Synopsis (From GoodReads):
The year is 1928. Kate Moore is looking for a way out of the poverty and violence of her childhood. When a chance encounter on a transatlantic ocean liner brings her face-to-face with the handsome heir to a Chicago fortune, she thinks she may have found her escape—as long as she can keep her past concealed.
After exchanging wedding vows, Kate quickly discovers that something isn’t quite right with her husband—or her new family. As Mrs. Matthew Lemont, she must contend with her husband’s disturbing past, his domineering mother, and his overly close sister. Isolated at Lakecrest, the sprawling, secluded Lemont estate, she searches desperately for clues to Matthew’s terrors, which she suspects stem from the mysterious disappearance of his aunt years before. As Kate stumbles deeper into a maze of family secrets, she begins to question everyone’s sanity—especially her own. But just how far will she go to break free of this family’s twisted past?
One of my favorite genres in literature is historical fiction. In The Shadow Of Lakecrest, by Elizabeth Blackwell, gets those small details of the 1920's right. But I was confused by the tone of the book. Was it a horror story, or a family drama? Just when I thought I understood what was going on, the book took a drastic turn. I think it would have been an excellent book if the author had focused mainly on the relationships between Kate and her husband, and Kate and her mother-in law, Hannah. Instead, the book shifts back and forth between realistic fiction and horror.
What I Liked:Characters:
I found the characters, especially the matriarch of the family, Hannah to be full of surprises. At first, Hannah seems to actively dislike Kate and treat her as a gold-digger for marrying her son. But as the novel progresses, we see that Hannah was in much the same situation when she married into the family, many years prior.
Kate is, essentially, a gold-digger. Yet she does grow to love Matthew, and help him with his trauma from WWI. I love the fish out of water trope as Kate struggles to fit in with a family that was in a vastly different social class than her own. Her feelings of inadequacy and uncertainty are tempered by a will to meet her challenges head on. She does not feel cowed by the snobbery she encounters. She becomes emboldened to make her place in this family.
I love the 1920's setting. That time right between the end of WWI and the beginning of the Great Depression was one of a nation of young people trying to forget the horrors of the past, and look with optimism toward a bright future. I find it so heartbreaking because I know what is coming in the year 1929.
What I Didn't Like:Characters:
Matthew was a problem for me. Of course, he would have the usual attitudes of a male in the early twentieth century. His patronizing way of speaking to his wife was to be expected. What I didn't care for was that he was a mama's boy who let his mother run his life. Considering how much he demeaned women, I found his worship of his mother to be inconsistent.
Sordid Story Line:
As I said, I liked the battle of wills between Kate and Hannah (meddling mother-in-laws create interesting dramatic tension). But I didn't think the story needed the addition of salacious side stories of incest, secret chambers where people are chained to beds, or murder. It really was so unrealistic that it took me out of the story.
It is not my policy to include spoilers, so I will not give anything away. But, the ending was so over the top, that I was completely turned off. I was actually really enjoying most of the book up until the epilogue. And then those last few pages killed any love I had for this novel. It was completely unnecessary and ridiculous.
I would have given this book a three and a half star rating, but the ending was so lame, I have down-graded may rating to two stars.
Release Date: February 1st, 2017
Genre: Historical fiction/mystery/horror?
Source: Amazon's Kindle First program
Recommendation: Despite the strong relationships between women battling for domestic dominance, I cannot recommend this book.