Murder mystery parties are quite the rage, or so I hear. I’ve never been to one, and I’ve never seriously considered getting tickets for one, mostly because it sounds fun but in my head, it would actually be way less fun. I’m content to sit at home and play Clue.
Still, there’s a certain “fun” but also sinister feeling behind it. And I did thoroughly enjoy Knives Out, which was basically Clue but just better somehow.
The Perfect Guests used the murder mystery dinner theme as jumping off point, but then we get the whole backstory which is truly the intriguing part…
From the Publisher:
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 book opens on Sadie, a struggling actress trying to make ends meet, who accepts a gig as an actress at a murder mystery weekend in the country at Raven Hall. And that’s all well and good, but the story really gets going when we flash back to the past, when Raven Hall was a private home.
Really, if we had to choose just one main character in this book, it might not be Sadie or Beth (or even Leonora), but rather Raven Hall. Because people who have lived there, are somehow legit, obsessed with it. But I digress.
When we meet Bath, it’s the late 80’s and she has been sent to live with the family who lives at Raven Hall to be a companion to their daughter, Nina. Which is weird and Flowers in the Attic-esque, because why can’t she leave the grounds? Her parents don’t even make up an excuse like she’s sick or allergic to sun or something.
Still, the situation is what it is and Beth makes the best of the situation. Nina does have one friend, Jonas, who is allowed to visit from town and the three of them spend time roaming the estate together. It’s all kind of magical until Nina’s grandfather visits and Beth has to pretends she’s Nina.
I gave this one four stars because it was a good read. But there was some vagueness to the story between Nina and Beth that could definitely have been developed a bit more. Also, there are lots of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming, but ultimately I wonder if they were all completely necessary?
The Perfect Guests would be a great book club read, because I think there is a ton to talk about. And, of course, it would be perfect for anyone who loves the game Clue.
Special thanks to Netgalley and Berkeley Publishing Group for an advanced e-galley in exchange for my honest review. This one is out January 12, 2021. Get your copy!