The Cry of the Lake by Charlie Tyler

I recently read the new novel by Charlie Tyler, The Cry of the Lake. This is a debut novel and I had heard great things about it, so I was excited to read it. The novel is set in and around Oxford and the description of some parts of the area are a delight.

The novel is told through the thoughts and views of three young women I did find it slightly confusing to distinguish one from another as I started the book, but that soon resolved itself.

The Blurb

A gruesome discovery unravels a dark trail of murder and madness

A six-year-old girl sneaks out of bed to capture a mermaid but instead discovers a dead body. Terrified and unable to make sense of what she sees, she locks the vision deep inside her mind.

Ten years later, Lily is introduced to the charismatic Flo and they become best friends. But Lily is guilt-ridden – she is hiding a terrible secret which has the power to destroy both their lives.

When Flo’s father is accused of killing a schoolgirl, the horrors of Lily’s past come bubbling to the surface. Lily knows that, whatever the consequences, she has to make things right. She must go back to the events of her childhood and face what happened at the boat house all those years ago.

Can Lily and Flo discover what is hiding in the murky waters of the lake before the killer strikes again?

The Review

As this novel starts, it offers the reader a deceptively simple premise: a man is engaged to a woman and his daughter and her sister attend school together and get on well. His ex-girlfriend is a police officer, his ex-wife has remarried a rich man who indulges her interests and the woman’s sister does not speak.

The story is told in turn through the eyes of the fiancee, Grace and the two girls Lily and Flo. At first, it appears that it will be a fairly straight forward tale but the author peels away layer after layer and reveals more and more about her characters, their tortuous pasts and haunted lives. There are more layers to this story than in an onion and more twists in the tale than any windy road.

The lay-out of the book is reminiscent of The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell , which I have reviewed on this site. But do not be deceived. While O’Donnell’s novel quickly becomes rather pedestrian, Tyler’s book is slick and sophisticated and, just as she leads you to believe you can see where the story is going, she peels another layer off the onion and the reader realises they have been tricked again.

As a debut novel, The Cry of the Lake is a smart and assured story. I highly recommend it and look forward to reading more by this author.

The Author

Charlie signed with Darkstroke Books in May 2020. The Cry of the Lake is her debut novel.

Charlie adores coffee and usually drinks (at least) four cups before 11am. This caffeine fuelled part of the day is also, unsurprisingly, the time when she gets the most words onto the page.

She lives in a Leicestershire village with husband, Will, and three (almost) grown-up children. Tilly, her golden retriever, is her study buddy and her fiercest critic.

Val Penny


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