The vampire motif has been used in contemporary literature in almost every possible way. Unfortunately, in the majority of books which are currently published the image of blood drinkers is far away from Dracula or Nosferatu. A gentle, delicate boy, apparently dangerous but only to some extent, losing his head for a sensitive teenage girl is not the kind of vampire that I can accept. That’s one of the reasons why I enjoyed reading What happened in Lake Falls by Artur K. Dormann so much. You won’t find there another Edward Cullen but a man who doesn’t forget his real nature of a dangerous predator.
The book begins rather typical. The protagonist Victoria wants to start a new chapter in her life. After a tough divorce with the emotionally unstable husband, she decides to hide in a small town called Lake Falls, nestled in the middle of vast forests. She moves into an old house with her eight-year-old daughter Kat and after the local doctor retires, she takes over his medical practice. Everything seems to fall into place. Not for long though. Kat starts to feel worse and worse and the diagnosis is merciless – a brain tumor that can’t be operated on. When Victoria starts to lose her hope, she meets a stranger who offers to cure her child. But she will have to pay for that much more than she expects.
It isn’t difficult to guess that the mysterious man who appears in Vic’s living room at late night is a vampire. However, he has nothing in common with Twilight’s glittering teen boy, El’lar is a real old-school blood drinker – ruthless and arrogant but at the same time charming and seductive. No woman can resist his appeal, except Vic. At this moment you may find it a little bit well-worn but it isn’t so. Nothing in this novel is obvious and clear.
Dormann plays with readers the same way like a cat plays with a mouse, letting us believe we already know how the story will end and suddenly turning the plot upside down. More or less in the middle of the book I let myself smile with slight irony that I had already seen right through the author’s idea but that was a huge mistake. The ending surprised me so much that I know it for sure – I will never take anything in Dormann’s books for granted.
Apart from the vampire motif, the novel touches a much more important issue and makes us ask the question – what is a mother able to do to save her child? Sell her soul? Sacrifice the lives of other people, including her friends, if that is necessary? And even if she does so, can we really condemn her? I have significant doubts.
What happened in Lake Falls includes everything that a good modern gothic novel should have – dusky atmosphere, some sex scenes, interesting characters, a powerful demon and unexpected twists in the plot. It is a must-read for anyone fascinated with vampires.