The Villa

Source: DRC via NetGalley (St. Martin’s Press) in exchange for an honest review
Pub. Date: January 3, 2023
Synopsis: Goodreads
Purchase Link: Amazon

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Why did I choose to read this book?

I enjoyed Hawkins’ The Wife Upstairs so when I saw The Villa pop up on NetGalley I decided to get another taste of her writing. Both books are based on classic novels and the history of their authors, but since I haven’t read any of them before these novels are lovely introductions to older stories.

What is this book about?

This book is about two things: trust and the pattern of male artists stealing from or taking the credit for the work of female artists. Perhaps more broadly is the idea that all artists “steal” (are inspired by?) each other and the book asks when this is okay and when it isn’t.

I think this book wanted to be a haunted house story, but it missed the landing and ended up being a murder mystery/scavenger hunt book instead. Both are good, but as I’ve said before it really ruins my enjoyment of a book when it’s heavily marketed as one thing, and then turns out to be something else entirely (see Kiersten White’s Hide). The book is amazing wrapped in a thin cling wrap of disappointment, which is unfortunate.

What is notable about the story?

This is going to sound weird but this book was pretty run of the mill for me. It actually reminded me a bit of the first Knives Out movie (which I LOVED) without the character development. This story kind of stays at one volume the entire time, it’s fairly predictable, but like your favorite meal at your favorite restaurant, familiarity with the structure and elements doesn’t make it bad it just makes it reliable.

Was anything not so great?

The very mainstream nature of this book is what made it not so great for me. This was the kind of book that I immediately forgot once I was done. I read the entire thing, then I moved on to the next book and didn’t think about Chess or Emily or the vacation house again until I sat down to write this review. It’s a little heartbreaking for me when this happens because I enjoyed it while I was in it, but I could have just not read it at all and ended up in the same place afterwards. In a life where I have limited energy and time for this amazing hobby, it’s kind of a kick in the gut.

What’s the verdict?

3 stars on Goodreads. It’s a ham sandwich, it’s a James Patterson, it’s bread and butter. Try it if you want, it’s okay.


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