Lake Child
Date Published19 September 2019
Price£ 7.99

Lake Child

by Isabel Ashdown

Eva Olsen cannot remember much about the last year of her life and is horrified that her parents are keeping her locked in an attic room with no contact with her old friends. And her parents are behaving oddly.


Eva Olsen is a 17-year-old girl living in Norway. She is, to all intents and purposes, a prisoner in her own home, locked in an attic room and not allowed into any other room in the house in which she has lived since childhood. Her parents, particularly her doctor mother, seem to be responding oddly to her and she is forced to take a cocktail of drugs.

Eva has very little memory of the last year of her life, other than remembering that she was in a car accident in which she was badly injured and that the driver has never been found. Eva’s best friends, Lars and Rosa, have not been to see her and she does not understand why.

There is another parallel plot to this tale – a series of short interviews with a woman in Britain who is describing the loss of her grandchild and the subsequent tragedies which befell her family. The woman is clearly not very nice. There is no apparent link to these two strands of plot, a difference reinforced by the different styles and voices used in their presentation.

The isolation of Eva, her flashbacks, the potentially likeable father and the ostensibly cold mother are well drawn and Eva’s relationship with her erstwhile friends are all explored in interesting and engaging fashions. The interview sections become increasingly intriguing, leaving the reader to imagine what relationships will emerge at the end of the novel. Eva’s state of mind is easy to identify with as are the actions that she decides to take.

Norway, the surroundings of the apparently beautiful family home, the obvious impact of the absence of winter light and the omnipresent snow cast their spell over the story and contrast with the English sections.

As the ramifications of the plot start to resolve and as Eva’s situation becomes apparent the resolutions are very satisfying and the end is not what you may have expected. This is a super book.

Reviewed 19 September 2020 by John Barnbrook