Primary Genre(s): Mystery, Thriller
Published: 12 Jan 2021 by Berkley Publishing Group
Page count: 304 (print length)
My Format: eBook via NetGalley
Pacing: Generally good
Do I Recommend: Yes
Commission Link (U.S.): Buy The Perfect Guests
My rating: ★★★★☆
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 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.
A rambling old manor house in the fens, a “harmless” game, and a mysterious fire? Yes, please! Here are my pros and cons for The Perfect Guests:
- The book is told from three different viewpoints (two known characters and one unknown) and shuffles back and forth between 1988, 2019, and an unknown time period. The unknown narrator/time period is not revealed until well into the story (past the halfway point). A lot of books lately are written in the multi-narrator/multi-timeline format and I am a fan when it is done well. Thankfully, this book executed it very well.
- I keep notes while I read books so I can remember things to include in my reviews. The first note I wrote for this book was “Very Agatha Christiesque with a Clue vibe”. First, I would like to inform you that according to Wiktionary.com “Christiesque” is actually a word! Second, it really did have a very Colonel Mustard in the drawing room with a candlestick whodunit feel! This story isn’t Clue exactly, but it was the sense I got reading the book… and I liked it.
- The scenes at Raven Hall were my favorites. There was definitely something weird going on. It felt like everything and everyone in Raven Hall were just slightly skewed and you don’t know why… and that made it intriguing.
- The characters from 1988 were well done. I felt the most connected to Beth and her situation, most likely because we learn the most about her and her back story. But in general, I thought the 1988 characters were well-developed, or at least well-written enough to set up the story.
- The twists were good. Some were expected (even if I didn’t know exactly how they’d play out), some were very unexpected, and some were too random (see Con #1).
- The ending was generally satisfying.
- While I enjoyed the various reveals and twists, they seemed to go on forever. The reveal of what was actually going on at Raven Hall started started around the 75% mark and seemed to drag on and on and on. A few of the reveals felt a bit convoluted and random, including situations you would have never even fathomed from the information provided in the story. I love a good reveal/twist, but when there are like 7 of them the impact gets diluted.
- While the ending was generally satisfying, I have to admit that the reason behind everything that happened felt a bit underwhelming.
This was a solid mystery that was very reminiscent of some classic whodunits. I enjoyed the first half of the book a bit more than the second part (where I felt it started to stumble and lag just a bit), but I would still recommend it to anyone who enjoys the genre. This is my first Emma Rous novel and I enjoyed it enough that I am definitely interested in reading her previous (and future) books.
Thank you NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for providing an ebook, which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.
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