my knees and grab for Arien's wrist. Send my power into him."

On top of all of that, I couldn't get into the romance between Violeta and Rowan. It didn't seem believable that she would hate him for taking her and Arien away from their home and spends the majority of the first half of the book calling him "the Monster" but then she falls in love with him as soon as he touches her for the first time. Literally, I'm not even kidding, she falls in love with him as soon as he notices a button on the back of her dress is unbuttoned, offers to button it up for her, and then she's like, "Oh he touched me and I felt ~things~, maybe he's not a monster after all!"

The only redeeming things about this book isn't even the plot or the characters- it's the fact the cover art is pretty and the gothic atmosphere makes it a good mood read for the fall. Other than that, I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone unless you have a ton of spare time to read this or you just want to torture yourself, I don't know haha.

This is only the first book in a duology; Forestfall is the next book coming October 2022 and I'm still deciding if it's worth reading considering it's the last book in the series and Lakesedge left off on an interesting cliffhanger. Right now the only reason I'm considering it is because the series is only 2 books and it wouldn't be a huge investment compared to if it was 3 books or more, but we'll see how I feel about reading it closer to the release date.

Trigger warnings: domestic abuse, death of family members, fire, self-harm for ritualistic purposes, vomiting
1.5 stars, rounded up to 2 because of the pretty cover art and the pretty cover art only
Profile Image for Julie - One Book More.
975 reviews164 followers
September 21, 2021
A perfect blend of Gothic, horror, and romance, Lakesedge has a haunted atmosphere and ominous tone from the beginning. The story follows Violeta, a girl who will stop at nothing to protect her beloved younger brother Arien, who is plagued by nightmares and consumed by darkness and shadows. When the Monster of Lakesedge learns of Arien’s abilities, he comes for her brother and brings Arien and Violeta Lakesedge, the place where he supposedly murdered his entire family. But Rowan is not the monster he seems, and there are far more dangers at Lakesedge than Violeta ever imagined.

The more Violeta learns about Lakesedge, its black lake, and the people who inhabit it, the more she realizes that she might be the key to saving her brother, Rowan, and the world from the darkness that threatens to swallow them all. However, Violeta and Rowan must first face the horrors of the present, the burdens of the past, and their connection to the Lord Under. Dark and atmospheric, this Gothic romance is all about the lengths people will go to protect the people they love. The bonds of siblings, the love of community, the deep friendships – all of these are worth saving, protecting, and fighting for.

I love the characters, especially Violeta and Rowan. Selfless, brave, and burdened, Violeta and Rowan are more alike than they realize. Violeta and Rowan sacrificed so much when they made deals with the Lord Under as young children. Their decisions changed everything, and both have lived with the fear, shame, and guilt, as well as the never-ending need to make things right, for a long time. They are broken in many ways, yet they both show such strength, determination, and selflessness too. They are unbelievably well-layered characters.

Their love story is also wonderful. An enemies-to-friends-to-lovers romance, it is a gradual and lovely story. Both have such complicated lives that neither ever thought about finding love or happiness, but that’s often when it happens, which is the case for this couple. I like how they slowly learn to trust each other and how their bond strengthens throughout the story. Considering how dark and complicated their lives are, it’s lovely to see them find happiness with each other even though their relationship is riddled with obstacles. Their tender scenes offer hope and possibility in an otherwise bleak situation.

The other characters are intriguing as well, though they are not as developed as Violeta and Rowan. I especially love the found family aspect of the book. While at Lakesedge, Violeta and Arien bond with Clover, an alchemist who trains them, and Florence, the caretaker. They are all outcasts in their own way, and yet together they are a strong and whole unit. I love that these characters found a home with each other and learned what it felt like to belong. This found family also offers hope and strength in the midst of darkness.

The magical elements are intriguing and frightening in equal measure. The house, the lake, the blood sacrifices, Arien’s powers, the connection to the Lord Under (who is like the lord of the underworld), and the setting all contribute to the Gothic feel of the book. I’m also super intrigued by Lord Under, who is both frightening and seductive. I’m not sure how I feel about him. Do I hate him? Do I love him? I still don’t know, and the way the story ended made me so eager to find out more about this enigmatic character.

I thoroughly enjoyed this read. It’s dark and scary and romantic and fascinating and a great start to the World at the Lake’s Edge series. I think the book will appeal to readers who like dark YA Gothic romance with dynamic characters, vivid world-building, and a unique plot. Thanks so much to NetGalley, Lyndall Clipstone, and the publisher for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for A Book Shrew.
599 reviews133 followers
March 10, 2022
Okay, now that this book is out and I've read a finished copy, I can finally properly scream about this book!

Full review and more at A Book Shrew

I was most fortunate to read a very early draft of this and am pleased to say that almost two years later my opinions really have not changed. This is a gothic dark gem of a book that has just the best aesthetic vibes. Crimson Peak! Labyrinth! The atmospheric settings and monstrous characters speak to me on a truly primal level.

I really enjoy Leta as a character. She is a fierce little thing with love for all the best people in her life. She is the momma bear to her little brother, always has been since their parents died when he was very young. And I always have mad respect for girls who do whatever it takes to save the ones they love. If that means selling your soul or turning to the dark side, even better. There is a larger theme of sacrifice and terrible bargains made in this book, and Leta's role in all of it was really fun to read.

