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The Souls of Lost Lake

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Wren Blythe has long enjoyed being among the Northwoods, helping her father with programming at a youth camp. But when a little girl in the area goes missing, an all-out search ensues, reviving the decades-old campfire story of Ava Coons, the murderess, who still roams the woods. Joining the search, Wren stumbles upon the Coons cabin ruins and a rotting porcelain doll. But Wren Blythe has long enjoyed being among the Northwoods, helping her father with programming at a youth camp. But when a little girl in the area goes missing, an all-out search ensues, reviving the decades-old campfire story of Ava Coons, the murderess, who still roams the woods. Joining the search, Wren stumbles upon the Coons cabin ruins and a rotting porcelain doll. But even more terrifying is seeing her name etched on the doll's foot like a sinister omen. In 1930, Ava Coons has spent the last ten years carrying the mantle of mystery since she emerged from the forest as an eight-year-old girl, spattered with blood, dragging a logger's axe. She has accepted she'll never remember what happened to her family. When a member of the town of Tempter's Creek is murdered, rumors spread that Ava's secret is more malicious than previously imagined. Both women discover that to save the innocent, they must face an insidious evil.


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Wren Blythe has long enjoyed being among the Northwoods, helping her father with programming at a youth camp. But when a little girl in the area goes missing, an all-out search ensues, reviving the decades-old campfire story of Ava Coons, the murderess, who still roams the woods. Joining the search, Wren stumbles upon the Coons cabin ruins and a rotting porcelain doll. But Wren Blythe has long enjoyed being among the Northwoods, helping her father with programming at a youth camp. But when a little girl in the area goes missing, an all-out search ensues, reviving the decades-old campfire story of Ava Coons, the murderess, who still roams the woods. Joining the search, Wren stumbles upon the Coons cabin ruins and a rotting porcelain doll. But even more terrifying is seeing her name etched on the doll's foot like a sinister omen. In 1930, Ava Coons has spent the last ten years carrying the mantle of mystery since she emerged from the forest as an eight-year-old girl, spattered with blood, dragging a logger's axe. She has accepted she'll never remember what happened to her family. When a member of the town of Tempter's Creek is murdered, rumors spread that Ava's secret is more malicious than previously imagined. Both women discover that to save the innocent, they must face an insidious evil.

30 review for The Souls of Lost Lake

  1. 4 out of 5

    Stacy Wilson

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This review contains light spoilers and I list trigger warnings. Um, yikes. I just finished this book, and I actually feel uncomfortable having read it. I was a major horror fan, slashers were my favorite, but when I became a Christian, I was convicted to not read that stuff anymore. I've read other books by this author, and they weren't what I would call horror, but this one absolutely is, and it's the type of horror I personally need to stay away from. My feelings were all over the map while r This review contains light spoilers and I list trigger warnings. Um, yikes. I just finished this book, and I actually feel uncomfortable having read it. I was a major horror fan, slashers were my favorite, but when I became a Christian, I was convicted to not read that stuff anymore. I've read other books by this author, and they weren't what I would call horror, but this one absolutely is, and it's the type of horror I personally need to stay away from. My feelings were all over the map while reading it. I went from loving it, (which for me was a bad thing, because I was loving the slasher bits) to being really disturbed. I also didn't like how many people were mentally ill and that was the excuse for them to do wrong. There were so many bad players, and the reasons given for their actions were completely over the top. This book is light on faith. I was expecting much more with such deep topics. Lastly, after losing my mom 4 years ago after a long battle of schizophrenia, I can't deal with moms dying in books or movies. This book really was the trifecta of things I need to avoid. This book contains kidnapping, affairs, murders by ax, murder by knife, a preacher kissing a young girl in his charge, depression portrayed horribly, attempted suicide, strangulation Edit: For clarification. When I wrote “a young girl”, I was describing a teenager who was traumatized, emotionally compromised, set upon by an angry mob, and who had given herself over into the care of the preacher. To have that same preacher to begin acting as a suiter while the teenager is still in his care is an egregious abdication of his responsibility as a shepherd in Christ.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie DeMoss

    This is such a richly layered dual-timeline, Christian saga. Filled with mystery, secrets, and red herrings in both timelines, this story will grip you until the end. There is a Christian message of God's continued presence in the time of tragedy. There is also an exploration of honesty. Are there any acceptable lies? The characters are well-rounded, and the basic legend of an ax murdering teen is built upon in unexpected ways. The characters and setting were so intriguing, and both mysteries ke This is such a richly layered dual-timeline, Christian saga. Filled with mystery, secrets, and red herrings in both timelines, this story will grip you until the end. There is a Christian message of God's continued presence in the time of tragedy. There is also an exploration of honesty. Are there any acceptable lies? The characters are well-rounded, and the basic legend of an ax murdering teen is built upon in unexpected ways. The characters and setting were so intriguing, and both mysteries kept me guessing until the end. Jaime Jo Wright is a masterful weaver of stories. I can't wait to read her next book. I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin Miller

