Lake Thirteen, by Greg Herren (2013)

Lake Thirteen

Creepy Summer Chills, Perfect for the Beach

(nb: I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley)

Scotty Thompson is about to enter his Senior Year. He has all the usual problems of boys that age: facing one more year of high school, working a summer job, and trying to find time to see his beloved.

Oh, one more thing: Scotty has just come-out to his parents as gay. His parents took the news well, and have been supportive. His boyfriend, Marc, lives with his virulently anti-gay father, so Scotty has to play straight whenever he’s at Marc’s house.

For the summer, Scotty and his family are off to Mohawk Lodge, a rustic mountain getaway in upstate New York, for a vacation with two other families. The three clans are close as family and vacation together every year.

The other families’ four kids—Logan and Teresa Stark, and Carson and Rachel Wolfe—are like only-child Scotty’s brothers and sisters. Not wanting to keep anything from his friends, he’d sent them each a pre-vacation email explaining that he is gay.

Nobody wrote him back.

Scotty is scared to death they’ve rejected him, and that this vacation will be a living hell.

It will. But not for the reason Scotty had feared.

The four old friends embrace Scotty as if nothing has changed since his coming-out. They’re all completely okay with it. Relieved, Scotty gets ready for a fun two weeks.

The first night there, Carson—a fan of ghost hunting shows—decides they should explore an old cemetery near the lodge. With nothing else to do, the others agree. In the cemetery, Scotty feels drawn to one particular grave. The headstone reads, “Albert Tyler, June 10, 1890 to August 20, 1907.” Though not a big paranormal believer, Scotty’s skin chills, and he feels a presence, an aching sadness. And the late Albert Tyler’s birthday is the same as his own, June 10th*. The shared birthday aside, why is Scotty so drawn to this grave? Later that night, why is he awakened by a mournful voice calling from the thick woods outside? And what is he to make of the brief glimpses he gets into what appears to be—but surely can’t be—a different time?

As Scotty and his friends dig into the mysterious happenings around Lake Thirteen, they find themselves embroiled in a decades-old mystery, with very real, very evil, very present-day consequences.

I love books like “Lake Thirteen.” I was hooked from the first few pages, and veteran mystery author Greg Herren keeps the intensity simmering throughout.

Also, “Lake Thirteen” isn’t a long book. The story is beautifully told, the characters well-shaded–there’s nothing of any importance missing.
What Herren does so wonderfully is leave out extraneous over-descriptions and cluttering subplots.

So many authors write as if they were paid by the word, describing every lid on every trashcan on every street. Herren’s economy enhances the novel’s effectiveness, keeping the disquieting events flowing.

I also love the way the teens are portrayed. Yes, Scotty is gay. The other four know that going in, as do we. They worry about Scotty’s homosexuality only inasmuch as it could affect him: bigots, hate-groups, ad nauseam. That’s how friends act toward other friends. For Scotty, once he’s relieved of his initial trepidation, he worries only about Marc back in Chicago, trapped with his drunk and violent father. Before Scotty left, Marc told him he couldn’t help but feel it was the last time he’d ever see Scotty. Once the creepiness descends on Lake Thirteen, Scotty can’t help but wonder if Marc’s premonition might just be accurate.

Nor can we.

“Lake Thirteen” is streamlined, beautiful storytelling at its finest.

Most Highly Recommended

*- Bonus freak-out points because my birthday is also June 10th. I swear if weird shit starts happening to me, I’m going to be pissed!


About tom

B.A. in Literature, Minor in Film Theory and Criticism, thus meaning all I’m trained is to write blog posts here. Neptune is my favorite planet–it vents methane into the solar system like my brother does. I think Chicken McNuggets look like Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Indiana. There are times when I’m medicated, which is why I wrote about McNuggets. Buy some today and tell me I’m wrong! Anyway, Beyond that: mammal, Floridian, biped.Good Night, and Good Luck. Besos, tom
This entry was posted in Books, LGBT, Mysteries/Thrillers, Paranormal, Young Adult. Bookmark the permalink.

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