[REVIEW] The mute girl, her murderer sister, and the mermaid of the lake //The Cry of the Lake by Charlie Tyler//

I was sitting at my dining table with the book in my hand and my eyes glued to the first page. The door that opens in the hallway was ajar -revealing dark steps and as I continued to read – I felt this rush of warm terror inexplicable but unmissable.

A GIRL IS FUCKING DEAD?!

And that’s how The Cry of The Lake begins. With a shock. And a promise of many more yet to shake you in the process.

The image of a dead girl danced around my eyes as if I was present right there in the room with her lying next to my feet – dead as a fucking nail – blued lips and a creepy stare. And add to it the gritty details and the unsympathetic attitude of Grace in the beginning? The very air that hung around me began to feel cold somehow.

Almost every turn of the page brought with it a rush of excitement and wonder – some character detail that left me gawping at the pages with wide set eyes, or some piece of the puzzle that hadn’t even crossed my mind.

Back to back surprises – so engrossing that I didn’t even move my neck for an hour straight – sticking my nose in my kindle as if reading it from as close as possible would reveal something!

I adored how Tyler throws in JUST THE RIGHT DESCRIPTIONS at JUST THE RIGHT TIME! Handling the timing to keep the reader engrossed is an art, one that the author has mastered! 

The way that characters have been fleshed out is brilliant as well – giving them all an identity of their own – moving back and forth in three point of views – presenting a delicious contrast in nature, thinking, and priorities. Charlie Tyler’s extraordinary way with words painted really vivid and unique image of all the characters. You know what, it hurts me to call them mere characters. They are people in my heart now. Flesh and bone. That’s all they are composed of. Real people with heartbreaking stories – and I don’t think I will ever be able to get over them. I don’t think I even want to. 

The stark and deliberate contrast that the author presents to snap you out and then pull you back in only increases the creepiness factor. The narration is so subtle in introducing bits of horror stricken and disturbed images in your mind that you end up shivering and anticipating the worst at even the most normal and unimportant events. You never really forget Amelie’s body gurgling down to rot at the lake bed and that stinky smell of a rotting body – a fragment of my imagination for sure – but it was present throughout the narrative, even when everyone was all happy and seemed carefree – the power of Charlie Tyler’s words.

I went out after finishing the first chapter – to get some water. It was around 11 pm and the hall was dark and I could feel someone’s dead set eyes on me, the manic eyes of a crazy woman – the very thought sent shivers down my spine! GUESS WHO SLEPT WITH A THIRSTY THROAT THAT NIGHT? ME! Because I JUST COULDN’T make the painfully short journey from my room to the kitchen. THAT was the effect of this book’s beginning events on me.

From the very first page it hooked it’s claws into me, sucking me in  like a dementor – only it didn’t feed on my soul, it fed on my attention. All of it WHOLLY on this gorgeous, haunting, dark story.

The mystery surrounding the two girls keeps on twisting and turning it’s solid body around you – a snake from the depths of the characters’ pasts. Suffocating you. Keeping you captive in between it’s forceful embrace. And you end up liking it, enjoying it even! 

You are the happiest prisoner ever! Stockholm syndrome much? HELL YEAH! 

Secrets lay at the heart of Lily and Grace’s life – the anticipation of which had my insides in a knot. I don’t know why but I was terrified of knowing the truth, of reading on. I think a part of me just didn’t want this story to end. Very selfish too because Lily’s suffering was dependent on the ending but I just couldn’t handle. Yet my curiosity won over my reluctance every single time! 

Lily was made fun of her silence. Even by her sister. Grace’s actions made me loathe her. So much that I just wanted to enter the alternate realm and stab her in the heart – just so she could fucking stop tormenting her sister. I was so engrossed in their lives that I felt like one of them! Lily’s grief, the fact that she was in the cruel clutches of a life that suffocated her – her sadness – desperation – confusion – anger – hopelessness – the author captured it ALL. So broken was this teenager that I just wanted to rip apart the pages and enter her world and soothe her and tell her that everything was going to be OKAY! 😦

In all honesty, I hated Grace from the very beginning. Everything about her irritated me. But man, I didn’t have the SLIGHTEST inkling that my view of her would change so drastically. That, in my eyes at least, she’ll be redeemed by the end. It’d be cruel to let you in on any more details but just know that you won’t come out of this story unchanged. You WILL leave a part of yourself in there – between the pages – wrapped up tightly. But keep it away from Emily. She’ll break it.

