A deliciously dark story perfect for lovers of gothic romance.
Lakesedge, the highly anticipated debut from Adelaide’s own Lyndall Clipstone, is the perfect dark fantasy tale for fans of gothic romance. A story filled with monsters, nightmares, and the kind of love that’s impossible to resist, Lakesedge has already earned its place on the YA shelf.
This is the story of Violeta Graceling, an orphan who’s determined to protect her brother, Arien, from the dark magic that he begins to display. The only reprieve from her punishing and fanatical adoptive mother comes in the form of Rowan Sylvanan, the lord of the land who demands that Violeta and Arien accompany him to his estate. Desirable, complex, and also a monster, rumoured to have killed his family and inexplicably tied to the Lord Under, Rowan is the kind of love interest YA dreams are made of.
There’s a magical corruption brewing at Rowan’s estate, and he needs Arien’s magic to help cleanse the spreading poison before it consumes him. But as we learn more about Rowan and Violeta, while a captivating love blossoms between them, the story explodes into an entrancing fight for freedom against the rising darkness.
Clipstone executes the world-building brilliantly, creating a sense of place that transports the reader to Violeta’s gloomy world. This is the kind of text you become so immersed in that it’s easy to forget you’re just reading a book. Such masterful descriptors and poetic prose are used when bringing the forest, lake, and manor at Lakesedge to life that these almost feel like characters themselves.
While the romance between Violeta and Rowan pulls much of the focus, it’s refreshingly not insta-love. Instead, there’s a slow and steamy burn between them after their immediate attraction, making their relationship feel all the more real and relatable—no easy feat in a book about magic and monsters! Both main characters are also likeable and well-written, and it’s easy to admire Violeta, in particular, for her bravery and unconditional love for Arien. The choices she makes aren’t always perfect, but that’s because she’s a teenager.
The story itself flows easily with relatively short chapters and the use of a cliffhanger every now and then makes this difficult to put down. Original and creative, the plot doesn’t follow all the same tired tropes we often see in YA fantasy, instead relying on a unique magical system and distinctive figures, such as the Lord Under.
The gothic atmosphere casts a deliciously dark shadow over Lakesedge, and those who love dark fantasy or romance are sure to devour it. This would also be a fitting Halloween read for someone craving a haunted and suspenseful story without the spine-chilling horror.
Reviewed by Vanessa Elle
Distributed by: Pan Macmillan
Released: 31 August 2021