5 star, adult

Review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley


The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why? 

Truth be told, I think I would give this 4.75 Drink Me Potions if we had such a rating. There were just a couple of things that aren’t explained, and feel a little bit off. That being said though, why give it a 5 star instead of a 4.5 star rating? Because I think there really is something special about this book. Thrillers and mysteries tend to follow more similar formatting, or at least you generally know how they will play out. In this sense, they tend to be a bit predictable (even if the final twist(s) are unpredictable). It becomes hard for me to then give super high ratings, because would I ever read a thriller/mystery twice? What book would be that good? So the caveat on this rating: it’s kind of my own special rating for thrillers in particular.

The Guest List is a mystery thriller set on a private island in Ireland. The bride and groom are our typical “perfect” couples – Jules is an online magazine editor, and Will is a rising TV star. All too soon we realize that (of course) there is more than meets the eye, as all their special esteemed guests arrive onto the island for their wedding. Seems like everyone might have a reason for not wishing the happy new couple well – what will transpire when all these guests are gathered and effectively stuck on this island?

This book stars the classic multiple POVs – something I know many are not too fond of. I would say that it wasn’t too confusing, although of course, as it is with these kinds of perspectives, it is often slower starting as you get used to the characters. That being said though, the author does a great job of immediately pulling us in. We start right at the scene of the crime, and we slowly get flashbacks from the day before leading up to the climax. Normally this would be fairly confusing too, with all the time skipping – but all the events take place the day before the wedding and the day of the wedding, so it isn’t too hard to orient yourself.

The characters are all well developed and hashed out. Each of them has their good points and character strengths, and are all human by nature of their vices. Each character has enough suspicion and possibly motive for committing murder, so it becomes difficult to tell who might be responsible for the body found, and who might have the most motive for murdering someone. The author gracefully develops each character with just the right amount of suspicion, so that we as readers can believe any of the characters to be a murderer.

Because of the nature of everyone being stuck on the island, I also get those Murder on the Orient Express vibes too – maybe all these characters are working together? I just don’t know! In that sense, the murder mystery whodunnit part was not too predictable. Though if you were to ask me if I’m that surprised by the ending, I would say that it wasn’t completely out of left field – it still made sense. But I think the thriller part of this novel is more worth writing home about. It immediately pulls you into the tensest part of the climax, and it just never lets go. The whole book was such a thriller, there was basically no “down time”, all the events feels so packed together, so fast-paced, I had to put down the book a few times!

So, here it is. Why I gave this a 5 star rating despite the shortfalls. There was this one point at the end of book where it all comes together at the climax, and it is just perfectly executed. Best thing I have ever read. Okay, a little bit of an exaggeration, but trust me, I have never seen this done in all my thriller adventures, and I thought it was absolutely brilliant. You’ll know what I mean when you get there – I actually got so excited when I read it, and I thought it was such an amazing element to add to an already thrilling book. I was teetering on the fence of what I would rate this book until I reached that part, but decided that with it, it was special enough to give a thriller book a 5 star rating. Otherwise, I felt like I never would. Hopefully you guys aren’t disappointed with what I chose!

If you enjoy fast-paced thriller with good tension throughout, and plenty of suspects to draw from, then try this book out! The whodunnit aspect of the novel may not be the best thing ever written, and if you have a knack for prediction I doubt this will hit you out of left field. But despite this, I felt that the suspense that was masterfully crafted and woven together was still completely worth it. Besides, I don’t have the knack for great predictions unless I sit down purposely to contemplate it, and this book didn’t give me the chance! And I think that’s one of the marks of a good thriller.

I highly recommend trying this one! I had it held in the library because it seemed popular, but it truly blew my expectations away. I was expecting something average, but I think this book really delivered. With choosing random books, you never know what you’re going to get, so I definitely feel like I discovered a gold mine with this one. Go read for yourself and find out!

Overall Recommendations

The Guest List is a thriller mystery novel that takes place at the wedding of Jules, a chief editor, and Will, a rising TV star, on a private island off the coast of Ireland. With nary a way out of the island until after the wedding, all the guests are suddenly trapped together when a storm hits. A body is found outside – who could have done it? This novel features multiple POVs and all the events take place over a short time, so there’s very little confusion. If you enjoy fast-paced thrillers with a good murder mystery plot line, then this is the one for you!

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