Stillhouse Lake, by Rachel Caine

librarysays's review

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The thrillers I've read this year have been hit-or-miss so I was wary jumping into this on a whim. But it's a lot of fun! As someone fascinated by serial killers, I have always wondered about their spouses and children. How do you go on after finding out your husband or father is a psychotic sadist who brutally murdered multiple people? How did you not know in the first place?

This story posits those same questions as we follow Gwen Proctor (formerly Gina Royal) whose ex-husband is now infamously known as the Kansas Horror, four years after his arrest. The message-board masses have harassed her and her children brutally resulting in their changed identities and in them having moved many times in a constant state of paranoia.

Settling in a small rural town in Tennessee, Gwen thinks her family will finally be able to put down roots. And then the bodies start showing up.

I thought I had the who-dunnit worked out pretty early on and then there's a "reveal" that I assumed proved me right. But no! I was totally off. Rachel included several red herrings that honestly threw me off the scent.

When the actual villain is revealed, I was surprised, but also a little bit disappointed. It seems...random at best. She succeeded in keeping me guessing, but only because there were so few clues pointing in the right direction.

Regardless, I was hooked and entertained to the very end and immediately picked up the sequel.

3.5 stars

rebecca_readitreviewit's review

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This was an intense graphic read. The suspense was great it keeps you engaged from the very beginning. I read along with the audio which was very well done the narrator showed emotion well.

booksforbrunch's review against another edition

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UPDATE: 3 stars

Stillhouse Lake a decent fast-paced suspense novel. Although I enjoyed the writing and the characters of Gwen, Lanny and Connor, I felt cheated by not having a better knowledge of Gina, Lily and Brady. To me, the characters had no real ARC or if they did it happened before this book took place and the reader missed out.

I'm sure there was reason to keep Mel mysterious because he'll play a big role in the sequel but all we were given were tiny details here and there of the crimes he committed. No reason why or any backstory. Only hints at his devious physical demeanors and how his voice changed. The only glimpse we received into their marriage was from Gwen's memory, which didn't feel like the best way to tell the story. I feel it would have been much stronger with the switch of POV or even the switch of time, perhaps before The Event in Kansas and after.

In the end it was very predictable. And very repetitive. I know you have two kids. I know your husband is a convicted serial killer. I know you're obsessed with being safe. And I never blamed her for any of these things but every other sentence? I needed a little more from Gwen as a character and deeper thoughts/realizations on the whole.

icameheretoread's review

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I was in the mood for a smart thriller, and this delivers. Honestly, Gwen got on my nerves about halfway through the book. I almost put it down but then things started happening. I should also confess that I have tried Rachel Caine many times over the past few years and have never gotten through any of her other works.

What worked for me her was the strong female characters. Even Lanny is kickass. I was thrown off a couple of times by possible killers in disguise and did not guess the ending. These are all wins. I liked the setting too.

So, I am going to read the second one.

jwoshka's review against another edition

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challenging dark emotional mysterious reflective tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


shellshellyshellshell's review against another edition

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I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

I am a big fan of Rachel Caine. Her young adult series, Morganville Vampires, is fantastic and I loved it. Stillhouse Lake is a much more adult story, being extremely gruesome at times, but it still shows the authors wonderful ability to tell and maintain a thrilling and engrossing story.

A woman, Gwen, is trying to make a new life with her two children after her husband turns out to be, well, not the man she thought he was. However, the new beginning she hoped for is proving to be impossible to find due to her inability to trust anyone and the determination of some downright disgusting internet trolls who would like nothing more than to see Gwen and her children die, horribly.

A very entertaining read from the shocking and very gruesome first chapter to the heart stopping stonker of a cliffhanger at the end. I don't know if my fingernails will survive the wait for the sequel.

shecamefromouterspace's review against another edition

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This was a wild ride. At points, it certainly pushed the boundaries of believability, particularly towards the end. But regardless, this is a very intense and gripping thriller. And readers who pick this up should know that it is also very gory.

Gina Royal is your typical suburban housewife. She is happily married to a man named Melvin, with whom she has two kids. One day, she comes home from picking her kids up from school, and her house is surrounded by police. Come to find out, a drunk driver has crashed into her husband's garage, revealing a torture chamber with a dead young woman inside. Melvin is a serial killer, a fact to which Gina was completely oblivious for all the years she has been with Mel.

Gina then flees the state, taking her two kids with her. The three of them must move house and change their identities multiple times to escape from the people who want them dead: internet trolls who think Gina helped Melvin kill, and of course, Mel himself.

This story reminds me a lot of the BTK killer. In recent years, his daughter has come forth to the media to talk about her experience when she found out her father was a serial killer. Poor girl had no idea, just like Gina. And just like Gina, she received ruthless backlash from the media and the internet, people pointing fingers, passing judgement, and espousing hatred, even death threats. The "Sicko Patrol" (as Gina/Gwen calls them) in this novel feel so real to me, because people are godawful and quick to judge, especially when they can hide behind the anonymity of the internet. And with the technology we have nowadays, it would be so easy for an angry internet mob to incite a witch hunt.

That being said, there were certain events towards the end that seemed way too convenient for the plot. Gwen does something completely out of character, which is a catalyst for the book's climax. It felt wrong and didn't really make sense considering her thoughts and actions throughout the first 3/4 of the book. BUT. I still really enjoyed this. A fun, nasty little thriller.

kettyjay's review against another edition

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dark emotional mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


oriantineman's review against another edition

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ill put this under : "i read it bcuz it was there" section

mijuamina's review against another edition

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I don't think I can finish this. I am not in the mood for this thriller.