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Daughters of the Lake


Daughters of the Lake

After five years of marriage, Kate Granger has separated from her philandering husband, Kevin Bradford, and seeks respite in her parents’ lakeside home, only to have her solace disrupted when the dead body of a young woman in a white nightgown washes ashore. Perfectly preserved by the gelid waters of Lake Superior, the beautiful corpse with violet eyes and flowing auburn hair is cradling a dead infant in her arms. For the past three weeks, Kate has had recurring dreams, haunted by this very woman.

Kate rushes to the corpse in hysterical grief, feeling as though she has stumbled upon her own dead body. She has an overwhelming urge to hold the baby as if it were her own before she faints on the beach, a reaction that rouses suspicion from law enforcement. She and her estranged husband, whose infidelity is common knowledge, initially become suspects in this cold case, a murder that in fact took place a century ago. The body was so well preserved by the icy water that only the victim’s vintage nightgown betrays her age.

"While the murderer’s unveiling at the end of the novel may be predictable to some readers, diving into this gothic mystery will still be a pleasure."

Despite Sheriff Johnny Stratton’s suspicions that Kate is hiding something, he allows her to leave for Wharton, a nearby fictitious town on Lake Superior, sending resident Detective Nick Stone to follow up with her. Kate’s destination is Harrison’s House, the opulent home of her great-grandfather, now a bed-and-breakfast run by her charming cousin Simon and his partner Jonathan, who are in the process of renovating it to its former glory. There, she continues to be inundated by a phantasmagoria of the dead woman’s memories and the scent of lilacs in her sleep.

While sifting through old photographs, Kate and Simon discover a picture of Addie Cassatt and her husband, Jess Stewart, picnicking with their great-grandparents, and she recognizes Addie as the woman in her dreams and the dead woman from the beach. In Kate’s oneiric visions, her identity often blurs into that of Addie’s, potentially placing her in physical danger as the images begin spilling into her waking life, leading her to wonder if Addie’s fate is inexplicably tied to her own. As Kate becomes submerged in Addie’s past, with the assistance of Simon, potential love interest Detective Stone, and the ghosts that roam Harrison’s House, she uncovers a disturbing revelation about her own family’s history.

Wendy Webb’s omniscient narration gives the sensation of reading a fairy tale in a rocking chair beside the fireplace. Chapters alternate between Kate in the present and Addie in the past, from her fabled water birth in the lake in 1889 to her watery grave in 1910. Woven into this narrative is a legend of “the spirit of the lake,” a mysterious entity based upon real folklore surrounding Lake Superior. The lake itself is a prominent supernatural presence in the novel, with a numinous fog that rises from the waters, and a mysterious horned creature that sings, based on Michi Peshu, an underwater divinity of Lake Superior legend. The eponymous folk tale within the novel, “The Daughter of the Lake,” reveals the origins of a lineage of women who have an “otherworldly relationship with the lake” and have been given “the gift of dreaming” by Luna, the moon.

Utilizing the watery symbolism of amniotic fluid, the lake and the subconscious, Webb explores the relationship between the enigmatic power of women’s intuition and the cycles of nature and the moon. DAUGHTERS OF THE LAKE is an alchemical blend of romance, intrigue, ancestry and the supernatural. While the murderer’s unveiling at the end of the novel may be predictable to some readers, diving into this gothic mystery will still be a pleasure.

Reviewed by Rachel McConnell on November 16, 2018

Daughters of the Lake
by Wendy Webb

  • Publication Date: November 1, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Gothic, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 294 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1503900827
  • ISBN-13: 9781503900820