About the Book:
The USA Today bestselling author of The Au Pair returns with another delicious, twisty novel—about a grand estate with many secrets, an orphan caught in a web of lies, and a young woman playing a sinister game.
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.
As a huge fan of ‘The Au Pair’, I could not wait to dive into this book. This story begins in 1988 as young orphaned Beth meets the Avereall family at the grand Raven Hall. They have a daughter named Nina and it is intended that Beth might become her companion. Beth has an aunt but she is not ready to raise her young niece. Raven Hall is set in the beautiful fens, and is worlds away from the group home that Beth lived in.
Nina and Beth grow closer even as things seem a little off with the family. Beth becomes suspicious of Nina’s mother Leonora, and things really take a turn when the family patriarch comes to visit from America. Leonora and her husband Marcus ask Beth to take part in a “harmless” little game, but Beth realizes that something is not right. Beth is so desperate to fit in and have a family and a home, so she goes along with the couple’s scheme.
The book alternatives with Sadie’s point of view in 2019. She is a struggling actress and is invited to participate in a mystery weekend and she jumps at the chance. The play is set at Raven Hall and soon Sadie learns of the home’s dark past. How is this weekend connected to the events from the 1980’s? How are all the characters tied together?
I enjoyed this book and was very much surprised by the twists and turns which seemed to occur right up until the very end. The setting was stunning, and the author obviously loves the East Anglican fens. Each character was obsessed in their own way with Raven Hall, and that drove many of their actions. This is a wonderful read for any fan of moody, British thrillers!
(Thank you to the publisher for providing an advance copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.)
About the Author:
Emma Rous is the USA Today bestselling author of The Au Pair. She grew up in England, Indonesia, Kuwait, Portugal and Fiji, and from a young age she had two ambitions: to write stories, and to look after animals. She studied veterinary medicine and zoology at the University of Cambridge, and worked as a small animal veterinarian for eighteen years before starting to write fiction. Emma lives near Cambridge in England with her husband and three sons, and she now writes full time.