3 Star rating
Cradle Lake
By Ronald Malfi
ISBN# 9781605425108
Author’s Website:

Brought to you by OBS reviewer Dawn

*Beware of possible Spoilers*


When Alan Hammerstun inherits a quaint ranch house in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, he and his wife Heather seize the opportunity to leave New York and the haunting aftermath of two miscarriages. Eager to start over in the rural North Carolina town, they hope this new beginning will be the antidote to Heather’s severe depression. For a time everything seems perfect. Too perfect, in fact. The neighbors are all young, handsome, healthy, and friendly. While surveying his new property, Alan finds a dirt path through the forest designated by stone markers carved with strange symbols, which culminates in a grassy clearing. One night Alan dreams the path ends at the foot of a lake and dives in; when he awakes gritty with lake grime and improved health and strength, he wonders if it could cure Heather’s depression and infertility as well. When the townspeople warn Alan of the lake’s powers, he must decide if the community’s secret is a nightmare or a miracle.


Alan Hammerstun and his wife decide to move after inheriting his uncle’s home in North Carolina. The house needs repairs but Heather needs the time to heal from her miscarriages. Heather is wasting away, literally. She is detached, a shell of a person. Alan is willing to do anything to help her.

The neighbors seem friendly, especially Hank. It seems like the perfect place for Alan, Heather and their dog Jerry Lee. The town sheriff seems a bit weird as he’s usually parked nearby.

Shortly after moving in, Alan finds a path behind the house. He follows the odd stones, on the path, to a lake. The water is ice cold to the touch. Hank warns Alan to stay out of the woods but Alan doesn’t take it seriously. Alan begins having odd dreams that might not be just dreams.

Alan witnesses a car accident where a child is injured pretty badly. Alan follows the neighbors to the pond where the child is healed. Alan does not believe despite seeing it.

What he doesn’t yet know – it doesn’t always turn out okay.

Alan decides to see what the lake can do for him. He begins getting drinking water for Heather. She begins to come back to him.

Despite warnings, Alan gets addicted to the results. But he is also fascinated with the history of the lake. I loved the Indian lore brought into the story. Alan visits a reservation where he questions George Youngcalfribs. George explains that the lake was originally intended for healing but it’s now harming people.

The land and gift was misused. It’s now tainted, dangerous. Alan thought it made him invincible. He thought he could control it but miscalculated. I thought it was significant that Jerry Lee reacts to the changes with Alan. Animals are very astute.

I read the book quickly because of the suspense. The psychology of the Hammerstuns is fascinating. They are both damaged but the lake is not the answer. Alan’s arrogance wouldn’t let him see the danger. Both he and Heather pay a price for their hubris.

I think men will like this book more so than women. I suggest it as a gift for Father’s Day or a birthday.