On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity. 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.
As 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?
I’m not normally one to go for thrillers. But in the spirit of reading outside of my comfort zone, and after hearing so many amazing things about this author, I decided to pick it up. I bought this initially for my mum to read, who really enjoyed it and passed it on to me. I wasn’t drawn into this from the first page, but it did turn out to be a super quick and, you guessed it, thrilling read.
This book is written from the POV of many people – including the bride, the wedding planner and some of the guests who are integral to the storyline. But the clever way this is written makes it clear who is who and doesn’t leave the reader muddled at all. I admire her writing so much for this, and I thought the addition of ‘titles’ for the guests really helped (at the start of the chapter, it would say Jules – the bride, rather than just Jules, for example).
And I’m not worried about it being haunted.
The biggest issue I found with this book is I struggled to like/sympathise with almost all of the characters. There was only one, maybe two at a push, that I liked at all. The way this book is set up makes you realise that everyone is out for revenge – and has good reason to be. But unfortunately, setting the story up in that way ensures most of the characters are looked at in a really bad light. It’s really clever, but I just struggle to enjoy a book when I can’t like the main character(s). The Guest List is the kind of book that makes you see how capable anybody is of falling into the wrong crowd and doing things they will regret. It bares the darkest parts of human nature for all to see.
Although a little far fetched at times, this book was super fast paced (at least, definitely after around 150 pages), and I couldn’t put it down. It was full of action with creepy undertones, set on an island in the middle of nowhere as a storm is brewing. It felt dark and haunting and definitely left me a little creeped out at times! Although some of the plot twists were a little underwhelming (or I guessed were they were going), others left me thoroughly shocked and made me realise what the author was capable of pulling off.
I have my own ghosts. I carry them with me wherever I go.
Overall, this was a great, entertaining thriller that I didn’t want to put down. It’s definitely one of those books that show the journey is just as important as the ending – and wow, that journey was a rollercoaster! Although not quite for me in places, I can see why this book (and author!) have had so much attention recently. It is certainly well deserved!
CW: drug use, drinking, bullying, self harm (graphic), suicidal thoughts, sexual assault, eating disorder, drowning, cheating, emotional abuse/manipulation
3.5 out of 5 stars
May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