Reviews > Published on January 19th, 2021

Bookshots: "A House at the Bottom of a Lake" by Josh Malerman

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


A House at the Bottom of a Lake

Who wrote it?

Malerman expertly conjures a fairy tale nostalgia of first love, and we follow along, all too willingly, ignoring the warning signs even as the fear takes hold.

Fellow Josh, surname Malerman, author of the smash horror novel, Bird Box.

Plot in a Box:

A saccharine meet cute leads to summer romance and discovery of the titular house.

Invent a new title for this book:

I came up with a bunch, but none as effectively eerie as the original:

Home is Where the Heart Is, Playing House, Underwater Love, Why Must I Be A Teenager In Love?

Read this if you like(d):

Bird Box, Neil Gaiman, Stephen Graham Jones, the novellas of This Is Horror.

Meet the book’s lead(s):

Amelia and James. Both seventeen. Both afraid. But both saying yes.

Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:

I think it would be really interesting if they cast Jaden and Willow Smith as the young lovers.* 

[*They were age-appropriate when I first wrote this review.]

Setting: would you want to live there?

A house at the bottom of a lake. Only if it had central heating.

What was your favorite sentence?

Is this his future? She might think. A girl said that to him once. Asked if this was his future. James didn't want Amelia asking that.

The Verdict:

Ya'll might remember a tense little book by the name of Bird Box that took the horror community by storm back in 2014. It announced to the world a prodigious new talent, one we all put on our "Let's see what this guy does next" list.

Well, next was the novella A House at the Bottom of a Lake, originally published by This is Horror. It concerns two teenagers who discover a special place and retreat from the world, only to learn that nothing stays special forever. This Del Rey reissue brings the fan favorite to a wider audience of Malerman fans. Or should I call them Malermaniacs? If that term has yet to be coined, I coin it.

Malerman expertly conjures a fairy tale nostalgia of first love, and we follow along, all too willingly, ignoring the warning signs even as the fear takes hold. This is the type of story that reminds us old-timers of what those days were like, how exciting and scary they were. Back when summers were long and we didn't have to think that far into the future. It is a bittersweet journey, full of sincerity and truth. One I highly recommend taking.

Get A House at the Bottom of a Lake at Bookshop or Amazon

About the author

Joshua Chaplinsky is the Managing Editor of LitReactor. He is the author of The Paradox Twins (CLASH Books), the story collection Whispers in the Ear of A Dreaming Ape, and the parody Kanye West—Reanimator. His short fiction has been published by Vice, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Thuglit, Severed Press, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, Broken River Books, and more. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @jaceycockrobin. More info at and

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