But WAIT! WHO IS EMILY?! You’ll find out soon enough.

I sit here – with my eyes just a bit teary, my heart just a bit sad, my kind just a bit relaxed – it’s been a journey. I have been Emily – her rage; I have been Lily – her trauma; I have been Flo – her confusion; I have been Frank – his wickedness; and I have been Gil – with all his loveliness.

I have been them all. And let me tell you, even though learning about their lives destroyed me, I wouldn’t trade one bit of that wonderfully thrilling experience with anything else. Nothing else. 

I had already started reading another book the next day – trying to escape the tide of emotions reading The Cry of The River had set in my gut – but I just couldn’t shake the gloomy feeling of separating myself from these dear dear people.

Yes. I even missed Grace and her erratic and manic ways. It’s amazing how Tyler has forced me to be sensitive and understanding of a girl who has committed cold blooded murder before. You won’t believe the things she has done and yet, she is redeemed. Why though? I couldn’t tell you, despite knowing the contents of her past, I just couldn’t tell you why my heart wants to forgive her so badly. 

And Lily? I don’t wanna part from her. Her confusion, her nightmares, her dilemmas, her hallucinations – I have become addicted to them.

I don’t want to let go. I want to hold on. 

And I want Gil back. I want to hear him say “My lady of the lake, forgive me” one last time. I want to see his golden hair shimmering in the moon light and for once, just once, I want him to hold Em, the way she wanted to be held. 

I think I will be forever be haunted Emily sitting at the edge of the lake, with all the painful memories gnawing  at her heart – wasting away what little sanity she has left- forever waiting for someone who would never arriveher beloved, the mermaid of the lake. 

Ask anyone –
I’ve been gloomy
thinking about the future they might’ve shared –
Gil and Emily,
If not of love, then maybe of family?

And now I MUST ask YOU, dear reader,
to
share in my gloom. 

You will, won’t you?

[REVIEW] BEACHCOMBER, BLUE HOUSE & the mystery of the changed name //ROUGH MUSIC – Patrick Gale//

It seems that some of the most beautiful books I own come from a dusty, old bookshop. THAT’S where the magic lies. You go in with wonder in your eyes and excitement in your heart. You don’t know what you are looking for. You don’t know what you’ll find. And that’s half the fun, isn’t it? You just want to get lost in it, for hours..moving from corner to corner, your fingers tracing frayed corners of broken spines, flicking the pages.

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Its one of my favorite things to do. And on that sunny winter day, I was doing exactly this when my eye was captured by a book hiding away between a bunch of bulky hardcovers. On its cover was a little boy, on the beach, looking for something. And I didn’t even have to read what it’ll be about because something in my heart said that whatever story these pages contained, it’ll be worth reading.

And I wasn’t wrong.

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Rough Music is the story of a woman, her husband, and her son. It’s about her fears, her disappointments, and her guilt. It’s about a man always doing the right things and in the process failing to listen to his own heart. it’s also about a boy, a sweet little boy. A boy who lives in books and plays with criminals. A boy whose heart knows the truth but his mind wants to be a grown-up. 

But most of all it’s a story of a family and how it changed during one fine summer.

What happened during that summer? That summer holiday that was supposed to be an escape from the boredom and mundanity of life. That’s what this story is about.

About that fine summer on the beach.

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Patrick Gale is a sly human being. He hooks you in with a promise of a fun holiday and then he shatters your beliefs and your heart by turning it into something you’d never have expected. His lyrical writing captivates you from the instant you read that first sentence – full of desire, confusion, and hope to disappear. And then he forms a smoke-screen for you in the next few chapters to make sure that you believe his faux promise of a fun, loving, exciting family. 

The story follows two timelines and both of them intertwine so completely that it weaves a thick web around you and it continues to do so until you aren’t able to see anything but these beautifully flawed characters. Will – a man drowning in guilt and trying to break free of his conflicted mind, Frances – dealing with the slow but gradual demise of her memory – both good and bad, and John – a man struggling to keep it all together.

It’s amazing how much a story can change you as it changes the lives of the ones it belongs to.

Years ago, something happened in a house overlooking a beautiful beach. It was like a dream come true for little Julian – to be spending his holidays there, this heaven on Earth. And his parents? Well, they were deeply in love, as far as he was concerned. But this truth will soon change for him and when it does, he will be left with nothing but an overwhelming urge to break it all.