    4.75 ⭐️ Both haunting and heartfelt, The Souls of Last Lake is a must-read. The story is split between two timelines, one present-day and one set in the 1930s. The narrative for the present-day timeline is through Wren Blythe, who switches her focus from working with youth ministry to search-and-rescue when a little girl goes missing near the youth camp. When Wren joins the search, she signs up for more than she bargained for—and the secrets she unearths may cost her more than she can pay. The n 4.75 ⭐️ Both haunting and heartfelt, The Souls of Last Lake is a must-read. The story is split between two timelines, one present-day and one set in the 1930s. The narrative for the present-day timeline is through Wren Blythe, who switches her focus from working with youth ministry to search-and-rescue when a little girl goes missing near the youth camp. When Wren joins the search, she signs up for more than she bargained for—and the secrets she unearths may cost her more than she can pay. The narrative for the past day timeline is through Ava Coons, who was accused of murdering her family when she was only thirteen years old. When more people are found murdered the same way as Ava’s family was, the town of Tempter’s Creek is more than willing to pin the blame on Ava. The only problem: Before they can find her to convict her for wrongs she didn’t commit, Ava disappears. Where did she go? You’ll have to read to find out! There were several things I loved about this book. The first was the author’s writing style. Wow, it was so engaging! The way she worded everything and described the scenes made me want to keep turning the pages. Honest confession: I started and finished this book within a few hours, which goes to show how good it was! The second was the way the author handled the balance between spiritual truths and spookiness. Not going to lie, a few times, my eyes bugged out when reading both Wren’s and Ava’s stories because, well, they were spooky! But the author handled this book with care, and I so appreciated that. I’ve read some books that were under the genre of ‘mystery and suspense,’ but to be honest, the spooky scenes were described in such a vivid/gory way that the book should have been under the ‘horror’ genre. While not making the story too creepy, the author certainly did make my eyes bug out a few times!  Also, it takes talent to balance spiritual truths and spookiness, but the author did a fantastic job of making both relevant in the story, not one or the other. I really appreciated Ava’s faith journey in the story and how she ultimately learned that she was not only worthy of God’s love and being defended by Him, but also by someone else (*hint* it may or not be the person Ava disappeared with!)  The third was the characters. Ahh, so many good ones. My favorite I’d have to say was Eddie. His relationship with his mom, with Wren, and the grief he wrestled with after his mom died just made his character so relatable and personal. I promise not to spoil anything, but when Eddie and Wren have a certain conversation about his mom, I may or may not have teared up a little.  The only thing that kept me from giving this book a full five stars was the love triangle between Wren, Eddie, and Troy. I’m just not the biggest fan of love triangles, usually because they’re portrayed in a way I don’t appreciate. The author handled this one really well, though, so that’s why I only docked as few points as possible. (This dislike is just my personal opinion and not a reflection of poor writing, plot, character-building, etc.) Thank you to NetGalley for an eARC of this book. I would absolutely recommend it to those who love spooky, faith-filled stories that are absolute page-turners!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Deanne Patterson

    Does this publish in April? Yes! Did I wait to read it? NO WAY! Oh my!!!!!!! You've read Jamie Jo Wright books before but absolutely nothing like this! This is a book taking place in the 1930's and in modern times and how they relate to each other is slowly revealed to us. The author has simply topped herself in this one! From when I first read the synopsis of this one I knew it was the book for me. I simply couldn't wait to read it, devoured it when I did and talked about it to EVERYONE, telling Does this publish in April? Yes! Did I wait to read it? NO WAY! Oh my!!!!!!! You've read Jamie Jo Wright books before but absolutely nothing like this! This is a book taking place in the 1930's and in modern times and how they relate to each other is slowly revealed to us. The author has simply topped herself in this one! From when I first read the synopsis of this one I knew it was the book for me. I simply couldn't wait to read it, devoured it when I did and talked about it to EVERYONE, telling them they MUST read it when it releases! They'll probably hide when they see me coming as I can't stop talking about it. This book is so atmospheric and has a gothic feel to it. I felt shivers go through me as I was reading it. Not to give anything away but imagine eerie whispers in the dark,a broken porcelain doll's face,feeling a presence in the woods and an unsolved murder. Do you want to read this yet? #TheSoulsofLostLake #NetGalley. Publishes April 5,2022 I was given a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    Wow, wow, wow! Totally gobsmacked! I could not figure out either of the split time stories and I’m usually very good at it. This is absolutely hands down the best book I have read so far this year. You will not want to put this down once you start as it is fascinating, creepy, inspiring, and pulls on your heartstrings. Ava was the most fascinating character for me and I believed in her from the start even though circumstances didn’t show that. I can’t find words to describe how I was swept into Wow, wow, wow! Totally gobsmacked! I could not figure out either of the split time stories and I’m usually very good at it. This is absolutely hands down the best book I have read so far this year. You will not want to put this down once you start as it is fascinating, creepy, inspiring, and pulls on your heartstrings. Ava was the most fascinating character for me and I believed in her from the start even though circumstances didn’t show that. I can’t find words to describe how I was swept into a story that will be on my mind for a long time to come. The descriptions, timing, and weaving of the stories was flawless. My heart was pounding at times trying to help when I couldn’t. My favorite bittersweet scene was when Patty was saying goodbye as it brought back memories of my mom and was spot on in details. I could go on and on raving about how wonderful this was but instead I will say run don’t walk to grab a copy and settle in as you won’t be disappointed. I was blessed to receive a complimentary copy from the publisher/author. The honest review and opinions are my own and were not required.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cara Putman

    The Souls of Lost Lake is an eerie, multi-layered novel that kept me guessing. Both Ava and Arwen have stories that tugged me closer as a reader and left me wondering what was really happening. This is a novel so atmospheric and gothic that it will delight the most discerning reader and delight those who are fans of Jaime’s earlier books. Bottom line: Don’t pick up this novel unless you are ready to be drawn deeply into a world so compelling it will be hard to leave. The twists will leave you ga The Souls of Lost Lake is an eerie, multi-layered novel that kept me guessing. Both Ava and Arwen have stories that tugged me closer as a reader and left me wondering what was really happening. This is a novel so atmospheric and gothic that it will delight the most discerning reader and delight those who are fans of Jaime’s earlier books. Bottom line: Don’t pick up this novel unless you are ready to be drawn deeply into a world so compelling it will be hard to leave. The twists will leave you gasping and deeply satisfied when you reach the magical words “the end.”

