Review: Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake #1) by Rachel Caine

Print Length: 301 pages
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (July 1, 2017)

From Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.


My Rating: 1 star out of 5

It's hard to believe that this novel was written by the same author who wrote Killman Creek (book two in the Stillhouse Lake saga - a book I thoroughly enjoyed). In fact, it's definitely a good thing that I read that novel prior to reading this one, or I never would have picked it up and known the author could write a gripping story.

Stillhouse Lake starts off with a bang - literally. Gina is on her way home with her two kids when she realizes that someone has driven into the garage attached to her house. But that is the least of her problems - the wreck has uncovered the badly mutilated body of a young woman. Turns out, unbeknownst to Gina - her husband Melvin is a sadistic serial killer. Next thing she knows she's being tried as an accessory. This presents problem number one for me. While it is later said that the reason Gina didn't hear anything was due to the fact that the first thing her husband did was severe the vocal cords of the women he abducted so they couldn't scream, I still find it a little odd that she never once visited him in his "workshop" not even to bring him a glass of lemonade. Or asked to see a piece he was working on. My issue lies with the fact that there seems to be no such thing as forensic evidence in this world of Gina's. All the police seem to rely on is the word of a neighbor (who we are told nothing about) saying that she thought she saw Gina helping Melvin carry something into the garage. Of course, Gina is acquitted but the "internet trolls" take up the mantle determining that she got away with murder and threatening not only her, but her children as well. 

The book jumps then from that day to the present day where Gina, now going by the name Gwen, has bought a house in the small area known as Stillhouse Lake. She's been on the run for several years now, never staying in one place long, always dragging her two children from place to place using new aliases and burner phones. All of this has been accomplished due to the help of a "hacker" who originally led the charge against her, but "had a change of heart" when they found out children were involved. And oddly enough Gwen, who is mistrustful of everyone and everything, not to mention paranoid (more on that in a minute) not only just goes along with it, but feels thankful for the help. Hmmm okay. 

As I mentioned, Gwen is paranoid (not without good reason but still). This is to the point where she calls out to her young son to reset the alarm, doesn't wait for his verbal confirmation that he even heard her, then freaks out when she arrives back home from her run and finds the alarm not set. And when I  say freaks out? I mean she gives her teenage daughter the keys to her Jeep and tells her to go to the secret rendezvous point and if she doesn't hear from her mother to take the money and fake ID stored there and run. I mean she pulls a gun on her young son and scares the heck out of him. For no reason other than she overreacted. 

As the story goes on, two murders happen that conveniently mimic those of her incarcerated husband. And apparently, just like the police in Kansas, the ones in Stillhouse Lake are just as incompetent, immediately blaming her (again at first due to an anonymous tip). Even when it's obvious her kids have been kidnapped and she has an alibi she's still initially blamed. The town turns on her, she and her kids are physically threatened (and immediately after the police want her to turn over her legally owned guns for which she also has a carry permit for). Over and over this goes until finally the truth is revealed.... only to END ON A CLIFFHANGER. Well sort of. I mean this particular chapter is closed, but a new one is opened forcing the reader to continue on to find out what happens next. 

Sadly, as I mentioned at the start, I have read the second novel. And I rated it 5 stars (although in my defense I read that one first and I read it in 2017 so it's entirely possible that my tastes have matured since then). I definitely think I will start off by re-reading Killman Creek when I get a chance and then evaluate the two from there and decide whether or not I will continue on with the others in this series. 

                                     Stillhouse Lake is available from

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