The Villa, Rachel Hawkins

A turquoise cover with lemons growing. There is a crack down the center of the cover with the title in white and the author name to match the lemons.

About the Book

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.

Inspired by Fleetwood Mac, the Manson murders, and the infamous summer Percy and Mary Shelley spent with Lord Byron at a Lake Geneva castle––the birthplace of Frankenstein––The Villa welcomes you into its deadly legacy.

Book Links
Releasing January 3rd

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My Thoughts

Best friends, Emily and Chess, are in Italy for the summer to work. Both writers, Em with cozy mystery and Chess with self-help and empowerment, this is the perfect opportunity for them to work on their books. The house they’re renting has a history. In the 70s, rocker Noel invites Pierce, his girlfriend Mari, and her stepsister Lara, to spend some time at the villa with him. When someone gets murdered, it tops the headlines, marking the villa as a murder house. Something Emily gets very invested in. Told in alternating timelines, this book packs two stories into one.

They’ve labeled The Villa as a thriller, but if you go into reading this thinking of it as literary or contemporary fiction, you won’t feel like you blinked and missed the thriller aspect. When a book is a thriller, I get the edge of my seat feeling, furiously flipping pages to get through the action, and that didn’t happen with this. That’s not to say this isn’t an enjoyable read because I liked it; it just isn’t a thriller.

The villa everyone stays in takes a backburner to the storyline, and I would have liked to feel ambiance with the setting. Make it creepy, foreboding, or gothic, as the blurb promises. Have it do anything with the storyline other than being an idyllic house that people have rented. The title is because of this house, so the house needs a presence.

I liked the alternating timelines, and that there were articles and excerpts to help further the storyline. If you can get over the promise of a thriller, then you can really enjoy the book. I think readers will like this one.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s for sending along an ARC.


Read this review on Goodreads and Bookbub.

One thought on “The Villa, Rachel Hawkins

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