Audiobook Review: The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Penguin Audio (June 21, 2022)
Length: 11 hrs and 3 mins
Narrators: Bernadette Dunne
The House Across the Lake is my third book by Riley Sager, and I liked it a lot! However, I’m not sure everyone will have a positive experience, mostly because there’s a HUGE twist at the end of this that I suspect will be quite contentious…
The beginning, though, is a rather typical setup for a Rear Window kind of thriller. Casey Fletcher is our protagonist, recently widowed and trying to drink away her sorrows. An actress by trade, she has been fired from all her projects due to her increasingly worsening alcoholism, and after some prodding from her mother, Casey reluctantly agrees to take a break by spending some time away at the Vermont lake house that her family owns—the same place her husband drowned a year and a half before.
Being here means that Casey can stay out of trouble for the most part, but she’s still trying to drink away the bad memories and spends her time looking through her binoculars at her glamorous neighbors, Tom and Katherine Royce, who live in the glass house across the lake. One day, Casey sees Katherine struggling in the water, and manages to avert another tragedy by swiftly coming to the rescue. The two of them strike up a quick friendship, making Casey feel a little guilty for spying on the Royces, but the more she spends time with the couple, the more she notices something off about the way Tom and Katherine behave around each other. Continuing to watch them though her binoculars, Casey realizes something is seriously wrong with Katherine’s marriage, and when her friend suddenly disappears, our protagonist becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to her.
I’m just going to cut to the chase here. Whatever you might think is going to happen from the short synopsis I provided above, I guarantee it will be wrong. That’s because for most of the novel, Sager leads you to believe The House Across the Lake is going to be another one of your ordinary run-of-the-mill thriller mysteries with a perfectly mundane albeit exciting explanation that you would expect, if not perfectly predict. In reality though, it’s all just a ruse to make you feel all the more astonished and knocked for a loop when everything—and I mean everything—is turned on its head once he drops the big twist.
And it’s big. Genre-changing big. Without spoiling even the tiniest of details, I’ll just say that there is a supernatural element to this, and that is why I think reactions to the ending will be mixed depending on the type of reader you are. Even speaking as someone who enjoys fantasy and speculative fiction, I felt the twist was a bit too much, too sudden, and too in-your-face, so if you’re more into earthly non-supernatural thrillers, I can see how the bombshell might frustrate or even anger you.
For my part though, I enjoyed it. Up until that point, I was admittedly getting drawn into the lull, and while I wouldn’t say I was bored, I have to say I was expecting a little more from the author. The twist changed all that. As awkward as the actual transition was, my interest in the story and how it would end immediately shot straight up to the stratosphere. For a bit of context, I happen to love any kind of sci-fi or fantasy, even if it’s just a dash of it in my fiction. When it’s in my thrillers, mysteries, or horror, I love it even more. Think Sarah Pinborough’s Behind Her Eyes. That kind of stuff really does it for me.
So, consider this a warning or an endorsement, depending on the kind of reader you are. If you typically enjoy Riley Sager though, The House Across the Lake is definitely worth checking out for his suspenseful prose and characters. The audiobook was also fantastically narrated by Bernadette Dunne, who is amazing. Though I had imagined a less mature and sophisticated voice for Casey, I really can’t complain when it’s one of my favorite narrators doing the reading. Highly recommend if you are into audiobooks to consider the audio edition.