Customer Review

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the most spellbinding book ive read in ages - excellent, 23 Aug 2003
This review is from: The Lake Of Dead Languages (Paperback)
Jane Hudson has returned to Heart Lake – a girl’s school nestled cosily beside the waters of said lake – after 20 years to teach Latin. Many years ago, whilst studying there as a scholarship student under the charismatic Domina Chambers, a tragic series of events (the suicides of two roommates and her best-friend’s brother) occurred, that burnt themselves into the very fabric of Jane’s self, affecting who she is today. Now she’s back at the school, amidst the turbulent emotions of the teenage girls, struggling to cope with all the emergent memories, when, with horror she has to watch as the cathartic events of two decades ago appear to be recurring before her eyes…
This book is quite, quite amazing. I’ve not read a novel containing such rich, beautiful prose in a long while, with each word combining to form a fully realised almost tangible image, full of wonderful detail. Certainly, I’ve never come across a writer who can describe a lake in so many varied, and, quite frankly, once again beautiful, ways, with each new descriptions causing a bright smile of utter contentment to spread across my face, happy in the knowledge that our language can be used to evoke such wonder from a single image. The tone is, often, very claustrophobic and haunting, given the insular nature of the community in which the involving mysteries take place, and especially when concerning the eerie “three sisters”, - named thus due to an old myth surrounding the school - which are 3 stones which rise up out of Heart Lake, and seem to have some kind of mystical pull over the impressionable teenage girls of the school.
The characters are great, especially Jane Hudson (our likeable and very human narrator) and her young students, whom, in her Latin class are given classical “nicknames”, such as Vesta and Athena, which may be indulgent, but I found to be another completely magical touch. The plot itself is marvellous, original and puzzling all the way through and very engagingly told. Some people have said that aspects of the plot are predictable, but I didn’t find them so…I was far too wrapped up in the writing style to bother trying to second-guess the plotline. There are revelations throughout the story, each one bringing a wonderful level of ice-like clarity to one particular feature of the plot. The suspense is built up masterfully, yet almost invisibly, so you don’t notice it much, until suddenly there is a great sense of foreboding at the events soon to come. I am surprised that this is her first novel. All of this culminates brilliantly – along with the explanation of what truly happened all those years ago – to a pulse-pounding conclusion atop the frozen-solid surface of the lake.
Some books appeal to the heart, and some to the mind. For me, this one went straight to the soul.
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