Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lakebridge: Spring & Summer by Natasha Troop (REVIEW)

The first book in the Lakebridge Cycle from Natasha Troop, Lakebridge: Spring, is an old-fashioned thriller. It's the kind of book that understands it takes more than just blood and gore to make a great story - it takes an interesting premise to hook readers, a unique setting to orient them within the story, well-developed characters to make them care about what happens next, and an author who truly enjoys spinning a tale to bring it all together.

This is a story where everybody, including the moose wandering by the bridge in question, has a story to tell. Natasha certainly is not afraid to spread out her viewpoints and experiment with some unusual narrative choices. It's a bit of a quirky approach, in a David Lynch kind of way, but it really works. To continue along that vein for a moment, this is a story to become lost in, to immerse yourself in, to really 'hear' inside your head. Yes, there are some exceptionally long passages, but if you read them to yourself, even silently, rather than just scanning them for key words (as so many of us are prone to do), you'll quickly come to appreciate that Natasha isn't just writing a book . . . she's telling you a story.

The balance of emotions represented in the story is almost perfect. Natasha offers up plenty of tension here, and some scenes of high drama, but she smartly uses moments of humour (both subtle and absurd) to give the reader time to breathe.

With the second book in the Cycle, Lakebridge: Summer, Natasha continues precisely where she left us. As we enjoy our second tour of Stansbury, we really get a sense of what a clever tale she has woven. All of the elements were there in the first book, but the significance of many lay hidden, waiting for their turn to be exposed. If you thought the roots history and mythology were deep in this the town, you may just be surprised at how twisted and interwoven they truly are.

When I read Spring, my first thought was that Natasha had put together an almost-perfect, self-contained story of horror, set in a small town. While there were enough lingering questions to compel me towards the sequel, it didn't feel as if we'd been intentionally left hanging. As odd as it may sound, I could say the exact same thing about Summer. Sure, it assumes some familiarity with the town and its inhabitants, and certainly extends many of the storylines of the first book, but it took works as a self-contained slice of small town horror.

The element of the supernatural really comes to the forefront here, revealing many of the truths that were hinted at the first time around. It's as if, with the characters and the history established, Natasha allowed herself to let the story expand. She's still very much in control, and that same mixture of wonderful language and careful pacing is present here, but it feels as if we're really moving towards something larger. There's more history here, more mythology, and more story. That's not to say she neglects her characters - you'll come to love or loathe the characters you merely liked or disliked - but she blends them a bit more into the overall mythology.

Ultimately, though, what I think I liked most about the transition from Spring to Summer was the sense of consequence. It often seems like books in a longer series have a hidden reset button, one that allows the author and the reader to start fresh, with no lingering obligations. I loved how Natasha ensured that neither words nor deeds were forgotten in moving through the seasons, and demonstrated precisely how the smallest actions can have the largest, lingering consequences. I suspect that's a theme we'll continue to see explored, with elements of the final book hearkening brilliantly back to the first.

If you're in the mood for something to read and enjoy, the kind of book to linger over all evening, and then think about all the next day, then give the world of the Lakebridge a try.



Natasha grew up in Southern California and received her Bachelor’s degree from UCLA in Comparative Literature. She also holds Masters Degrees in both Secondary Education and Creative Writing. Natasha currently lives in the Phoenix area with her spouse, son, daughter and menagerie of pets, including a Basset named Moose and a very overprotective collie dog. Aside from writing and teaching high school students to love theatre.

Be sure to visit her at http://www.lakebridgecycle.com/ to learn more about the mysterious town of Stansbury, Vermont, and then pop over to http://stansburyvt.blogspot.ca/ to learn more about the woman behind the mystery, Natasha herself!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for review from First Rule Publicity from the author as part of a virtual book tour. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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