Thursday, July 21, 2016

Beneath the Lake by Christopher Ransom

It's been thirty years since the Mercer family's last camping trip. Until then it was an annual tradition, but something happened that year. Something that brought an end to those camping trips for good. 

Or not. 

Apparently Raymond's father is ill and it's his final wish that his family come together once again in honor of the old tradition. Raymond, the youngest Mercer child, barely remembers that awful last trip but he knows returning to Blundstone is the last thing he wants to do. This request, however, seems to be one he can't refuse. 

I don't think Christopher Ransom has ever written what I'd consider a predictable book. Some of them may begin in what seems like familiar territory, but by the end of every one I've read the story has been turned upside down and inside out and gone well beyond the boundaries of my own apparently limited imagination.

Beneath the Lake was no exception in that regard. A family hiding a secret so dark it's plagued their memories for three decades AND broken a standing family tradition... What could be so terrible about a family camping trip? In a public place, no less.

Of course our main character doesn't even remember. As it turns out, the eight year old Raymond who was present during that final trip missed out on much of the action. So even though he's leery about returning to Blundstone, which has been closed to the public for some time apparently, he has very little inkling about what might be in store for his family this time around.

He expects drama. He expects arguments. It's the first time the family has been together in quite some time, after all. And considering the bombshell about his dad, the trip is definitely not off to a great start. And so he goes armed with a companion, one he's crushed on for some time but doesn't really know very well at all.

Sounds like a terrible first date to me!

I'm just the kind of reader who would bring Beneath the Lake on a camping trip (if I were inclined to camp, which I'm not) for extra atmosphere. And it would be the absolute perfect fireside read, too - guaranteed to make you jump at every noise and shadow and likely to keep you up at night shivering in your tent.

Of course you can just as easily read this one at home, cozy and safe, and it'll still creep you out to no end. Ransom builds an atmosphere that starts somewhere in the vicinity of normal with a hint of dread and quickly edges into eeriness and all out horror. It's an excellent build, exactly what I crave in a scary read, and a tale that might make you reconsider your own next camping trip!

Rating: 4/5

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