The cover of the book 'Lakesedge' by Lyndall Clipstone

Title: Lakesedge
Author: Lyndall Clipstone
Genre: YA Gothic Fantasy
Publisher: Pan MacMillan
Published: September 2021

Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone is an enthralling work of YA gothic fantasy that will keep you up all night reading. The novel follows Violeta Graceling, a determined and intriguing heroine, as she and her brother Arien move to the cursed, lakeside estate of Lord Rowan Sylvanan. Violeta knows Rowan as The Monster of Lakesedge, the boy who drowned his whole family, but she soon discovers it’s not as simple as that. To save everything she loves, Violeta must confront her past, and uncover the reason behind her connection with the conniving death god Lord Under. The story unfolds perfectly, revealing surprising truths about the monster, the lake, the mysterious Lord Under, and Violeta herself.

Lakesedge is filled with gorgeous dresses, sinister events on hot summer nights, blushingly descriptive love scenes, and an evil which is satisfyingly creepy…

‘A droplet lands on my cheek. Then another on the back of my hand. A damp splotch, dark as ink. I look up, my heartbeat quickening. The ceiling is a shadowed pool, blurred and rippled, and dripping.’

Lyndall Clipstone writes in her foreword, ‘This book is a love letter to the girl I was at seventeen; the girl who always loved the myth of Persephone, who wore a lace nightgown as daytime clothes…’ And you can truly see this influence in her work, with the vivid imagery of cut pomegranates referencing Persephone’s marriage to Hades and her link to the Underworld, which connects Persephone’s story with Violeta’s. As revealed in a recent interview, Clipstone’s work has many other influences, including how she based Lord Under on David Bowie’s character in the 1986 movie Labyrinth, and how the setting of the old house and gardens by the lake is inspired by the 1911 novel The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Lakesedge is exactly what I look for in a modern fantasy novel, it takes all the best parts of the genre: magic, otherworldliness, darkness – and leaves the parts which don’t work anymore. The progressiveness is subtly woven throughout, from how same-sex couples are an ordinary, accepted part of this world, to how consent is clear in all the intimate scenes. Also, everyone seems to eat plant-based meals, since the cake has ‘almond cream’ and there is ‘olive butter’ for the bread, and there is no meat mentioned at all. The entire outlook of this world is refreshing and feels informed by modern ideals like the #metoo movement.

Romance develops slowly and believably in the story, and you find yourself egging Violeta on in her ill-conceived feelings for a monstrous man. Clipstone’s passion for stories of young women who fall in love with monsters, think Sarah in Labyrinth and Belle in Beauty and the Beast, is clear, and by the end, you’ll be wishing for a Rowan of your own.

If you adore rich descriptions, loveable monsters, and relatable, fierce female characters, then Lakesedge is the book for you. Just wait for the ending, it will leave you begging for the sequel…

Underground Team

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