reviewed by Cara DiCostanzo
Who is afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?
In this re-visioned tale of Little Red Riding Hood, a sculptor, Rose Conley, forever changed by the loss of her daughter to Leukemia and her husband by suicide, takes a three-month sabbatical with her twelve-year-old daughter, Anna, to Paradox Lake in Upstate New York.
Quickly, she learns that there has been a horrible tragedy that has taken place on the grounds – a young girl, Sarah, raped and murdered, a few feet from the house. Unfortunately, the past seems to intrude almost immediately after they get there. She finds the trail near their house, where the young girl was murdered, and immediately is obsessed with the story.
Despite being in a long-term relationship, Rose falls in love almost immediately with the local general store owner, Tim. He seems to always be at their lake house, and Rose sees him as their savior. He brings them food and a boat and instantly; she has welcomed him into the family. While it seems odd that a young single mother would be so trustworthy and open with a stranger, there seem to be no red flags. As the story goes on, Tim becomes almost cringeworthy in his constant need to please. Strange things happen, such as shadows appearing by the woodpile and screams every night out on the lake. As Rose researches the death of the family that lived in the house before, she realizes the killer may live right near them. By the time she realizes that she and Anna might be in danger, it is almost too late. Paradox Lake is told in first person with voices from Rose and the “Wolf.” There is a surprising twist at the end, which brings the story to a shocking conclusion.
Paradox Lake is a horror story, in all aspects. It is bloody, gory, and graphic—not for the faint of a heart. This is a quick read, and the fast-paced story begins within the first chapter. Rose and Anna are likeable characters, and Zandri has done an outstanding job depicting a twelve-year-old girl and her wants and needs. He also does an amazing job describing the bond between a mother and daughter. Even though there are multiple “triggers” in Paradox Lake such as rape of a young girl, suicide, and animal torture, this book is admittedly hard to put down, despite those things. Personally, Rose is very relatable as a single mother struggling with her pre-teen daughter, after having had multiple losses.