  7. 4 out of 5

    Susan Snodgrass

    When I first saw the title of Jaime Jo Wright's new book, I was immediately captivated. And the cover sealed it! Without even reading a word or the synopsis, I might add. Now, after reading the book, I was not disappointed. Not one bit. 'The woods were alive and they were evil.' Wright weaves together two stories -told in dual time- that are so incredibly detailed and full of surprises, both creepy and nice, that I can't see how anyone could keep from loving this book. She always has a super wow When I first saw the title of Jaime Jo Wright's new book, I was immediately captivated. And the cover sealed it! Without even reading a word or the synopsis, I might add. Now, after reading the book, I was not disappointed. Not one bit. 'The woods were alive and they were evil.' Wright weaves together two stories -told in dual time- that are so incredibly detailed and full of surprises, both creepy and nice, that I can't see how anyone could keep from loving this book. She always has a super wow factor on creepiness. From the beginning of the book, I was completely captivated, and I was on pins and needles most of the time during the reading. Wright has another winner here and one for the keeper shelf. And I never even came close to figuring out the mysteries here. Totally took me by surprise. On both time lines. Well done!! My thanks to Bethany House for a copy of this book via Net Galley. The opinion in this review is completely my own.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Christy

    The Souls of Lost Lake gave me major book hangover! If you're a reader of great books, you know what I mean. Like you can't do anything or think about anything else when you've reached "the end". And you can't handle the fact that the book is over and you have to do real life again. Jamie Jo Wright's books almost always give me a book hangover, but this one was massive. Be prepared, people! And be prepared to be scared out of your wits while reading the "ghost story" at the beginning of the book The Souls of Lost Lake gave me major book hangover! If you're a reader of great books, you know what I mean. Like you can't do anything or think about anything else when you've reached "the end". And you can't handle the fact that the book is over and you have to do real life again. Jamie Jo Wright's books almost always give me a book hangover, but this one was massive. Be prepared, people! And be prepared to be scared out of your wits while reading the "ghost story" at the beginning of the book! I always buy paperback versions of Wright's books, so I can share them with my 76 year old mom. I had to tell her that I'm going to have to read the scary beginning to her, so I can tame it down! She told me to just tell her where the not so scary part stops and she'd read from there. Nope. That won't work. You have to know that part! If you can't handle ghost stories, you'd better have someone read it and water it down for you too! Yes, I say all of this -sort of- jokingly, but it IS extremely scary. The scariest part is that, like some ghost stories, it's based on events that did happen (in the story, not in real life...don't worry). That story thread weaves throughout the book and has a major impact on its characters. Speaking of the characters, they are amazing. They're so real. They're far from perfect and have fears and flaws, strengths and weaknesses. As with Wright's other books, The Souls of Lost Lake switches from past to present and both stories are completely amazing. The past and present are entwined in ways you may not expect. I usually think I have things figured out in her books only to find that I was completely wrong. Oh well. I think that of all Wright's books, this one was the most emotional for me. I was sobbing....ugly crying...during parts of this story. It is just so real. And that makes it so hard to detach from. Yes, you know you're reading fiction, but you are right there in the story. If you're like I am, you're not going to be able to put this down. You'll read way past your bedtime. One thing I really appreciate about Jamie Jo Wright is that she doesn't make the fact that this is an inspirational (suspense, thriller) book with Christian themes. Salvation and redemption are never hidden. You know you're reading a book that is totally scary yet totally Christian. I 100% recommend this book to everyone. I can't say enough good things about it, but I obviously can't say everything I want to say without spoiling things for you. This would be a great book for a book club because then you can talk about everything with people who've read it. And if they haven't and they're at book club, they'll just have to deal with spoilers! Really. Read this book. You'll love it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    I’ve loved all of Jaime Jo Wright’s books, but this is definitely her best book yet. Axe murders, creep dolls, abandoned cabins—the story and setting are so perfectly creepy. The romances in both timelines are perfect. The twists and turns keep you turning pages and guessing to the very end. Fantastic book!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Oceana

    I decided to dnf this after hearing my friends’ reviews. It goes too dark for my taste on top of already not liking the dual timeline. I wish I could get into her books but I think she’s not the author for me!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Tagg

    How is this the first time I've read a Jaime Jo Wright book and why in the world did I wait so long?! Admittedly, this isn't my usual genre of choice, but I'm so, so glad I ignored that fact and read The Souls of Lost Lake. I was immediately hooked...intensely intrigued...and delightfully surprised. I recommended it to my sister and she read it, loved it, and is now on a Jaime Jo Wright binge of her own. LOVED! How is this the first time I've read a Jaime Jo Wright book and why in the world did I wait so long?! Admittedly, this isn't my usual genre of choice, but I'm so, so glad I ignored that fact and read The Souls of Lost Lake. I was immediately hooked...intensely intrigued...and delightfully surprised. I recommended it to my sister and she read it, loved it, and is now on a Jaime Jo Wright binge of her own. LOVED!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Wardwell

