• Gemma

The Lost Girls by Heather Young

Updated: Nov 30, 2021



In 1935, six-year-old Emily Evans vanishes from her family’s vacation home on a remote Minnesota lake. Her disappearance destroys the family – her father takes his own life, and her mother and two older sisters spend the rest of their lives at the lake house, keeping a decades-long vigil for the lost child.

Sixty years later, Lucy, the quiet and watchful middle sister, lives in the lake house alone. Before her death, she writes the story of that devastating summer in a notebook that she leaves, along with the house, to the only person who might care: her grandniece, Justine. For Justine, the lake house offers freedom and stability – a way to escape her manipulative boyfriend and give her daughters the home she never had. But the long Minnesota winter is just beginning. The house is cold and dilapidated. The dark, silent lake is isolated and eerie. Her only neighbour is a strange old man who seems to know more about the summer of 1935 than he’s telling.

Soon Justine’s troubled oldest daughter becomes obsessed with Emily’s disappearance, her mother arrives to steal her inheritance, and the man she left launches a dangerous plan to get her back. In a house haunted by the sorrows of the women who came before her, Justine must overcome their tragic legacy if she hopes to save herself and her children.



This atmospheric, chilling novel is a tale of family history and drama. I loved how the dual timeline weaves through the generations of female characters, alternating between Lucy and Justine.

Lucy's story is set in the 1930s and based around the lake house. Here, Lucy and her eldest sister Lilith enjoy their freedom exploring the lake and its surrounding area. It was during one fateful night that their youngest sister Emily goes missing causing devastation to their family unit and the community around them. Justine, Lucy's great-niece, inherits the lake house after she passes away. She decides to travel the lake house to escape an overbearing relationship, taking her two daughters with her. It is during her time here that she finds Lucy's journal and discovers the secrets to her family history and the mystery surrounding Emily's disappearance. She also finds herself.

The dual timeline works brilliantly in this novel, allowing you to get a real feel of the characters and their family dynamics. The plot unfolds slowly but steadily capturing the essence of story and drawing you in. Beautifully written, emotive and haunting, this book will stay in my thoughts for some time.

Many thanks to Publicity Oldcastle and Verve Books for inviting me to join the blog tour and to Heather Young for such an enjoyable read.



HEATHER YOUNG is the author of two novels. Her debut, The Lost Girls, won the Strand Award for Best First Novel and was nominated for an Edgar Award. Her second novel, The Distant Dead has also been nominated for the 2021 Edgar Award for Best Novel. A former antitrust and intellectual property litigator, she traded the legal world for the literary one and earned her MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars in 2011. She lives in Mill Valley, California, where she writes, bikes, hikes, and reads books by other people that she wishes she’d written.

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