The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cor Te Reducit: the Heart leads you back!

The Lake of Dead Languages is a boarding school atmospheric thriller from Carol Goodman. I have read a few books by the author and have felt impressed by her ability to spin a tale using elements of weather and atmosphere creating a very gothic feel verging on to horror. What is it about boarding schools that gives such a euphoric at the same time a jittery feeling; to be on your own with a set of friends, adjusting and adapting to new environment and circumstances, friends or enemies as the case may be sharing your room, the bitchiness, the bullying, breaking and flouting rules, disregarding conventions and creating mayhem, all that part of ‘growing up’, and what not?

Heart Lake is a boarding school founded by the Crevecoeur family that provides scholarships for eligible girls and Jane Hudson, a scholarship student returns to her alumni as a teacher for Latin studies. The Heart Lake situated along the Shwanenkill is shrouded with its own legends of the 3 girls in the family who drowned and died. Jane herself becomes the sole survivor of the tragic suicide that befalls her 2 room-mates, Lucy Toller and Deirdre Hall along with Lucy’s brother Matt.
20 yrs later, someone is intent on punishing Jane for the events of the past and things are not looking good for Jane as her students Athena, Vesta and Aphrodite gets entangled in the mystery and falls prey to a killer.

The title of the book by itself causes an unpleasant feeling, but it is the use of ice and snow in the lake that creates such a brooding atmosphere that pervades the whole novel. In fact, there was many a time that I thot it was overdone, to a point where one more explanation about the formation of ice began to grate on my nerves. There’s also Latin verses and symbolism used to the max that relates to events happening in the school that also became trifle boring due to its repetitive feel.

The Lake of Dead Languages is not a ‘OH MY GOD’ thriller that will shake you to the core coz each and every revelation can be guessed at beforehand, but I loved the story for its stark and bleak portrayal of a time in high school when not every instance can be rosy and nice but darkness can permeate the most innocent soul. The gothic overtones in the book was excellently done and if you are looking forward to getting immersed in a solid gothic thriller with a boarding school frame work, go for it!

In the evocative tradition of Donna Tartt’s first novel, The Secret History,comes this accomplished debut of youthful innocence drowned by dark sins. Twenty years ago, Jane Hudson left the Heart Lake School for Girls in the Adirondacks after a terrible tragedy. Now she has returned to the placid, isolated shores of the lakeside school as a Latin teacher, recently separated and hoping to make a fresh start with her young daughter. But ominous messages from the past dredge up forgotten memories that will become a living nightmare.

Since freshmen year, Jane and her two roommates, Lucy Toller and Deirdre Hall, were inseparable–studying the classics, performing school girl rituals on the lake, and sneaking out after curfew to meet Lucy’s charismatic brother Matt. However, the last winter before graduation, everything changed. For in that sheltered, ice-encrusted wonderland, three lives were taken, all victims of senseless suicide. Only Jane was left to carry the burden of a mystery that has stayed hidden for more than two decades in the dark depths of Heart Lake.

Now pages from Jane’s missing journal, written during that tragic time, have reappeared, revealing shocking, long-buried secrets. And suddenly, young, troubled girls are beginning to die again . . . as piece by piece the shattering truth slowly floats to the surface.

At once compelling, sensuous, and intelligent, The Lake of Dead Languages is an eloquent thriller, an intricate balance of suspense and fine storytelling that proves Carol Goodman is a rare new talent with a brilliant future.

View all my reviews

Leave a Reply