    One part thriller, one part mystery, one part drama, and one part romance gives a whole lot of a fantastic reading. Once I actually had time to sit and consume this story, I couldn’t put it down. I definitely had a few “Crawdads” vibes from The Souls of Lost Lake but the split-time kept everything wonderful and unique. Now, I will confess- Preacher Pritchard gave a smolder effect. I mean, nothing is more…um…steamy?…than a man who Loves Jesus and people but is wounded. (Father, forgive me and othe One part thriller, one part mystery, one part drama, and one part romance gives a whole lot of a fantastic reading. Once I actually had time to sit and consume this story, I couldn’t put it down. I definitely had a few “Crawdads” vibes from The Souls of Lost Lake but the split-time kept everything wonderful and unique. Now, I will confess- Preacher Pritchard gave a smolder effect. I mean, nothing is more…um…steamy?…than a man who Loves Jesus and people but is wounded. (Father, forgive me and other woman who read this and fainted with the whole “ripped preacher without a shirt on” business). Now, this mystery/psychological thriller element - yikes!!! There was so much darkness and gloom that it almost had those “ghost story” sensations but they were weaved together with the faith element with out being cringy. And the “who done it” was not so easily detected. I love that. There’s nothing less entertaining than being able to figure out who the bad guy was beginning of the book. That was definitely not the case in this story. I can’t decide who’s story I liked more…Ava or Wren. They both fed off each other so well that you couldn’t have one without the other. This is truly a masterpiece! Welcome to my top five favorite books for 2022, Jaime Jo Wright!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Wade

    “Ava Coons was out there. In the woods. She wandered there. She wanders there still. Ava Coons and the souls she has buried there, and the souls she still takes from time to time. The souls of Lost Lake.” “Dead, dead, they’re all dead. Came today and chopped off their heads. Put them in pieces, in bits and in blood. Laid them in death in a pile in the mud.” “We’re all lost in our own ways. Some of us just hide when we shouldn’t. We hide in our grief, in our minds, in our pain . . . in the woods.” 4 “Ava Coons was out there. In the woods. She wandered there. She wanders there still. Ava Coons and the souls she has buried there, and the souls she still takes from time to time. The souls of Lost Lake.” “Dead, dead, they’re all dead. Came today and chopped off their heads. Put them in pieces, in bits and in blood. Laid them in death in a pile in the mud.” “We’re all lost in our own ways. Some of us just hide when we shouldn’t. We hide in our grief, in our minds, in our pain . . . in the woods.” 4.5 Stars Out Of 5 Another fantastic dual timeslip novel by the always amazing Jaime Jo Wright. I just love how her books build and build and ultimately the two timelines mesh together to satisfying conclusions. She gives sprinkles of clues along the way while never revealing too much. And it just makes you want to keep reading. Each book of hers is so different and yet so distinctly Jaime Jo’s voice. The Souls of Lost Lake has the great gothic elements of all her books with the perfect amount of creepiness. This time she uses a current timeline of a Christian camp (as a former Christian camp goer, counselor, and dean, I enjoyed this aspect) and a timeline of 1930 about a 20-something woman named Ava Coons suspected of chopping up her family with an axe when she was 13. In the current timeline, campfire ghost stories about Ava Coons still exist. I love, how as a Christian author, Jaime Jo Wright is never afraid to go there. I enjoyed the character of Arwen Blythe in the current timeline. Both she and Ava in the 1930’s have different circumstances but at the same time, there are similarities in how they each feel lost. And being lost and found and who you truly are, are some of the resounding themes in this book. And I liked the Christian elements as well. I will say that I figured out and guessed some of the reveals. But honestly there are so many reveals that I could not guess them all so there were some nice twists and surprises. If it were not for those things I did not see coming, I might have gone with 4 stars. But there were enough terrific and entertaining moments to round this up to 5 stars. I received this book free from Netgalley and publisher Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rosalyn

    Eeek! It’s late but I had to finish this book…had to know what really happened with Ava coons….the ending was a surprise. This book has a lot of creepiness going on. And other stuff too. In the historical time period - A lake hidden in the middle of a forest. A young girl carrying a bloodied axe, left without her family.... In the present day - Arwen (Wren) is fascinated by the story of Ava Coons, and wants to know what really happened. And then a little girl goes missing. This story is probably my n Eeek! It’s late but I had to finish this book…had to know what really happened with Ava coons….the ending was a surprise. This book has a lot of creepiness going on. And other stuff too. In the historical time period - A lake hidden in the middle of a forest. A young girl carrying a bloodied axe, left without her family.... In the present day - Arwen (Wren) is fascinated by the story of Ava Coons, and wants to know what really happened. And then a little girl goes missing. This story is probably my new fav from Jaime Jo Wright. But it does have a high-level creep factor, so it's not ideal for late night reading. ;) I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys a good mystery. There are lots of unexpected events in this story, but keep reading, and rest assured, the end is satisfying. Disclaimer: I receive complimentary books from various sources, including, publishers, publicists, authors, and/or NetGalley. I am not required to write a positive review, and have not received any compensation. The opinions shared here are my own entirely. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

  15. 4 out of 5

    Chris Jager

    You know you are in for a wild ride when a book starts with a campfire ghost story. My recommendation for this books, besides read it, is don’t read it at night and especially at night while in a woods. Creepy and yet a delightful read, I found Souls of Lost Lake by Jaime Jo Wright hard to put down. Not only did it give me that shiver factor that is fun in a mystery book, but it also had a good mystery in it. I love Wright’s writing. She continues to surprise me and makes me eager to open her ne You know you are in for a wild ride when a book starts with a campfire ghost story. My recommendation for this books, besides read it, is don’t read it at night and especially at night while in a woods. Creepy and yet a delightful read, I found Souls of Lost Lake by Jaime Jo Wright hard to put down. Not only did it give me that shiver factor that is fun in a mystery book, but it also had a good mystery in it. I love Wright’s writing. She continues to surprise me and makes me eager to open her next book. If you read mysteries or like a good scare, make sure you check out her books.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kailey

