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Sunday, January 17, 2021

#ATBR2021 Review: The Perfect Guest by Emma Rous

The Perfect Guests 
by Emma Rous

Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: January 12, 2021
Kindle Edition
304 Pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller

The USA Today bestselling author of The Au Pair returns with another delicious, twisty novel—about a grand estate with many secrets, an orphan caught in a web of lies, and a young woman playing a sinister game.

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.

My Review:

Would you take a paying gig where you had to pretend to be a guest at a weekend party? I mean, if the money's right... I probably, most definitely, would.  But man, they'd be mad.. I'm a TERRIBLE actress.  Sadie, is stoked for this job as she really needs the money.. and who would say no to going to Raven Hall?

Ok, so I'm a bit torn with this one.  Rous gives us amazing atmosphere, like she did with her debut, The Au Pair, that I read back in 2018.  Which I loved, though I had a couple issues with that one that I'm finding again in The Perfect Guests.  For it's moderate pacing, it does tend to run a little slower towards the end as there are quite a few characters to sort, not a ton, but enough that overlapped that I, at one point, closed one eye in concentration trying to remember who was who to whom and what the what. Got me? PHEW.  I also didn't find the reveals all that surprising or jaw dropping.  HOWEVER, I do loooove how Rous brings us these crazy people, in these big mansions and gives us this closeted feel that kept me on edge to WANT to know what was going to happen... even if I already had an inkling.

I also think I wanted to get more of the weekend of those who went to Raven Hall and their acting... I don't think I ever got a sense of what that actually *could* have been because it all blew up shortly after dinner the first night.  Don't think I didn't catch the irony of that and a statement one of the characters made in how they should learn more in the morning because what fun would it be to solve it all before breakfast. 😉

This is a fun and fairly fast read if you want a little crazy, dual timelines and a lot of *whothefuckareyou. It may have been missing that little bit of oomph I needed to really love this one, but I'm happy I read it and I will, again, be looking out for this author's next release.


Jessica's Review:

What I loved about THE AU PAIR, the debut from Emma Rous, was the overall atmosphere, the pacing was great, and there didn't seem to be any kind of filled or lull. Rous brings us something unique and just as fun to read in her second book THE PERFECT GUESTS. I don't know about you other readers that frequent the thriller and suspense genres, but it was so refreshing to have a new story that is set outside of the typical suburban neighborhood. 

Raven Hall is a beautiful and sprawling manor, even after all the renovations needed after the fire decades ago. So when Sadie, a struggling actress, is offered a job at Raven Hall she accepts. Being hired to be a guest at a weekend party at the estate seems like a nice gig, right? Well, nothing is ever as it seems and Sadie is learning quickly there could be sinister consequences to this party. We also get to meet Beth, in 1988, she's a young girl staying with the family at Raven Hall. She truly feels like she belongs and becomes fast friends with the daughter her age - so what happened to her?

We get multiple points of view, dual timelines, and plenty to keep you guessing and asking questions as the puzzle comes together. I loved trying to piece together how their timelines would or might intertwine. I wasn't completely shocked by the twists but this was 100% a binge read as I had gone through the first half without even realizing it. If you're a fan of her first book, THE AU PAIR, then I highly recommend picking this one up!

3.5 stars 

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