“1988. Beth Soames is fourteen years old when her aunt takes her to stay at Raven Hall, a rambling manor in the isolated East Anglian fens. The Averells, the family who lives there, are warm and welcoming, and Beth becomes fast friends with their daughter, Nina. At times, Beth even feels like she’s truly part of the family…until they ask her to help them with a harmless game—and nothing is ever the same.
2019. Sadie Langton is an actress struggling to make ends meet
_2020. when she lands a well-paying gig to pretend to be a guest at a weekend party. She is sent a suitcase of clothing, a dossier outlining the role she is to play, and instructions. It’s strange, but she needs the money, and when she sees the stunning manor she’ll be staying at, she figures she’s got nothing to lose. _
In person, Raven Hall is even grander than she’d imagined—even with damage from a fire decades before—but the walls seem to have eyes. As day turns to night, Sadie starts to feel that there’s something off about the glamorous guests who arrive, and as the party begins, it becomes chillingly apparent their unseen host is playing games with everyone…including her.” – Amazon
The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous would make the perfect movie. Rous writes in such a way that you can see the action happening in your mind. And I’m not always a fan of shifting timelines, but Rous was able to pull it off very well.
Her characterization was excellent. You could feel the longing that Beth had for a family and the intense feelings that come with teenage love. Rous was able to write Nina very believably as a child who was just starting to come into adulthood but was so sheltered that she was having a hard time. Even the unknown narrator had a deep personality, even though it was manic and twisted. And Sadie, although she was my least favorite, she was still written well as a person who was raised… well, no spoilers.
What really drew me to this book to begin with was the murder mystery game that seemed so much like Clue. And although it was a part of the story, it was just a bit part and didn’t really come into play until more towards the end of the story. But when the secrets and suspects started flowing, they did not stop. It was one twist and turn after another. Were they all believable, not necessarily, but were they all fun and each more disturbing than the next, yes, yes they were! It also had a vibe like The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, which is a young adult book I absolutely love.
You will need to suspend your belief, but that’s what makes this gothic mystery such an entertaining read.
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