    I was sold on this book by the cover and the fact that it’s a Jaime Jo Wright book! I didn’t even bother to read the description because I wanted to be surprised by the story. It’s definitely a daytime read if you are like me and don’t like reading her books after dark. I loved this one! It kept me on the edge of my seat and also made me cry. I would definitely recommend it!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ann's Reading Corner

    OH. MY. WORD. This book is SoOoO amazing!! This is Jaime Jo Wright best book yet!! For those worried it is not Christian, rest assured it is. It is a good versus evil story. The faith theme was very evident and lived out by the characters. The characters were so easy to relate too. Oftentimes it seems as if fictional characters are perfect but Jaime did a tremendous job on showing that no matter how mature as a Christian you are, you will still have troubles and struggles. Also the theme of neve OH. MY. WORD. This book is SoOoO amazing!! This is Jaime Jo Wright best book yet!! For those worried it is not Christian, rest assured it is. It is a good versus evil story. The faith theme was very evident and lived out by the characters. The characters were so easy to relate too. Oftentimes it seems as if fictional characters are perfect but Jaime did a tremendous job on showing that no matter how mature as a Christian you are, you will still have troubles and struggles. Also the theme of never assume was very prominent. How often we assume things that aren't true, and then it affects other people's lives so drastically. Highly recommend!! Thnx to Jaime Jo Wright and @bethanyhousepublishers for the book. I was not required to give it a positive review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    A.L. Sowards

    The Souls of Lost Lake is a split time novel. One thread follows Wren (Arwen) in contemporary times, with a plot centered around the disappearance of a little girl. The historical thread is set in the 1930s with Ava Coons, a young woman who can’t remember what happened to her family, but since she emerged from the woods carrying a blood-covered ax and her family was never seen again, she is the first one townspeople suspect when someone else is murdered a few years later. Both stories take place The Souls of Lost Lake is a split time novel. One thread follows Wren (Arwen) in contemporary times, with a plot centered around the disappearance of a little girl. The historical thread is set in the 1930s with Ava Coons, a young woman who can’t remember what happened to her family, but since she emerged from the woods carrying a blood-covered ax and her family was never seen again, she is the first one townspeople suspect when someone else is murdered a few years later. Both stories take place in the same area, and in Wren’s time, the legend of Ava Coons had become a staple campfire ghost story. But sometimes legends get it wrong. Both Wren and Ava feel figuratively lost, so along with the suspenseful elements and the romances, readers get to follow both characters as they dig into their own pasts and discover more about themselves. There were some great twists and some wonderful characters, making this one a fun read. I definitely recommend it for romantic suspense fans who enjoy just a slight bit of spooky. It's clean with a few light faith elements. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for a review copy.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    "There was a lake hidden miles into the forest. Surrounded by oak and aspen. . . . Few knew of this lake, but that day the search party stumbled on it. Lost in the wilderness, they found its shoreline, and set away in the woods they discovered its horror." Tales told around the campfire. . . . meant to scare children and entertain adults. However, the story of Ava Coons was the kind of yarn that kept repeating itself, or at least that is what the people near Deer Lake Bible Camp in the Northwoods "There was a lake hidden miles into the forest. Surrounded by oak and aspen. . . . Few knew of this lake, but that day the search party stumbled on it. Lost in the wilderness, they found its shoreline, and set away in the woods they discovered its horror." Tales told around the campfire. . . . meant to scare children and entertain adults. However, the story of Ava Coons was the kind of yarn that kept repeating itself, or at least that is what the people near Deer Lake Bible Camp in the Northwoods of Wisconsin were beginning to think. Another little girl. Missing without a trace. Was it possible, or even conceivable, that the ghost of Ava Coons had come to haunt them again? Ava Coons was a pathetic little figure; stumbling out of the woods dragging a bloody lumberman's ax that would have been impossibly heavy for her spindly arms to wield, and yet her family had been brutally murdered (if the blood on the scene was any indication) while Ava continued to insist that she had no recollection of the event. Convenient or tragic . . . no one could decide. Years went by. And then there were more . . . Arwen Blythe has lived on Deer Lake Bible Camp property for years. Even though she is frequently surrounded by people, Wren often grapples with feelings of lostness and isolation, she has a difficult time bonding with anyone. When a tourist's daughter named Jasmine disappears, Wren randomly dreams about the shores of Lost Lake and begins to convince herself that she too has seen the wandering ghost of Ava Coons . . . but what possible connection could she have to one so young, and to another who is simply a subject of local lore? Two young women; decades apart, routinely misunderstood, with strong feeling of displacement; longing for belonging. They may have more in common than anyone ever expected. Will the road to discovery will not be easy for either of them? No, it will not. "Some things couldn't be captured but through the experience of pain. It was a wicked but essential way to understand the depths of perfection, the depths of God . .. ." "We're all lost in our own ways. Some of us just hide when we shouldn't. We hide in our grief, in our minds, in our pain . . . . in the woods . . . or in a story, like Ava Coons." Excellent book!

