Book Review: People of the Lake by Nick Scorza

Rating:  ★★★

People of the Lake is about a girl who spends the summer with her dad in his hometown. It’s a quiet little town on Redmarch Lake, except the people there are weird. They don’t like outsiders. They don’t talk to outsiders. And they are definitely hiding something.

One night, after a party in the woods, a teenage boy washes up dead on the lakeshore, and the following morning a note shows up from Clara’s twin sister, written in a secret language they shared as twins. The only problem? Clara’s sister Zoe has been dead for eight years.

This book was slow to get going. It lingers a lot on unnecessary details. Clara’s inner monologue is often repetitive, as is the recounting of her mornings at the coffee shop. The dialogue often felt stiff and cliched. It isn’t bad per se, but it’s not really good either.

I also struggled with the way Clara was written. She was written very much how I think adults believe teenage girls are, rather than how they actually are. She was never fully realized as a person outside of her teenage girl-dom. There were a lot of tropes and cliches stuffed in that just came across as dated. (A step dad she doesn’t want to know, the weird unfriendly goth girl, the awkward Dad… the list goes on.)

That said, I did enjoy the plot. A lot of the details were held back until the end, keeping me in suspense. Even when I struggled, I wanted to see where the crazy train was taking me. There’s a silly romance shoehorned in at the end that you’ll see coming a mile away. By the time they got to “I love you’s” I was rolling my eyes.

There’s some odd pieces of history going back to the 1400s thrown in, that don’t feel like they ever culminate into anything. They reveal bits and pieces of the town’s history but don’t actually contribute to the overall story beyond what the character’s tell us (and what the character’s tell us is much more coherent).

The spook factor was decent. I loved the imagery of lights in the woods and the howling, accompanied by the ever present lake, so silent and still. It’s definitely supernatural in nature, as a heads up, if that kind of horror is not your thing.

I think this could have actually been great if there had been some stronger editing to get rid of the tropes and repetitiveness, and maybe been trimmed down to a novella size to keep the pace up.  Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss who provided an eARC for review.

People of the Lake released on October 15, 2019 and can be found on GoodReads or Amazon.

24 thoughts on “Book Review: People of the Lake by Nick Scorza

  1. The set up sure sounds like a good one, but it’s too bad the rest of it didn’t live up to its potential. And yeah, I think it’s easy to fall into the trap of cliches, I think it’s the sign of an inexperienced writer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes I thought the same thing- though I feel like I did look him up and he has written other things (could be wrong). Maybe it was his first stab at writing a teenage girl?

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  2. I am so sorry you were disappointed with this one, Sarah! ☹️☹️ It really does suck when the plot could have actually gone somewhere great but the writing is horrible! ☹️☹️UGH! I HATE THAT! But heyyy, your review was VERYYY INFORMATIVE AND VERY WELL WRITTEN! ❤️❤️ I LOVED IT! ❤️❤️💕💕💕👻👻

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  3. I do get so annoyed at the “how adults think teenagers are” thing. I don’t know that I’d do any better a job of it, but sometimes it seems like authors aren’t even trying. (I don’t know if that’s the case here, just drawing on my experience with other books.)

    I love that cover, though. It somehow seems to evoke both the woods and underwater. Really cool.

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    • The setting was great and sufficiently spooky and well written, it really was mostly the characterization I suffered.

      I especially seem to notice it when it’s a man writing a teenage girl, I notice less with adult women, after all, they were teenagers once, (though I’m not saying adult women are immune). I just think when it’s a man it’s particularly noticeable, unfortunately. Maybe an unfair judgement, but that’s what I feel!

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      • Well, that’s good! I’m glad the setting was enjoyable.

        I suspect a lot of the problem is that the teenage experience is (or at least seems) more different based on gender than the adult experience. I mean, as adults there are gender differences too, but a lot of what we are focused on — job, money, etc — translates better. I can’t even start to begin thinking about how I’d write a teenage boy. How much of what I think they go through is a stereotype instead of real? Add that gender gap to the age gap, and it’s probably more rare to get a well-written teenager.

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  4. Pingback: Month in Review: October 2019 | Hamlets & Hyperspace

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