Every Home is a Horror: A Review of Mother Walked into the Lake by Alana I. Capria

By S. L. Edwards



I first came across Alana’s work in Turn to Ash Vol. 1. The story was a standout for me, one which made me move the book a little further away from my face and mutter “Oh damn!” When I came across another selection of the novel in Unnerving Magazine, I was delighted to have the same reaction.

Reading the entire novel, it is not difficult to run out of breath.

Part extended metaphor, part body horror and part haunted house, Mother Walked into the Lake is a work which demands the reader’s attention. It will caress the side of your face with gentle, cold fingers. The fingers will become claws, digging in with searing pain and the pinpricks of blood popping in droplets that spill into tides. You will forget to breathe in, but mother will remind you. She will show you how, and soon you will be breathing in the same coughing, gurgling way that she does. Because you cannot know any better.

The surface of the novel’s brilliance lies in its prose, the thick description of Mother through the eyes of her eldest daughter. Capria switches seamlessly between long, winding descriptions and short sentences to maximize the impact of her tone and description. One does not need to look hard for an example of the effectiveness of this technique, merely flip open the book and let your finger fall on a page:

“Sister, Brother and I sat at the table and watched Mother eat. She did not stop chewing. Her tongue got in the way of her teeth and so she bit that as well. Mother devoured parts of herself and did not taste that meat any differently from another.”

But this is only the surface of the novel. Beneath the visceral body horror, enhanced because in part because these descriptions come through the eyes of a child, lies the simple truth that every house can be a horror; that people are just as haunting as ghosts. Mother Walked into the Lake serves as a warning of the traps of domesticity, a dark mirror where family dynamics are twisted ever so slightly to accentuate the latent horror of banality. As terrifying as the Mother figure is, it is her routine and her relationships which make her even more so. She takes care of the children, she attends to a Father who never notices the grotesquery in front of him. She is desperately depressed, weighed down by her children and the role which was forced to contort herself into.

And just like the central figure, the novel should not be forced to contort into one mere genre or subgenre. It is at once a surreal caesura, a shambling horror story running at you from the dark corner of your closet and a feminist commentary on societal expectations for women. But it is no mere one thing, and ultimately it should be for the reader to decide which version of Mother they choose.

Mother Walked into the Lake is available from Kernpunkt Press.

Buy Mother Walked Into the Lake HERE

Buy Turn to Ash HERE

Connect with S.L. Edwards HERE