I read this book, I think, in January, but because of, you know, life, I’m just now getting round to reviewing it.
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Daughters of the Lake was recommended to me by Kindle directly in November, and the description hooked me immediately. It was pitched as a Great Lakes Gothic murder mystery with time travel and supernatural howdydo, and all kinds of things and that sounded wild and I wanted every part of that.
But I get reading fatigue real bad. I can’t say what it was that put me off at first. Honestly, probably just me, because, looking back, the pacing was good, the hook was good, the foreshadowing was obvious to the trained eye but not groan-worthy, and it hits you in the face with action right at the off.
I honestly think it was me. I don’t think any book holds my attention very well at the beginning, since I’m still building up my reading stamina. So that’s my attempt at making excuses. Did it work? No? fair enough, moving on.
So overall impression? I loved it! Once I knuckled down and told myself, ‘we’re not moving on until you finish this book you actually like and don’t have a reason not to finish,’ it went like a runaway train. I haven’t read for hours at a stretch in a long time, and I did with this one. I had some of the only late nights I’ve had since college, trying to pound it down.
I won’t go too much into plot, as usual, because pretty much any detail I give away is a spoiler because it’s so intricate and complex. Essentially, we follow two timelines; Addie Cassatt in the early 1900s and Kate Granger in the modern day. Kate gets these visions that she can’t explain to herself, but she’s convinced they will help to solve the murder of a woman whose body washes up on shore with a baby in the folds of her nightgown. Addie’s story is a poignant and bittersweet love story about growing up, identity, loyalty, secrets, friendship, and betrayal.
There’s a whole cast of characters, each with their own complex feelings and personalities and agendas who push the plot forward or drag it down. I want to say I don’t have a favourite, but I’d be lying, because it’s Simon. He’s an absolute doll.
In a way, the town of Wharton and Lake Superior are more than settings, but characters as well. We see them evolve between the timelines–what changes and what stays the same. Of course, there’s a reason for that, as well, but you won’t hear it from me 😉
As you guys know, I love doing reading group questions, and Wendy Webb generously included a set for us in the back. So, here we go.
The lore and legend of Lake Superior centers on the lake being a great spirit, Gitche Gumee. What are your thoughts on nature and the divine?
Well, I’m pagan, so pretty positive 😉 I loved the little secret that came out about the lake and the presence that it has.
Addie exhibits pure love while Jess blunders his way through. Is he ultimately to blame for her death?
I don’t think so. While I understand the intent of this question, I think it’s dangerous to blame someone for the decisions someone else makes and their mental health. Yes, he made mistakes, he lied, he did bad things. But he loved Addie, and he was a good man; and, ultimately, he did pay for his role in what happened to her.
What would you come back from the dead to set right?
It depends on when I die and what I leave undone 😉 If I were to die today, I would come back to make sure my loved ones are ok. I know that sounds cheesy, but I don’t have much to avenge, really, and a lot of people who depend on me.
Do you believe love lives on after death?
I know this is a popular debate topic, but I never really understood it. Like, I genuinely don’t understand the question. If we understand ‘Love’ to be a separate, sentient entity, then in context, the answer would have to be ‘no’ if the unit is broken up–the relationship is necessarily over.
However, if we’re referring to ‘love’ as a feeling, an emotion, then I don’t see how it couldn’t. If you love someone, the fact of them dying wouldn’t affect how you feel about them. You don’t love someone less for the sheer circumstance of their dying. You still have those happy memories, there are still those things that remind you of the feelings you had.
If you stop loving someone after they’ve died, did you ever really love them to begin with?
Were Addie and Jess meant for each other? Did the lake choose him for her?
I don’t really believe in soul mates, but in the context of the story, I do believe the lake chose him for her.
Did Celeste lose her mind, or was she calculated when she went to Addie’s that night in the fog?
From what I gathered from that scene, and context clues dotted throughout the book, I don’t think Celeste was calculated. I think she was an impetuous person, and she saw her opportunity.
By the way, that was probably the only part of the book I didn’t like. But I didn’t hate it enough to taint the rest of the book for me. I honestly feel like if they last chapter was just simply cut, it wouldn’t affect the story at all for me.
Both Harrison and Jess are deeply flawed but, at the same time, sympathetic characters. Is ambition the reason for their downfalls? Could you live with such a flawed partner?
That’s a tough one. They can both be assholes, but they’re also good guys. I think I could be friends with them, but I don’t think I could be married to them. Then again, different era, and all that. I might not have had much of a choice but to bury my head or swallow my principles.
Who is the angry spirit in the house?
That’s an obvious one, and spoilery, so I’ll just say, if you read the book, you’ll be able to put it together 😉
Why does the lake choose this time to allow Addie to wash up on Kate’s beach? Is it to finally right the wrong of Jess’s trial, or is it to save Kate?
I think both.
Fog envelops Addie the day of her birth and the night of her death. What is the significance of this?
I feel like it’s the lake coming to life.
When Kate becomes ice cold and starts shivering, what is happening to her?
I got the impression that it’s her experiencing what happened to Addie when she died.
What is it about Wharton that invites otherworldly happenings?
Wharton has that mystical connection to the lake. It’s kind of like those towns on the Sims, lol. It might be the lake that’s enchanted, but it permeates the whole place.
Would you vacation at Harrison’s House if you could?
Oh, absolutely. Victorian, definitely super haunted high society house that’s still owned by the family? Book me for the whole summer!
The character of Simon is based on a real-life friend of Wendy’s. Who would you put into a book, and why?
I have out bits of people I know into my books. There’s a bit of me and my friend, Luke, in Sulat and Alois (though Sulat is FAR from an author inclusion character). I think it’s easy to draw on real conversations, and people who you know how they’d react in a given situation. It’s like fanfiction, in that way.
If you could ask Addie and Kate each one question, what would it be?
Addie: how did you manage to hold onto hope for so long?
Kate: why didn’t you see it sooner?
If you could ask Wendy one question about this book, what would it be?
Did you spend a lot of time planning this book, or did it all come to you at one time?
Seriously, you guys should get this book. It’s really good ❤