  20. 4 out of 5

    A.M. Heath

    What I Loved: Confession: I have yet to read a Wright book that I didn't love, that didn't make me read with the lights on, and that didn't keep me guessing until the end. But somehow The Souls of Lost Lake may have been among her best work. Now, this story does contain a rather gruesome crime and there are details in there, that while not OVERLY shocking, may still be a tad more than we're used to. It was certainly her most gruesome tale to date ... and gruesome isn't exactly my thing. But the m What I Loved: Confession: I have yet to read a Wright book that I didn't love, that didn't make me read with the lights on, and that didn't keep me guessing until the end. But somehow The Souls of Lost Lake may have been among her best work. Now, this story does contain a rather gruesome crime and there are details in there, that while not OVERLY shocking, may still be a tad more than we're used to. It was certainly her most gruesome tale to date ... and gruesome isn't exactly my thing. But the mystery. The mystery is very much my thing, and as usual, Wright kept my mind spinning even when I wasn't reading, trying to figure out exactly who, when, why, and how. I typically can figure out some piece of the puzzle, but never the entire thing. And The Souls of Lost Lake was right up there with the best of mysteries. The romance ... sigh. I was greatly satisfied. It was clean. It was sweet. There was chemistry bouncing off the walls. It was perfection. Wright has the most consistent handle on brooding, silent men, and I love her all the more for it. But even better than the romance and the mystery were the spiritual elements. While it may have been her most gruesome novel, I'd have to say that it's likely her most Christian novel. It was an absolute treat to read a variety of edifying thoughts along with the story. It would be my dream come true to see her continue to incorporate solid Christianity in all of her stories with this kind of steady, artful hand. Rating and Recommendation: I'm giving it 5 stars. I highly recommend it to those who enjoy a good suspenseful scare, old ghost stories, mysteries, and a dual-timeline. I received a copy from the publisher. I was not compensated for my review or required to give a favorable one.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    The Souls of Lost Lake by Jaime Jo Wright brings all of the spookiness and mystery we’ve come to expect as fans of this author. The split timeline novel gives readers two intriguing stories. In 1930’s a child is found dragging a bloody axe, her family missing. Ava Coons doesn’t remember what happened to her as a child, but the town thinks she murdered her family and accuse her of more recent murders. Pastor Noah Prichard believes she’s innocent and decides to protect her. In the current timeline The Souls of Lost Lake by Jaime Jo Wright brings all of the spookiness and mystery we’ve come to expect as fans of this author. The split timeline novel gives readers two intriguing stories. In 1930’s a child is found dragging a bloody axe, her family missing. Ava Coons doesn’t remember what happened to her as a child, but the town thinks she murdered her family and accuse her of more recent murders. Pastor Noah Prichard believes she’s innocent and decides to protect her. In the current timeline, Wren Blythe deals with the mystery of a missing girl. The legend of Ava Coon pulls her into the forest, and she feels a connection to Lost Lake. But things unravel when she starts to realize her personal connection to the missing child. I love how Wright weaves two different stories into one fabulous tale. The eerie settings and dynamic characters drew me into the story. Both timelines took plenty twists and turns, but also brought out a level of emotion that took me by surprise. Wren deals with a lot of grief and loss, as does Ava. From trauma to triumph, both characters had inspiring journeys through the pages of the book. There’s a layer of romance in the story, and I love the relationship that develops between Ava and Noah, as well as Wren finding out who she truly belongs with. This story does have that creepy factor, but the haunting story with complex characters will work its way into your heart. Be sure to check out the The Souls of Lost Lake when it releases April 5th. I received an ebook review copy of this book through Bethany House. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Connie Saunders

    To say that this book is a page-turner is an understatement! I was Immediately captivated by the 'ghost story' being told around the campfire, and I couldn't wait to learn more about the tale of Ava Coons. But wait...The Souls of Lost Lake isn't just Ava's story! It's also the story of Wren Blythe, and she and Ava are linked in a dual timeline tale that will long remain in my memory. Two women, separated by 90 years but both plagued by the same emotions: fear, uncertainty, feeling unwanted, want To say that this book is a page-turner is an understatement! I was Immediately captivated by the 'ghost story' being told around the campfire, and I couldn't wait to learn more about the tale of Ava Coons. But wait...The Souls of Lost Lake isn't just Ava's story! It's also the story of Wren Blythe, and she and Ava are linked in a dual timeline tale that will long remain in my memory. Two women, separated by 90 years but both plagued by the same emotions: fear, uncertainty, feeling unwanted, wanting to be loved, and needing to believe that they matter. This book is a compelling story that can be gruesome at times, but there's also a beautiful spiritual thread that touches your soul. In 2017, I read a debut novel, The House on Foster Hill, and I became a fan of author Jaime Jo Wright, but she's outdone herself with this book. It has suspense with strong Gothic vibes, twists and turns that you never see coming, a love story that is more than romance, and a faith message filled with hope, grace, and redemption. I can't say enough good things about The Souls of Lost Lake! I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher. There was no obligation for a positive review. These are my own thoughts.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Naomi's Bookshelf

    Jaime Jo Wright has done it again! I loved the setting of Lost Lake and the characters that we met. Ava was so authentic with her life experiences and struggles. Wren was also fantastic with the events that she had to go through while searching for a missing child. I especially appreciate her character arc with the knowledge of what happened in the author’s personal life recently. I loved the fact that the mystery wasn’t at the front of the story but was present if you payed attention. The clue Jaime Jo Wright has done it again! I loved the setting of Lost Lake and the characters that we met. Ava was so authentic with her life experiences and struggles. Wren was also fantastic with the events that she had to go through while searching for a missing child. I especially appreciate her character arc with the knowledge of what happened in the author’s personal life recently. I loved the fact that the mystery wasn’t at the front of the story but was present if you payed attention. The clues were planted subtlety and the observation were there if you were looking closely but I missed them as always. I loved how different it felt from her other books but it still felt like a Jaime Jo Wright book at the end. I would highly, highly recommend reading this one! It might be my favourite of her books so far. I received an arc via Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Challice

