Title: The Perfect Guests
Author: Emma Rous
Length: 368 pages
Genre: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Berkley Books
Publish Date: January 12, 2021
Date Read: December 26, 2020
Type Read: digital arc, via NetGalley
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.
The Perfect Guests from Emma Rous was a deliberately designed yarn, unraveling with such perfection. I enjoyed it more and more the deeper I got into the story.
This is told by two different women in two different time lines. Beth tells us of her arrival and subsequent stay at Raven Hall in 1988 and Sadie is telling us of the invitation to a whodunit murder mystery type event at Raven Hall in 2019. And we go back and forth between these time lines filling in puzzle pieces as we go. Along with their narration, we get a third unknown voice here and there dropping breadcrumbs to the bigger picture.
Orphaned Beth gets the opportunity to be fostered at Raven Hall by Markus and Leonora. She is instantly drawn to their daughter Nina and the two become fast friends. Life at Raven Hall is wonderful for Beth until things start getting weird. Like a seemingly simple game that Beth is asked to play, which turns into something bigger…
Sadie is a struggling actress. When she gets the part, complete with wardrobe and instructions to play a guest at a party, she jumps at the opportunity. While the house is grand and inviting at first, it isn’t long before it becomes clear that she may be in danger.
The way this story was told was really interesting. It lulled a little in the middle, but I loved all of the twists and turns it took to get to the end. The unearthing of secrets in this book was so satisfying. I enjoyed making the connections between the time lines and the different narrations. This was my first dip into Emma Rous’s writing, but it will not be the last!