Sunday, January 17, 2021

Book Review: The Perfect Guest by Emma Rous


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.


If you are a lover of gothic fiction you will enjoy the new book The Perfect Guest by Emma Rous which is a modern take on the genre.  Raven Hall, an aging manor home that has been in the family for generations has loomed heavily over the story, and that alone gives it the gothic feel. 

The book centers around two main POVs that scan different times, Beth who is in 1988, an orphan who has been chosen to come to Raven Hall to be a companion to Nina, a girl her age who is kept in confine to the grounds of the manor by her mother. Beth gets pulled into a strange game of dressing up and posing as Nina, by Nina’s parents when her grandfather comes to visit. Nina is sick each time he visits, and Beth seems to think she is being poisoned.

Sadie is the second POV and is based in the year 2019, she is invited to Raven Hall to be a performer at a murder mystery weekend at the manor home. But soon enough one of the performers shows up missing. 

There is also an occasional third POV that neither the name nor the time is known, but it seems to be also somewhere in the past. 

The book is suspenseful, complex, and complicated, and I didn't always know where the story was going or even when it would end up, but I kept reading anxiously to find out the secrets of each of the main characters. There are also several secondary characters in the story, and it is sometimes confusing trying to keep up with them all.  

The book is split into two parts, the second part is shorter and ties everything up, but not before a few twists and turns that finally reveal who the characters are and what their secrets are. I did find a few of the twists at the end to be a bit far fetched, but the book was an enjoyable and easy read.

The Perfect Guest is a thrilling mystery that will keep you guessing until the end, but it is also a family drama that deals with obsession and risking everything to be able to keep what you really love. 

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