Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Wow! All I can say is wow! Even though I wanted to yell at Gwen (Gina) for being stupid at times, overall this story was great. It had a decent pace and moved quicker when the action got going. The story that follows Gwen, the ex-wife of a convicted serial murder, Melvin Royal. She constantly moves to keep herself and the kids safe, until one day her new home turns into a copy-cat Melvin’s playground. How will Gwen stay safe and keep her children safe, especially with the police watching her?
Overall I give this book a rating of 4.5 books out of 5.
Who’s Who: The Lovable and the Unlovable
-Gwen Proctor (Gina Royal)
-Mom to Lanny and Connor
-ex-wife of Melvin Royal
-dubbed “Melvin’s Little Helper”
-acquitted of presumed crimes
-crazy, mistrusting, paranoid
-Wants to learn to protect self
-Police with 2 sons (bullies to Connor)
-Gun range owner
-Helps rebuild home
-Creator of new ids/new places to hide
-Gwen’s (Gina’s) ex-husband
They Did What? (Spoilers)
Gwen is on the run from the threats, taunts, and torments on her and her childrens’ lives because of the atrocious acts committed by her ex-husband, Melvin Royal. Ever since the day his activities were found out and she was dubbed “Melvin’s Little Helper.” She had done nothing wrong, but still went through a year of trials and jail before being acquitted. Now, with the knowledge of the torment he did right on the other side of the garage door to numerous women, he is on death row, and she is on the run.
Her contact, Absalom, makes it possible for her to get new ids, new home, new backstories to start over again when things are unsafe in their current location. She ends up in Stillhouse Lake, a small community with majority of its residents being life-long and generation-long members. She goes to the gun-range to stay ready and has alarms constantly engaged at home. Through it all, her paranoia forces her to do what she deems as the Sicko Patrol every morning to see if there are any new serious threats out there. When she begins to feel uncomfortable in her new home, she starts looking for a way out and realizes there is van for sale. Upon reaching out and going to see the van, she realizes it is the property of Javier, the gun range owner. She buys it from him, but when something happens and she has to get home, she leaves the van with him and takes her jeep back to trade later to finish the deal.
Connor is constantly bullied by the police officer’s children and when he is brought home one day by the neighbor, Sam Cade, Gwen finds someone who wants to help her fix up the place. Gwen realizes this means staying more permanently. A body is discovered and Gwen realizes she needs to take her kids and run, but when she reaches out to Javier to finish the trade, she is instead surprised by him and a detective at the door learning that he is a reserve police officer. Gwen is then taken down for questioning for hours, until even though she knows nothing and has done nothing, they can’t keep her any longer no matter how much they want to blame her for the copy-cat Melvin Royal crime. Gwen begins to get comfortable around Sam and her kids do to, helping him fix up the house and learning along the way. Gwen decides she needs to go visit Melvin, for the first time. When she sees him, she realizes the beating she had ordered via Absalom went through, but Melvin is still Melvin, cold-hearted, and threatening, even behind the glass. She returns home shaken, but feels firmer in her decision. She reveals her true identity to Sam and he disappears on her.
The next morning, another body is found. This time she is taken down again, but while there she sees Sam being led through in handcuffs as well. Both are cleared, and both are sent home. She grabs her kids from the breakroom, where they were taken, and upon returning home, sees the red painted messages across her home. Melvin calls Gwen at home on her burner phone and it shakes her to the core, because now all the threats are directed towards her and the kids. She gets Kezia to watch her kids under the guard of the alarm, and goes down to the gun range to let off some steam and stress. She returns home only to be stopped by Sam Cade and the two reconcile, only in time for Gwen to save him from getting his skull blown to smithereens.
When she returns home, the children are missing and there is blood everywhere. A new nightmare begins. She returns to the police station, being questioned as a suspect as well as a concerned mother. When she is finally released, she wants to join the search, but no one will take her until Lance offers to take her out there. She accepts and the two start driving out in the torrential rain. She begins to feel uneasy with his actions and Sam texts asking where she is, as he is at the station. She realizes that Lance is lying and that Lance is responsible, she tries to text Sam to tell him, but can’t as Lance takes her phone and smashes it. She flees out of the car after injuring him and tries to run in the wooded area during the rain. She ends up overpowering him, using Melvin’s knowledge of stalking his prey and using that to her advantage, but not without some severe injuries to herself. She finds the hiding place of her children and is finally safely reunited with them, only to be told of news of an outbreak at Melvin’s prison and Melvin’s escape.
They Said What?
This is not a book for teens. It is okay for young adults, but I would still be careful there. Definitely a college-aged book because of some themes and things discussed. This book is graphic in detailing some of the threats that Gwen gets and discusses what Melvin did to his victims. It has graphic imagery in those aspects. There is violence in here with guns, battery, as well as grotesque imagery involving children.
Just a heads up- this book is definitely a thriller and has some focus on the battered woman (physically, mentally, emotionally). It also shows Gwen’s need of survival while on the run.
Writer’s Heads Up!
This book does a great job of showing how to build suspense, how to build suspicion in even the most likely characters, and is a great example of a thriller.
Overall this book is a fantastic read. The sequel comes out in December! I have already pre-ordered mine!