My favorite Rachel Hawkins book to date! A book within a book, two authors who are frenemies, an Italian villa, and Julia Whelan narrating. Loved it all.
Emily and Chess are lifelong best friends but have grown apart as their lives have taken different paths. Emily is suffering from anxiety and writer’s block, so When Chess suggests spending time in Italy, Emily agrees. Did I trust Chess? Not completely but I had a feeling there was at least one unreliable narrator here!
At Villa Aestas, their home in Orvieto, Italy, Emily uncovers what seem to be clues about the villa’s tragic past. Formerly known as Villa Rosato, it was the setting for a high profile murder in the 1970’s. But what also occurred during that summer was the creation of one of the best horror novels of all time and a wildly successful album.
I love a dual timeline, and I especially loved the 1970’s timeline here. The characters staying in Villa Rosato in 1974 were not entirely likeable but all fascinating. The book does get off to a slow start but the ending absolutely delivered in terms of surprises! Narration by Julia Whelan was, as always, perfection, and I enjoyed the other narrators as well. I devoured this thriller!
(I received a complimentary copy of this audiobook from Macmillan Audio through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.)
About the Book:
From New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins comes a deliciously wicked gothic suspense, set at an Italian villa with a dark history, for fans of Lucy Foley and Ruth Ware.
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.