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The Villa

"Houses remember"

The Villa by Rachel Hawkins

Chess and Emily are childhood friends and authors who take a girl's trip to Orvieto, Italy, and stay at Villa, which was the scene of a brutal murder decades before. In 1974, a famous musician rented the Villa and invited friends to come and visit. But, before that summer was over, one of them was murdered. However, the two women who stayed there went on to creative success. One writes the greatest horror book of all time, and the other, a platinum album.

Emily, a writer, suffering from writer's block, begins to look into the murders, causing increasing tension between her and Chess. Dangerous secrets from the past and present come together, and it appears the Villa might claim another victim before this summer ends.

"Houses remember," the opening line draws you into this slow-burn mystery/thriller. Inspired by the events that led to the classic novel Frankenstein, the Manson murders, and the band Fleetwood Mac this was atmospheric with gothic and rock and roll vibes. Told in multiple POVs and timelines, the past and present eerily mirror each other's toxic friendships, secrets, rivalry, and betrayals. The intriguing plot unfolds using a book within the book, song lyrics, podcasts other mixed media to tell the story. The Villa came alive on the strength of Hawkins's skillful writing, which had me rapidly turning the pages to discover what would happen to these pretty dysfunctional characters. And being a Frankenstein fan, the Mary Shelley-inspired character, Mari, was fun for me to read!

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to review this ARC.

Pub Day is January 3, 2023

My steep was Mary Shelley tea from Adagio Teas. A chocolate-orange flavored black tea blend.

SYNOPSIS: From New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins comes a deliciously wicked gothic suspense, set at an Italian villa with a dark history, for fans of Lucy Foley and Ruth Ware.

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.

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