The Villa by Rachel Hawkins

Published: January 3, 2023

St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 283

Genre: Psychological Thriller

KKECReads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I received a copy of this book for free, and I leave my review voluntarily.

Rachel Hawkins was a high school English teacher before becoming a full-time writer. She lives with her family in Alabama and is currently at work on the third book in the Hex Hall series. To the best of her knowledge, Rachel is not a witch, though some of her former students may disagree.

As kids, Emily and Chess were inseparable. But by their 30s, their bond has been strained by the demands of their adult lives. So when Chess suggests a girls trip to Italy, Emily jumps at the chance to reconnect with her best friend.

Villa Aestas in Orvieto is a high-end holiday home now, but in 1974, it was known as Villa Rosato, and rented for the summer by a notorious rock star, Noel Gordon. In an attempt to reignite his creative spark, Noel invites up-and-coming musician, Pierce Sheldon to join him, as well as Pierce’s girlfriend, Mari, and her stepsister, Lara. But he also sets in motion a chain of events that leads to Mari writing one of the greatest horror novels of all time, Lara composing a platinum album––and ends in Pierce’s brutal murder.

As Emily digs into the villa’s complicated history, she begins to think there might be more to the story of that fateful summer in 1974. That perhaps Pierce’s murder wasn’t just a tale of sex, drugs, and rock & roll gone wrong, but that something more sinister might have occurred––and that there might be clues hidden in the now-iconic works that Mari and Lara left behind.

Yet the closer that Emily gets to the truth, the more tension she feels developing between her and Chess. As secrets from the past come to light, equally dangerous betrayals from the present also emerge––and it begins to look like the villa will claim another victim before the summer ends.

“That way I always know where to find you.”

Emily is recovering from a lot. Her husband had left her, her health was declining for no medical reason, her career had gone stagnant, and she felt lost. Then her childhood best friend and self-help queen reached out. Chess had a way of adding sparkle to things. When Chess decides to spend the summer in Italy, she begs Emily to join her. What could go wrong?

The whiplash I experienced reading the last half of this book is unreal. The twists and turns are bananas!

I found the characters well done; Emily and Chess are defined in their own right. The brilliant thing about this book is that it is a book within a book, within a book- we are talking major book-ception.

I loved how this story was told. We learn about Mari and Lara and Emily and Chess. We also see Victoria in Lilith Rising. This plot could have been confusing and chaotic- but it was not.

The writing was incredible, the storyline was beautifully presented, and the emotions were perfect. I devoured this book! It was impossible to put down, especially when you hit the 60% mark- buckle up… it’s about to get bumpy.

This book is setting the bar insanely high for thrillers in 2023. The complexity of the plot, mixed with the beautiful storytelling and the twists that keep coming until the very end, will leave your jaw on the floor and you on the edge of your seat.

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