What Lies Below by Mark Lukens

No Series


Pam has been having recurring nightmares lately, and there's something buried in those nightmares ... a terrible secret trying to surface.

Pam was eight years old when her mother left her without a note or a goodbye, leaving her alone to live with her domineering father, a world-famous psychiatrist.

Now, twenty-four years later, Pam's father is dying. She gets a strange phone call from him ... he swears Pam's mother has come back. Pam knows her father is delusional from his illness, and she knows that she needs to see him before he passes away - she needs to ask him something. So Pam and Sarah, her eight year old daughter, travel to her father's estate.

But strange things begin happening there: Pam spots a man in the woods watching them; her father's nurse swears there's a ghost in the house; and Pam is still having nightmares ... and they're getting worse. There's a gold key in the dream, a key that will unlock the horrifying secrets ... if she can find it in time.

A short book at 153 pages, What Lies Below explores repressed memories when Pam, who is under therapeutic care and plagued by nightmares, has to revisit her dying father and try to slay her demons before they consume her.

The writing style is well-done as Lukens paints a convincing picture of a young, single mother who tries to make sense of it all her minds trying to show her. Her daughter is fortunately likable (not all kids in fiction are!) and plays a big part of the ending surprise of the book which brought it up another star level.

Halfway through the story I started to wonder if something downright paranormal was at play, but the author keeps it fresh with surprises and red herrings in the form of the maid, the housekeeper, the mystery of the mother’s history, and new discoveries in the house. Similar to Rosemary’s Baby in which you’re not sure if the narrator is reliable or if she’s just unstable and unbalanced, there’s a few mysteries in this intriguing novella.

Overall it’s a good story but once everything in revealed, it’s not as surprising as I figured it would be. The lead-up is interesting though, but it’s not a book that kept my focus full-time.

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