The Unknown at the Lake in the Woods (We Were Restless Things – A Book Review)

We Were Restless Things

Author: Cole Nagumatsu

Published: 2020

On Goodreads

My Rating:

Rated M for maturity overgrowth, meandering among the moss, and mystical murder.

The ocean had crept through the trees

and made them strange, like a thing in a dream that

tells you you’re sleeping.

Link Miller drowned on dry land in the woods away from any possible body of water. Ruled a strange accident, his friends were left struggling. Link’s close friend, Noemi knows the truth about his death and about the lake that sometimes appears out in the woods. Even more, somebody claiming to Link has been contacting her.

Noemi’s new housemate, Jonas, along with her best friends, and Link’s sister are the only ones who may be able to help. Together, they unravel the truth. Truth about themselves, the world, and what happened to Link. It changes their lives forever.

Gifimage

Nagumatsu’s debut novel was above and beyond for me. Though mysterious it didn’t take a full dive into the mystery genre but side-winded into Neil Gaiman territory which was wicked. While the mystery of the fantasy really caught my eye, I was stunned at how beautiful and heart-rendering the writing style was. Nagumatsu not only gave multiple POVs which I find to be so fun and immersive, but there was intermissions of journal entries that belonged to Noemi. They were just as gorgeous as the cover. Again, the Gaiman vibes were strong and I LOVE Gaiman, but the artwork included was like Gaiman meeting the barrier of Life is Strange. Such powerful storytelling, and it’s smooth and intimate.

Tenor

The plunge into writing an a-sexual character was astounding. Eye-opening. Absolutely beautiful. I loved the complexity of Noemi and getting to discover and understand her through her eyes. This doesn’t happen often in many novels. Even more, my heart oozed for Amberlyn and Lyle and how they unraveled, becoming my favorite ship in this book. They lit up like a sparkler, soft, vibrant, and breathtaking. Each time it came to Amberlyn’s POV I got all squeaky and excitable like a little girl just as I also got creeped and chilled whenever Noemi kept getting messages from Link. So many feels.

If I did have a con, it’s that this was slow-going here and there. A tad drawn out. The further along I got, the less it felt stretched and the more it felt like a delicious slow-burn. So, the con turned into a pro. I don’t expect all books to hook me right away, and I’m glad I hung onto this one.

Movellas

Each character was able to give a piece of themselves that was affected from losing Link and it was impeccable. Each account was astounding and fantastical in its own way and legitimately. From a strange creature in the woods to a lighthouse in the middle of a mysterious lake that shouldn’t exist. While emotional with grief and the blossoming romance there was also a good hankering of spookiness. I’m talking some serious goosies with how eerie it was and able to make me hold my breath.

Overall

I absolutely loved this book. I noticed not too many people did, but that’s okay. I found this one totally worth the read and magnificent. From the artwork and the writing, I was drawn in by the self-discovery as well as mystical one. The depth of independence-seeking was powerful as was the search to be understood.

Quotables:

“…Would you like to hear my unfounded theory on how your brother was murdered in a magic lake?” (Noemi, p. 68)

“I wish I could think like that. Sometimes I get lost in the moment and I just want everyone to know exactly what I think. It’s like starting a fire, but then I take stock of everything that’s going to burn down around me and wish I’d reacted differently.” (Noemi too Jonas, p. 96)

“If only you could hold on to light, climb it out of the unknown.” (Link, p. 201)

“…I don’t want my only accomplishment in this world to be a gruesome death that inspires a Rob Zombie movie,” (Jonas to Noemi, p. 210)

More to come soon…                                                                                               

  -K.

Have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!

Song Today? Riverside by Agnes Obel.

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