by Rachel Hawkins
Publication Date January 3, 2023
Published by St. Martin's Publishing Group
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Genres: Fiction / Gothic, Fiction / Thrillers / Psychological, Fiction / Thrillers / Suspense
***I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.***
"Hawkins weaves an engrossing tale about betrayal, sisterhood, and the power of telling your own story. Captivating!" ––People
"Hawkins is the reigning queen of suspense." ––Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author
"The Villa teems with sexual tension, festering tempers, and questionable friendships." ––Sarah Penner, New York Times bestselling author
The bestselling author of The Wife Upstairs returns with a brilliant new gothic suspense set at an Italian villa with a dark history.
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.
The Villa by Rachel Hawkins is a dual-timeline mystery thriller set in Italy. I loved this suspenseful thriller that kept me up until I finished the book.
Emily and Chess have been best friends since they were kids. Now in their 30s, they have grown apart as they each have followed their own separate career paths. Chess calls Emily and suggests they spend a few weeks in a villa in Italy. Emily is at a point in her life where she needs a break and can’t resist such a generous offer.
Chess rents out Villa Aestas in Orvieto, a high-end holiday home. The Villa used to be known as Villa Rosato. In 1974, Villa Rosato was rented out by famous rock star, Noel Gorden. Noel invited up-and-coming musician, Pierce Sheldon, his girlfriend, Mari, and her stepsister, Lara to spend the summer at the villa. When the summer is over, Mari has written one of the best horror novels of the time, Lara has written a chart-topping album and Peirce is murdered.
Emily finds hints of the earlier murder in the Villa and searches for more clues. What she finds is shocking, but equally shocking events happen in the present that can change the direction of her friendship with Chess.
I just loved the setting of this book. A villa in Italy with a haunted history makes for a rich and mysterious setting for this thriller. I didn’t like any of the characters very much, but that’s expected in this type of book. I enjoyed the 1970s timeline the most as it has that sex drugs, and rock and roll theme, and there were more interesting characters. I was excited to see what would happen to these characters while staying at the opulent villa.
The modern-day timeline started a bit slow, but by the end of the book I was fully invested in these characters and loved the way they unraveled the mystery of the earlier timeline. Although, nothing is as it first appears, so hang on, the ending for both timelines is the best part of the book.
So, although the story drags a bit in the middle, the ending it totally worth it and made the slower parts worth the wait.
I highly recommend The Villa to anyone who enjoys contemporary thrillers. I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Have you read The Villa?
This setting sounds beautiful! Thanks for the heads up about the slower parts.
I’m glad you enjoyed this one, Wendy. Her last book was quite crazy, so I am glad this sounds a bit better although still gripping. Great review.
Great review! I really liked The Wife Upstairs but then saw a lot of bad reviews for Reckless Girls and didn’t read it. I’ll add this one to the list! I really love the cover too!
This sounds so good! I love that it’s set in Italy and has a 70s timeline. So glad you enjoyed it!
I like the setting for this one and am looking forward to reading it, especially after reading your review. Thank you for your great review!
I’ve been on the fence about this one but you convinced me I need to read it. I think I’m going to go with the audio though as I tend to have better luck with pace issues in that format.
This sounds absolutely brilliant and I am definitely adding it to my TBR.
Great review to start the year with!
This sounds amazing and the dual timeline murder mystery reminds me of books like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo will definitely add this to my TBR 😍
Fab review! I’m definitely looking forward to read this one.
Oh good! I hope you enjoy it.
Great review! Love that cover!
Thank you, Bonnie!
This sounds delightful and I’ve enjoyed this author previously. I will have to add this to my list!
I hope you enjoy it, Kimberly
This book is intriguing to me. I love the idea of the villa and what’s happens past and present. I am a little hesitant because of the pacing issues you mentioned. Great review!
It’s very good. And the ending is excellent. It does have mixed reviews.
The setting in this one does sound amazing!
Thank you, Lark!
A villa in Italy with a haunted history sounds like a wonderful setting.
It was! Thank you, Cathy!
Love the cover! Good review!
Thank you, Jolene!
I love the cover of this book! The setting and mysterious elements sound wonderful. I’m happy to hear that it was enjoyable and the slower parts made up for it. Great review Wendy!
I always find it hard to like characters in psychological thrillers. The setting sounds fantastic. Excellent review, Wendy!
Thank you, Yesha.
A villa in Italy does sound like a great location! Glad you enjoyed this one.
Thank you, Cindy
I enjoyed this one too! The audio was really good.
Oh, this would be good on audio!
This sounds like a book where the dual timeline is needed to tell the story properly. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Yes! And they do kind of collide at the end too which was cool
I think I’d enjoy this one if I could find time to read it. I seem to be scrambling this month
Too many books, too little time! I hope you enjoy it if you find the time for it.
I was contemplating reading this one Wendy but with mixed reviews I decided not to. I’m glad that you enjoyed it! Wonderful review.
I’ve seen wonderful reviews, and some not so wonderful reviews for this. I’m somewhere in the middle. I’m not much of a thriller reader anyway, I want to read about characters I like.
The setting and mystery both sound intriguing. Glad both timelines had great endings. Must look this up
Thank you, Mallika!
I enjoyed this one as well. Definitely agree with you on the characters. It was hard to like them.
Thank you, Kristi!
The setting is what makes this book sound so amazing to us. We also love the lemons on the cover.
Thank you! I loved the setting and the lemons too!
Okay, so normally, I stay away from thrillers. They typically freak me out and I get in my own head and then it’s just… no good haha. However, this sounds more murder mystery-ish, which is super appealing. I like the fact that it’s a dual timeline and that the current characters investigate the story of the previous characters. Very interesting way of laying out the book. I might have to pick it up!
I don’t read many thrillers either, Stephanie. And for the same reasons! But, this was pretty good.
Excellent review Wendy!🤗📚💜
Thank you, Susan!
I saw a review for this on Tessa’s blog yesterday. I never would have expected a story like this based on the cover, but I’d definitely read it. The Italy setting is just a bonus.
I didn’t know what to expect either, but the ending was great!
That setting was just perfect – opulent yet creepy. And the atmosphere just stole me away. Excellent review, Wendy!
Thank you, Tessa! The setting was just beautiful!
It is good to know that even with the slow parts it is still worth the wait, great review 😊
Thank you, Jenny. The ending was worth it!