As the narrative shifts from Julian to Will to Frances to John, Gale presents a sharp contrast in their voices and although it seems like nothing at first but as you progress through the story, you find out just how much of their characters and their deepest desires is revealed through it. He captures the fantasy-ridden, innocent voice of Julian in such contrast with that of his parents that it’s impossible not to fall in love first, with him, and then with Patrick Gale for doing such an excellent job at bringing this little boy and everyone around him to life. 

The effect of his words is magnetic to the point that before you know it, you find yourself amidst all that is happening, with your senses heightened and your morality questioning every event that transpires.

It’s so well written that I couldn’t see the surprises coming. They kept closing in, all this time, and I was completely unaware. They stealthily caught up on me and in a moment, everything I thought I knew about every single one of them was pronounced false. 

Gale has this extraordinary talent of making things seem irrelevant until they turn into the exact opposite of that. Thrilling, in the most beautiful, lyrical way. His writing reads like elongated poetry, dispelling all the harsh truths and the sunny memories all at the same time, in an uninterrupted dream. 

Julian spent all of his childhood in uncommon vicinity to the prison and its inhabitants. Made friends with them. And it is almost poetic how he ultimately became one. In this way, the events of this story also give off a vague but unmistakable whiff of karma.

Rough Music puts the sanctity of marriage and relationships in bright light too for us to see the cracks that are otherwise impossible to discern. A marriage done solely for the comforts of belonging to someone and a desire to get away from a family of four brothers and a mother who saw her as a disappointment left Frances wanting more after the newness of the first few years wore off. And John? Well, he, bound to his duty as a prison governor and entangled in the web of politeness, never dared voice his deep love for her and it led to such disappointments later on that everything – every year they had spent together- was brought into question.

This story is also about memories.

Some we want to hold on to, others we bury deep inside, never letting them surface.

But what happens when they do?

THES N O WCHILD

When a spiteful daughter concocts a plan to send you to the very place where the dissociation of your seemingly lovely family began? When a desire for the feel of a handsome stranger calls everything you’ve been doing into question? When the guilt of hurting your sister constantly for almost as long as she’s been married drives you to such a point of confusion that you just don’t know what to do anymore? When a sound, a smell, a taste, an event brings back every emotion you’ve been suppressing for as long as you can remember? 

What happens when the past starts to flood your present and there is no anchor to hold on to?

EVERYTHING UNRAVELS.

I was also struck by the stunning contrast between what happened years ago – it’s excitement and the calm composed nature of the present circumstances acquired only after the long-accepted knowledge of those truths. They had made peace with their secrets and what happened at their unveiling and I, on the other hand, was left to the thrill and excitement and the emotional turmoil of it all. 

The unfolding of the events of this book is like the unveiling of a masterpiece – it takes its sweet time. It was less a mere advancement and more a discovery of relationships, their secrets, and the morals and attitudes that guided them – for better or worse – throughout the span of three generations. You will be told about secrets you wish you hadn’t been made privy to, you will be made to pity an old woman suffering from Alzheimer’s and defend her actions, you will be made to hate or be indifferent towards a daughter who was never really a daughter.

Yes, you will be MADE to do all of these things. You won’t have a choice. The writer is the master here and all you can do is bow down to his genius and let the story live in you, live through you. 

You’ll find that every word on these pages is intensely aware of its existence, the story painfully aware of its liveliness and this awareness will act as a bridge to the very souls of these characters. Only then they won’t just be ‘characters’ anymore. They will become your companions for the time being and beyond.

Rough Music isn’t just a story about a family and how they deal with life’s different blows and the problems in their relationships, it’s a piece of their life which Patrick Gale has entrusted us, the readers, to make sure that it is heard, understood, and reflected upon. 

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How much power does a name hold? It can change lives, memories, even the whole personality.

By the end, you will understand the mystery of a boy’s changed name.

A boy with heaps of guilt stacked on his little shoulders.
A man in love with his wife but ensnared by the silence that fears had imposed on him.
A woman losing her mind, and a loving doting husband losing himself in her.

I have lived their lives. Their forgetful, unforgettable lives. And now, their lives live in me. Maybe forever.
But memory is a fickle thing, isn’t it?

Ask Frances when you meet, in between the pages of Rough Music.

You will, won’t you? ♥