Of course, I can't mention Leta and ignore Rowan. The Monster of Lakesedge is your typical YA love interest. He's hard and scary on the surface, but inside he is soft and misunderstood. And that is A-OK by me. His relationship/dynamic with Leta was great, and I liked how they got the other to open up and spill their deeper secrets. The interaction of their magic as well was wonderful to read. I do think the romance moved a little too fast but I enjoyed it all the same.

One of the things I really like is the religion this world holds. I am such a sucker for duality gods in fantasy, especially when it fills the story with horror undertones. And the Lord Under was a terrifying opposite to the Lady Above. Just slap a pair of antlers on him and he's the perfect folk horror monster. It's what makes me so excited to read what comes next in Forestfall! The Lord Under promises to have a bigger role, and I love me some good eldritch gods with questionable motives.

First Read
The Lord Under has blessed me in allowing me to read an early version of this ... and y'all are NOT ready for what is coming! I am a puddle of emotion down aisle 3. This gave me major Crimson Peak vibes with monster boys, fierce girls, a troubling lake, and a dark magic that will literally devour whatever gets in its way. 2021 can't come soon enough!
Profile Image for Alex (The Scribe Owl).
350 reviews109 followers
August 30, 2021
See this review and more on my blog, The Scribe Owl!

4/5 stars

Thank you to the author for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Lakesedge was one of my most anticipated books of 2021, and it was pretty good! I had extremely high expectations (sorry, but did you read that synopsis??), which inevitably lead to a little bit of disappointment. Despite that, it was a darkly atmospheric read and perfect for spooky season!

I'm torn on the characters. Leta, our MC, had a surprisingly fun and refreshing sense of humor, but both she and the love interest, Rowan, had a bad case of one of the worst tropes--self-sacrifice. The world is being corrupted? I'll die to save it! My brother is dying? Take me instead! Your shoelace is untied? Here, let me fall on this knife to fix it!

I loved what we saw of the worldbuilding, but I wish we knew more! There's something about religion and holidays--what about the rest of the world? There must be some kind of government because Rowan's a lord, so tell us more! What we know of the world is so interesting, I just wish there was a little bit more.

The very best part of this book was how gothic it was. I LOVE this 2021 trend of gothic YA fantasy books, and it was by far the strongest aspect of Lakesedge! It was incredibly atmospheric and made up for most of the other flaws of the novel.

I was not expecting a cliffhanger. I can normally deal with an end-of-book cliffhanger, but I wasn't prepared! For some reason, I thought that Lakesedge was a standalone, but as we neared the end with too much story and not enough pages I started to sweat. After that cliffhanger, you better believe I'm coming back for book two!

All in all, Lakesedge had great elements and not-so-great elements, but the strong gothic atmosphere made up for everything else!


I still haven't been able to stop thinking about it. Look what the author posted on her Twitter!!

"My debut gothic romance, LAKESEDGE, will emerge in 2021, full of:
🖤monster boys who gift you pretty dresses
🗝️secret gardens and bramble thorns
💀death gods who whisper your name in the dark
🕯️honey scented altar candles
🌑almost-kisses at midnight"

I think I'm in love.

No joke, I NEED this.
Profile Image for ⊹ Gabriela | asternyx ⊹.
471 reviews258 followers
October 20, 2022
DNF 50%

You don't know how much I wanted to like this.
... or be able to finish it, but no.

Leta, our main character is annoying as hell, thinks she knows everything, makes many assumptions about everything and everyone. She also makes people feel uncomfortable because she's being rude and intrusive.

Every time I thought she might go and do the right thing, she did something dumb.
The romance felt forced.

The only thing I liked were the "creepy" scenes, which weren't many.

I think this is one of the books with great potential, but poor execution.
Profile Image for Inés  Molina.
229 reviews39 followers
August 14, 2022
"There are monsters in the world. There are monsters in the woods."

After reading this book i understand those two lines. There are monsters in her world and they are in the woods. Violeta loves her brother Arien, he is everything to her. After escaping the fire that took over her cottage, she walked through the woods holding her little brother in the cold. There in the woods she asked for help, and help she did get from the Lord Under.

The Lord Under is the darkness that whispers your name in the dark and his help comes at cost. He always asks "What will you give up in exchange". Everything comes at a price and Violeta pays it dearly.

Violeta and Rowan grow close with their shadow similarities and they fall in love. She not only will risk everything for Arien now, she will do anything to keep Rowan safe as well.

The book was darkly romantic with a gothic vibe surrounding it. I read it in two days and i enjoyed it from the start.
Profile Image for Marquise.
1,712 reviews404 followers
May 6, 2022
Annoying and sometimes TSTL heroine, pointless repetition, underdeveloped worldbuilding, little to no explanation for the "corruption," annoying heroine (yes, I said it twice because it bears repeating) with a martyr complex, and attempts to ape ACOTAR, which I disliked. The only saving grace is that the hero, Rowan, is intriguing, but the flaws of the story don't make it worth the investment even for his character.
Profile Image for BookSiren S.
129 reviews8 followers
November 9, 2022
This is a fantasy gothic/monster romance book that gave me Beauty and the Beast+ACOTAR vibes.
The story is about orphaned Violeta, a meek young girl who took charge of keeping her little brother safe and from letting his dark powers be revealed. When they eventually do, they are whisked away by the Monster who seeks to control the young boys dark power.
* Slow burn
* Enemies to Lovers
* Monster romance
* Magic world
* HFN cliff hanger
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,638 reviews

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