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I think this is my favorite Jaime Jo Wright yet! Bit darker than her others. My 14 year old didn't handle it well. It does deal with ax murderers but in what I would say is not overly gruesome. Wright tends to focus more on the thriller part than dragging you through all the gore. What I enjoy most about Jaime Jo Wright is her ability to take ugliness (murder) but also show you other ugliness than we tend to justify or make lighter of, such as: gossip/slander and self-righteousness. She ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I think this is my favorite Jaime Jo Wright yet! Bit darker than her others. My 14 year old didn't handle it well. It does deal with ax murderers but in what I would say is not overly gruesome. Wright tends to focus more on the thriller part than dragging you through all the gore. What I enjoy most about Jaime Jo Wright is her ability to take ugliness (murder) but also show you other ugliness than we tend to justify or make lighter of, such as: gossip/slander and self-righteousness. She has a balance of placing Christ in her works without being preachy...which is kind of funny in this book since one of our main characters IS a preacher.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Emily Danielson

    This was my first time reading a novel by Jaime Jo Wright and I really enjoyed it! First of all, I found this book to be very engaging, as Wright includes very descriptive details throughout the story, and rich characterization that makes the characters come alive! Second, I enjoyed the dual timeline and the switching back and forth to the 1930s and modern day time, and found this to be a unique element of the book. I also found this read to be full of spiritual truths and meatiness that further This was my first time reading a novel by Jaime Jo Wright and I really enjoyed it! First of all, I found this book to be very engaging, as Wright includes very descriptive details throughout the story, and rich characterization that makes the characters come alive! Second, I enjoyed the dual timeline and the switching back and forth to the 1930s and modern day time, and found this to be a unique element of the book. I also found this read to be full of spiritual truths and meatiness that further added to the strength of the book. Lastly, the ending kept me guessing and was full of lots of surprises! I highly recommend this read and look forward to reading more of Wright’s novels in the future!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Embry

    "Ava Coons took an axe, and gave her mother forty whacks..." The Souls of Lost Lake is so deliciously haunting that it sucks you right in with no hope for escape. The story grips you from the first page, and you are enamored with the characters the more you dive in to the story. The mystery consumes you and you can't help but wonder how the story will end when you have to take a break and put the book down for some reason or another. Your brain just can't wait to get back to it. The eerie factor "Ava Coons took an axe, and gave her mother forty whacks..." The Souls of Lost Lake is so deliciously haunting that it sucks you right in with no hope for escape. The story grips you from the first page, and you are enamored with the characters the more you dive in to the story. The mystery consumes you and you can't help but wonder how the story will end when you have to take a break and put the book down for some reason or another. Your brain just can't wait to get back to it. The eerie factor that you expect from a Jaime Jo Write book was TOTALLY there, more so than any of her other book I feel. I am not a thriller or "horror" reader. Not that I consider this a horror story...though I suppose if you really hate old porcelain dolls with cracked faces, then I guess you would consider it a horror story. Just kidding, it really isn't a horror story, just perfectly eerie. Like I said, I'm not a fan of thriller or creepy books, but I find that I really enjoy Jaime's books. I think it's because she always writes a beautiful message of faith throughout the story line. It's the anchor that helps the reader process the story, and it aids in lightening the heaviness of the tale. I love how the author is able to write split time novels and keep the reader completely interested. Both timelines have their own story and yet they perfectly intersect, and they're both equally entertaining. I think I say that about all her novels though. :) The characters in this book were raw and real. I LOVED diving deep into understanding their lives, their motives, and their history. The characters have real life issues and struggle through real life problems. Facing everyday struggles such as death. It's a heavy thing to live through let alone write about, but Jaime does it with extreme care, and perfectly captures every emotions that the characters are feeling. I tend to cry or tear up at least once while reading one of her books. The romance in Jamie's books are usually on the mild side. She tends to focus more on building the mystery and thrill of the tale than the romance, which totally works! Being a reader who MUST have every book I read be (clean) romance oriented, I honestly don't even care about the mildness of the romance. Her stories are just THAT good. However, the romance was turned up a notch in this book and I couldn't have been more thrilled. (Um, hello Preacher Pritchard!) I also really, really loved the romance in the current timeline! It was real, the feeling/emotions were long in coming and it was all just wrapped up nicely in a sweet romantic bow. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I loved the eeriness, the story line, the romance, and the major plot twist that I didn't even see coming. It was so well written and it was a five star read for me.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Hupe

    Many thanks to Jamie Jo Wright, NetGalley, and Bethany House Publishing for the opportunity to read this book! The Souls of Lost Lake is the first book I have read by Jamie Jo Wright and I must say, it took me by surprise. A dual timeline that begins in the 1930s when Ava Coons at just thirteen appears from the woods covered in blood dragging an ax. Her whole family is murdered but how could a young girl commit such atrocities? Is it even possible? Well, the whole town thinks so. When there is an Many thanks to Jamie Jo Wright, NetGalley, and Bethany House Publishing for the opportunity to read this book! The Souls of Lost Lake is the first book I have read by Jamie Jo Wright and I must say, it took me by surprise. A dual timeline that begins in the 1930s when Ava Coons at just thirteen appears from the woods covered in blood dragging an ax. Her whole family is murdered but how could a young girl commit such atrocities? Is it even possible? Well, the whole town thinks so. When there is another murder years later, suspicion falls on Ava once again. Only with the help of a young preacher and an old widow will she be able to hide from the tumultuous community. Meanwhile, in present-day a young girl has gone missing in the woods near Lost Lake, Arwen, also known as Wren has been helping with the search. In ways she can’t quite figure out, this disappearance has affected her deeply. Could this disappearance be linked to the story of Ava Coons who is said to still haunt this forest? This book quite confused me. Here we have a ghost story, an ax serial killer, a romance, and a Christian message? Don’t get me wrong, I quite enjoyed it, but I didn’t expect this dark of a story. For those who are not religious, this book can still make an impact and those who are religious will love the message it brings. At first, I felt the dual timelines weren’t that cohesive. However, they did come together perfectly in the end. The romantic aspects were pretty predictable but the development really enhanced the story and gave it some extra depth. There are two things that bothered me. The first is the portrayal of mental health. At first, the stigma of mental health was portrayed as it would have been in the 1930s. But towards the end of the novel, it is insinuated that those with mental health issues are more likely to commit violent crimes. Those suffering from any mental health issues may feel that stigma emotionally. The second thing I did not think would bother me at first. BUT BE PREPARED: SPOILERS AHEAD!!! Tolkien is a huge part of Arwen’s family.–Obviously since her name is Arwen. Her brother’s name is Pippin. Unfortunately, all of those who are obsessed with Tolkien is the dark characters in this book. It is silly, I know. But it is brought up so much about the love for Tolkien and then those characters are not the good characters. This doesn’t affect my rating at all. It was just something that made me frown towards the end. I will not tolerate any Tolkien-related slander. Overall, this will not be my last Jamie Jo Wright book! I enjoyed the messages, even though the mental health stigmas could have been handled better. I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Melissa’s Bookshelf

