This place is enough to make you believe in ghosts.
Published: June 2, 2020
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 326 (Kindle edition)
Series: N/A – Standalone
It’s all somewhat out of control, though, everything getting out of hand.
The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body
On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.
But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.
And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?
Trigger Warning: self-harm, suicide
I am so excited to be reviewing this one today because The Guest List was one of my most anticipated reads of the Fall, and I was so thrilled to see my library was offering it through their ebranch. It wasn’t on my TBR for September, but my hold came in and I knew I had to start it! I actually just finished it this morning (on the day I’m writing this) and I wanted to get my review typed up while all my thoughts were still fresh in my head. Let’s get started!
First and foremost, I want to say I love a mystery/thriller set in the UK. I think it adds a really different atmosphere as opposed to the US (the accents, phrases, locations, etc.) and reminds me of Ruth Ware, one of my favorite writers. It wasn’t something I realized until recently, but I really love thrillers that are set outside the US. In fact, the writing itself reminded me a lot of Ruth Ware and I loved it. The way the author is able to create such atmosphere from the isolated setting, the posh décor, the shifty wedding guests, was skilled and addicting.
I was first hooked on the premise of this novel. It reminded me very much of Harper’s Island, the 2009 CBS show about a murderer picking a wedding party off one-by-one on, you guessed it, Harper’s Island. I watched this (probably when I was much too young) and I really enjoyed it, so I knew that I wanted to read this and kind of relive those story elements I liked. And this lived up to that!
I loved the spooky island setting, the rocky shoreline and the cemetery and the island itself that had a past just as much as any of the guests. The multiple POVs used throughout the book made it a really immersive experience and getting to see all the storylines play out slowly helped to keep the pace of this book. It felt a little slow to start, but once you get past the first few initial chapters it’s like the book flies by and you can’t stop until you’re at the end, whatever the end is.
Because you don’t know who is going to die and who is going to be the killer, it’s as though everyone is untrustworthy. There are little snippets of every chapter, every POV, where the characters will say something fishy or make you question what you think of them and it made for an addicting read. I love that little thrill of not knowing what character to trust, it’s an element that not a lot of authors can pull off well.
The only reason this wasn’t a five-star read for me was just the ending. While I didn’t see the pieces coming together specifically, I kind of had an inkling about where all the stories were going. There was no real shocking twist for me, which was what I was really craving. And again, while I enjoyed the premise and enjoyed reading this book, it has been done before…. multiple times. It wasn’t very original in a lot of ways.
If you’ve read this one already please reach out so we can discuss together! I have lots of more specific thoughts on the ending! And now I’m even more excited to pick up her other thriller, The Hunting Party!
Other Novels by Lucy Foley