Published by William Morrow on June 2, 2020
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
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FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
Lucy Foley’s The Guest List is an atmospheric thriller that centers on a high society wedding event gone wrong. The wedding in question is that of Jules and Will. Jules is a successful magazine publisher, while Will is an up and coming reality TV star. With an exotic location, designer gowns, and boutique whiskey, Will and Jules’ wedding is shaping up to be the stuff dreams are made of. That is, until it turns into a nightmare, complete with a dead body.
I was very intrigued by all the different points of view the author chose to use in this story. We get alternating chapters from Jules, the bride; Olivia, Jules’ sister and only bridesmaid; Hannah, the wife of Jules’ best friend; Johnno, the best man; and Aoife, the wedding planner. When I first started reading, I thought this was such an odd assortment of characters to choose and was eager to find out why in the world they had been selected. As the story started to come together, it became obvious why these characters had been selected and I was eager to learn more about them, particularly what each of them was hiding since it was clear they all had secrets they were holding close to their chests.
In addition to the seemingly random points of view that weren’t so random after all, the author also uses a very effective timeline to pull together all of the threads of this mystery. The Guest List begins the night of Jules and Will’s wedding. A fierce storm has blown in just after the ceremony and the guests are riding out the storm inside. The environment quickly turns chaotic as the power starts flickering on and off and then the guests start to hear screams. It’s clear that something has gone terribly wrong and the ushers decide it’s up to them to go out and investigate the source of the screams. The story then alternates between following the aftermath of discovering the dead body, and following the events that led up to the discovery of the body, with special attention to certain members of the wedding party and guests to see what, if any, role they played in the tragedy.
While I loved watching the different points of view and the two timelines come together, it was the atmospheric remote setting of The Guest List that really took this story to the next level for me. It’s set on a small island off the coast of Ireland. The island is practically deserted and is rumored to be haunted, and is composed of a landscape that is rocky, wild, and particularly dangerous if you stray from the designated paths. All I kept thinking as I was reading was “Who in their right mind would want to have a wedding in such a dangerous and creepy place?”
I don’t want to give away any details since this is a thriller, so I’m going to close now before I say too much. If you’re a fan of creepy atmospheric, slow burn thrillers reminiscent of Agatha Christie and Ruth Ware, you’re going to love The Guest List.