REVIEW: THE PERFECT GUESTS, BY EMMA ROUS

 

1988. Beth Soames is fourteen years old when her aunt takes her to stay at Raven Hall, a rambling manor in the isolated East Anglian fens. The Averells, the family who lives there, are warm and welcoming, and Beth becomes fast friends with their daughter, Nina. At times, Beth even feels like she’s truly part of the family…until they ask her to help them with a harmless game—and nothing is ever the same.

2019. Sadie Langton is an actress struggling to make ends meet when she lands a well-paying gig to pretend to be a guest at a weekend party. She is sent a suitcase of clothing, a dossier outlining the role she is to play, and instructions. It’s strange, but she needs the money, and when she sees the stunning manor she’ll be staying at, she figures she’s got nothing to lose.

In person, Raven Hall is even grander than she’d imagined—even with damage from a fire decades before—but the walls seem to have eyes. As day turns to night, Sadie starts to feel that there’s something off about the glamorous guests who arrive, and as the party begins, it becomes chillingly apparent their unseen host is playing games with everyone…including her.

 

Alternating narrators take us through The Perfect Guests, from the eighties to the present, with one family and one rambling manor as the centerpiece for the tale.

In the beginning, we meet Beth in 1988, as she is brought to Raven Hall by her Aunt Caroline. She is to stay with the Averell family until her aunt can care for her. Another child, Nina, is the same age, and the two become friends.

As events transpire, we soon realize that a very strange game is unfolding.

Fast forward to 2019, we meet Sadie, Beth’s daughter, as she is invited to Raven Hall to play a part. As a wannabe actress, she is eager to discover what might happen next.

But neither Sadie nor Beth know about the intricate connections between the family members, and how or why they have all been forced into what appears to be a mysterious parlor game.

How are the characters connected to one another, and what deep dark secrets are at the root of the games they play?

Who is trying to keep the secrets at bay, and why?

I was intrigued by them all and kept puzzling things out until the very end. The book earned 4 stars.

***

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