By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain by Joe Hill

Having grown up in New England, I have a special affinity for Lake Champlain and Champy, the plesiosaur that lives there.  Which is a true story, by the way…

Despite my best efforts, I’ve yet to actually see the friendly, local lake monster, but I’ve still got time – and the desire to try again. You can see my last documented attempt here.

When I was looking for a short story to read, due to the general inability to concentrate on a full length novel, I vaguely remembered Joe Hill had one about the aforementioned lake. A quick search on Amazon determined that my shaky recollection was indeed correct. As I read back over the last paragraph, I worry that I’m overcompensating for the shortness of the short story by crafting a logorrheic review. My apologies.

Nevertheless, that brings me to my first point. Despite knowing that a short story can be any length, I felt this one was just slightly too short. The story begins with little Gail London annoying her mother to the point of no return. The result? Being forced outside in the early morning to play in the mist surrounding the lake. Gail and her sisters part ways once outside, with Gail walking down to the lake shore and climbing a very large rock formation. While she’s playing, she sees two of her friends. When Joel and Gail realize that the rock she climbed is actually a rotting dinosaur, they begin to see their futures change – notoriety, wealth, and adventure flash before their eyes. Even PT Barnum will want to met them. The two children are determined to stake their claim, no matter what the cost. And the cost is higher than either of them ever imagined.

The mist streamed in off the surface of the water. By some trick of the light, their shadows telescoped, so each girl appeared as a shadow within a larger shadow. They made long, girl-shaped tunnels in the vapor, extending away, those multiple shadows lined up like a series of dark, featureless matryoshka dolls. Finally they dwindled in on themselves and were claimed by the fishy-smelling fog.

Aside from what I felt was an abrupt ending (I honestly think I just wanted more), I enjoyed this atmospheric story by Joe Hill and it was absolutely worth the dollar I paid for it. It’s a sweet ode to the tumultuous emotions of childhood with an eerie and haunting undertone. It’s reminiscent of a good Ray Bradbury story and a great reminder that Joe Hill is one of the best short story writers out there (though this is not his best). Read it if you’re in the mood for something short and sweet.

Champlain and Pancakes

Pair this one with blueberry pancakes. While Gail’s mother is suffering from an epic hangover, she swears she will make breakfast if Gail and her sisters get out of the house and leave her alone for a while.

Do you have a genre you can’t resist? Mine would have to be – aside from grit lit – fictional monsters. Bigfoot, Lochness Monster, Champy, Abominable Snowman, you name it, I love it. This probably explains my love for bad sci-fi – Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, anyone?

7 thoughts on “By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain by Joe Hill

  1. I feel like I have several genres I can’t resist, but the first thing that comes to mind are sea-faring adventures. There’s something exciting about all the dangers you can come across on a ship at sea (as long as I’m not the one on it).


      1. I read “Twittering from the Circus of the Dead” and it was kind of confusing and weird (the entire story was in the form of twitter posts in case you haven’t read it) but I’m intrigued and think I should try some of Hill’s other books. Which ones do you recommend?


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