This Season, Visit Shy Moon Lake
Reviewed by Rebecca Jane
This novel casts a spell. Its mystery grabs a reader by the spirit and does not let go. An ordinary family: a teacher, a poet, and a curious son, expect a summer vacation, but then enter a deep mental, emotional, and spiritual struggle. Be ready for a novel that effectively disrupts the peace with its power to contemplate historical accounts that unsettle us.
Reina Lisa Menasche gives us relatable domestic struggles between husband and wife and sets them amid the enigmatic presence of a haunted, bottomless lake. An assumption many of us treasure—summer months spent in a cottage by a peaceful lake are unquestionably idyllic — is shattered by the disturbing reality of a small town haunted by the destruction of a nature-dwelling people and their sacred ceremony. So the setting is idyllic, yet not. The family is happy, yet not. This story gives feelings that range from mildly uneasy to ghastly until a reader is grief-stricken and expecting doom. Where is hope?
Shy Moon Lake is not a small town full of friendly people. The people are awkward and standoffish. They seem scared of something, and no one is allowed to talk about it. When Jess, Charlie, and their son Jonah move into town, into the “Thurston place,” they ask too many questions. They wonder about strange red handprints on the rocks. The husband-wife relationship turns strained. We are poised to read on with hope awakened in our heart. Why and how does Shy Moon Lake have a beguiling magnetic pull? With the book’s complex characters, we try to settle in and make sense of a place where spirits and mother nature collaborate to mete out justice. This book gives us things to think about.
Plus, it is also cinematic. When I read it, I can see the otherworldly beauty of the setting. A row of cottages, a wall with warning signs, and an ignorant newcomer witness the calm lake swallow a loon? I’d love to see this novel made into a film.
This story explores the consequences of the murders of indigenous people, and small town culture, where the inhabitants now live as either sedated prisoners or lake spirits. The mystery and message are spellbinding.
The Spirit of Shy Moon Lake lingers with a reader outside the pages of the book. It inspires internal considerations related to what it is like to be sucked into a place or a habit or an addiction and not know why and not know the answer to this question: is there a way out? If so, what is it? If not, how do we continue, knowing we are stuck here forever?
But then again, the beauty of our surroundings may simply be reminding us that these very surroundings, this beauty, is longing for us to stay here because all will be well. Be sure there is a profound mixture of emotions and impressions that this book will leave on you.
If you like being drawn in by currents of fear and peace, if you are attracted to stories of mysterious haunted places, read The Spirit of Shy Moon Lake. Great for a cozy read this autumn. Here there is peace and intricacy; we’re lured by women, a town, and a lake with stories; we find ourselves in “a place too rich for books or computers, where underwater shadows play like children.” Would you want to stay here? Read to find out.
Reina Menasche will be discussing her book, The Spirit of Shy Moon Lake,
at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore on Sunday, December 12th and noon. Please come out and support this awesome writer!
Reina Lisa Menasche’s fiction has been honored by organizations such as the San Diego Writers and Editors Guild, the San Diego Book and Writing Awards, and the Southern California Writers Conference. Her first novel TWICE BEGUN, and her second novel SILENT BIRD, were finalists in the 2012 and 2013 San Diego Book Awards. Her newest novel, a paranormal suspense titled THE SPIRIT OF SHY MOON LAKE, was released in spring 2021. Her first children’s book, THE HOUSE THAT SNEEZED, will be released in early 2022. She is currently writing THRICE BEGUN, the sequel (and prequel) to TWICE BEGUN. Her website, reinamenasche.com, includes blogs on psychology and wellness, writing, and other social commentary.
Also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Reina has taught psychology and counseling at Southern California universities, as well as therapeutic techniques to human service professionals. In addition, she is a workshop leader at the Southern California Writers’ Conference in San Diego and in Irvine. She created the class called “Character Therapy—And You’re the Shrink” and “It’s Alive!” to emphasize the joyful creativity of exploring therapeutic exercises with a fictional character. Reina has served as Vice President of the Chronos Theatre Group and often uses dramatic as well as therapeutic techniques in her creative work.
As Host of BOOKSHELF, East County Magazine’s Radio Show on KNSJ, 89.1 FM in San Diego, Reina interviews local authors about their creative processes. Her website can be found at reinamenasche.com.