Emily is in a rut. She’s going through a divorce, has writers block, and honestly her life is nowhere near where she wants it to be. On the other hand, her best friend Chess is a Best Selling self-help author. When Chess suggests the two head to Italy for 6 weeks to reconnect and write – Emily jumps on the chance to get their friendship back to it’s glory days. The Villa the two stay at is picturesque, and quintessentially Italian. Intrigued by their lodgings, Emily decides to dive deeper into the Villa’s history. Turns out Villa Rosato is known as the murder house, after Pierce Sheldon was murdered during the 1970’s. As Emily explores the mystery of the murder further, she’s determined to uncover any secrets the survivors of the murder may have had. As she grapples with the Murder House’s secrets, Emily and Chess’s own secrets are starting to unravel.
I keep going back and forth on this story. Told in two distinct timelines (both present day with Emily and in the past through Mari’s POV) we get two very different stories and honestly, I liked Mari’s story better. But in addition to the two timelines, we also get snippets of interviews, magazine quotes, book excerpts etc. Maybe it was just the way my ARC copy was formatted but I found it hard to distinguish when we jumped over into these snippets and even listening to them confused me a bit. It gave me Daisy Jones and the Six vibes, but I didn’t think it added to the story in a meaningful way. I also didn’t feel that the two stories intertwined enough. Realistically, the only thing in common was the house, and these could have probably been separate stories.
Personally, I actually liked Mari’s story depicting the events of the 1970s better than I liked the present day story of Emily. But the ending of Mari’s story had strong Verity vibes and well…I didn’t like it as much.
While I enjoyed the setting ( I mean I’m craving an Italian Villa vaca) and wanted to love this story, it fell a bit flat for me. There was an attempt at the story falling more in into the horror/gothic genre, but never fully committed to it. The twist/ending also felt hurried and maybe a little random to me, and left a few plot holes.
Maybe this one was too much of a slow burn thriller for me, but the more I remember about the story, the less I remember enjoying it. I also find myself disliking Chess and Emily. Chess, for being a self-help guru she’s actually the worst friend, and she made me uncomfortable. Emily just seems pathetic with no growth.
If you enjoyed Reckless Girls than you will enjoy this. 3.5 stars rounded down to 3.
The Villa is out now! Huge thank you to St. Martin’s for my advanced copy and McMillian Audio for my audiobook, in exchange for my honest opinion. If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my instagram @speakingof.books.