A review of “Lost Lake”

If you’ve been keeping up with my reviews, you know I’ve been reading all the Sarah Addison Allen books I can get my hands on. I suppose I’ve been chasing that first high that I got from “Garden Spells.”

I’ve enjoyed her later works, but they’ve not had the same charm for me. Her most recent novel is the one I just finished. I think I’m all caught up at this point.

I really don’t like saying this about any book, but “Lost Lake” was a little bit of a let-down for me.

image courtesy of author’s website

The first thing that got under my skin was the lack of editing. This was the first edition hardcover, and it should have been tidied up better.

The phrase “could care less” was used. This is a pet peeve of mine. There is quite a bit of controversy over it, and I am in the “couldn’t care less” camp.

Regardless of which one you think is right, the fact that it’s such a bone of contention among readers and writers, and that people like myself are so snobbish about it, well, that would steer me away from using it.

There were a few spelling errors in the book, as well. One of these really bothered me, as it indicated a lack of understanding of the actual meaning of the word.  A blond child was described as a “toe-headed girl.”

altered image courtesy of Flickr user Ben Andreas Harding

altered image courtesy of Flickr user Alejandro C.

That’s just silly. Towheaded is the word you were looking for. I know I’m nitpicking (which is an unpleasant metaphor), but these are avoidable mistakes, and they detract from my enjoyment of a book.

While I’m being fussy, I’d like to say one thing about Ms. Allen’s style that has bothered me from the very first book — I strongly, strongly dislike sentence fragments.

This is a technique that many authors use for some sort of dramatic effect. I think it’s preferable for one’s words to have their own impact without having to resort to splitting up a sentence with a full stop, and in some cases even a carriage return. It smacks of laziness. There are ways to make your point while staying within the realm of traditional syntax.

I get frustrated. I expect more from authors, especially ones with multiple published novels under their belts. Sometimes I just can’t overcome the urge to address these things.

Despite the technical stuff, and the recurring reluctant romance themes in her stories, Sarah Addison Allen has a very unique imagination a great deal of creativity.

The magical happenings and gifts people have in her novels are fresh and new ideas, which makes the stories so fun — but the fun part in this one is rather dampened.

“Lost Lake” started out with so much bereavement. There are characters who have died before the story even began. As more living characters are introduced, they all seem to have such sad memories.

There is a melancholy note that lingers among all the other events, like a piano key that sticks and continues to sound its tone through the rest of the song. Eventually, it seems out of place, but it persists; it somewhat spoils the overall effect of the piece.

The magic in this book lacks the mischief, the twinkle-in-the-eye of the author’s other works. Many of the metaphors-made-real seem based in grief, loss, or guilt.

Ultimately, we get our happy ending. The way the conflict was overcome surprised me, but even though it was a selfless and admirable act, I could see it having consequences later on, which weren’t really addressed.

Most of the loose ends were tied up, however, and nearly everyone experienced happy endings and hopeful beginnings.

Then, for some reason, the author wrapped things up with a return to a kind of wistfulness — the prospect of a sad conclusion for one of the characters.

Honestly, I felt that Ms. Allen could easily have given the characters what they had always wanted without adding any further sacrifice or grief on top of what they had each already endured.

The ending, at least, could have been switched with something else, moved up a few paragraphs perhaps, so as to end the book on a more hopeful and satisfying note.

This book has been well-reviewed by quite a few other people, so maybe my experience of it had more to do with what I brought to the table. While it was a good story, with a handful of interesting characters, it simply did not live up to my expectations.

However, the reason I had high expectations is due to how much I enjoyed Sarah Addison Allen’s other novels. Even though I found some fault in the details, there is something about the author’s manner of storytelling that appeals to me.

If and when she releases another book, I will gladly read it.



About Elizabeth M. Lee

I love to read, write, and take nature photos. I do other stuff, too.
This entry was posted in book review. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A review of “Lost Lake”

  1. Pingback: A Review of “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman | Elizabeth Editorializes

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