    Jaime Jo Wright is one of my favorite authors and this book exemplifies why. Filled with creepy suspense, swoon worthy romance, dual time periods expertly woven together, and a message of faith which deeply resonates, this book will grab hold of you and not let go. Set in the present day Northwoods and the small town of 1930 Tempter’s Creek, two women must confront the worst faces of evil. Ava Coons walked out of the woods as a 13 year old girl carrying a bloody ax with no memory of what happene Jaime Jo Wright is one of my favorite authors and this book exemplifies why. Filled with creepy suspense, swoon worthy romance, dual time periods expertly woven together, and a message of faith which deeply resonates, this book will grab hold of you and not let go. Set in the present day Northwoods and the small town of 1930 Tempter’s Creek, two women must confront the worst faces of evil. Ava Coons walked out of the woods as a 13 year old girl carrying a bloody ax with no memory of what happened to her family. Her cabin by Lost Lake lies burned and forgotten. Now an adult, she endures the sly remarks and suspicions of the town. When a local man is brutally murdered, Ava is the natural suspect. One handsome young preacher newly arrived is willing to take responsibility for Ava, but is he protecting a brutal murderess or a terribly misjudged young woman? Arwen Blythe, named after the beautiful princess from Lord of the Rings, has always felt estranged from her family, especially after her mother’s death. She works at her father’s youth camp near the ill fated place where legends are told of the mysterious murderess Ava Coons who disappeared years ago. Plagued with nightmares, her only comfort is her childhood friend Eddie and his family. When a little girl goes missing, Wren does everything in her power to find her. Usually with dual time periods, I find myself drawn to one story over the other, however with this book, I was eagerly anticipating both stories. I loved Ava’s sayings. One of my favorites is: “Darned if he wasn’t just the most handsome thing for a preacher, and that in and of itself was a sin akin to murder, wasn’t it? Preachers weren’t supposed to be good-lookin’.” Her humor and sympathetic story completely drew me in and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to her. I loved Noah and his willingness to put her above everything to protect her. I also loved Wren and Eddie. Their sweet childhood friendship and potential for more kept me totally invested. Wren’s relationship with Patty, Eddie’s mom, brought me to tears. While Ms. Wright is the queen of creating creepy, suspenseful situations you’ll want to read with the lights on, she also writes believable, deeply felt romances with powerful messages of faith. It’s definitely one of my favorites and I highly recommend this to Christian romance suspense fans or anyone who enjoys a good spooky tale with plenty of romance. Thanks so much to Jaime Jo Wright and Bethany House Fiction for a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own and left voluntarily.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    Whoa!! I need to take a deep breath and compose myself before even attempting to write a review on this spellbinding, chilling, brilliantly written, dual-timeline by author Jaime Jo Wright! I mean what can I possibly add to the many laudatory reviews that have already been written? There's certainly no need to recap what the story is about as that has been done numerous times. At first I was deeply conflicted about reading this novel because well—the description! I mean an ax-wielding 13 year-old Whoa!! I need to take a deep breath and compose myself before even attempting to write a review on this spellbinding, chilling, brilliantly written, dual-timeline by author Jaime Jo Wright! I mean what can I possibly add to the many laudatory reviews that have already been written? There's certainly no need to recap what the story is about as that has been done numerous times. At first I was deeply conflicted about reading this novel because well—the description! I mean an ax-wielding 13 year-old girl, covered in blood? But as the positive buzz began on social media I started feeling a bit left out and decided to chance it. The novel wasn't as creepy as some of my other fave suspense writers' books—a bit gruesome in places and spooky, if you will. But stories told around youth group campfires are supposed to be...right? Wren Blythe and the enigmatic Ava Coons (though they lived decades apart) have something very much in common. Both are displaced females who really don't feel a sense of belonging. When a six year-old girl goes missing, Wren becomes personally involved, but how does that connect her to a wood roaming murderess who lived eons earlier? I tried to connect the dots and solve this evil mystery and failed miserably. What an unpredictable read with so many twists and turns, it's a wonder the author was able to keep up! ;-) There are so many great quotes and lessons to be learned in this book! Oh, and there's sublime romance, too. "Some things couldn't be captured but through the experience of pain. It was a wicked but essential way to understand the depths of perfection, the depths of God ..." *I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley and wasn't required to write a favorable review.*

  30. 5 out of 5

    Martha Wilkerson

    Jaime Jo Wright does not disappoint! This book kept me guessing all the way through to the end.

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