Author: M.A. Bennett
Published: August 10, 2017
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars
Nine students. Three bloodsports. One deadly weekend.
It is the autumn term and Greer MacDonald is struggling to settle into the sixth form at the exclusive St. Aidan the Great boarding school, known to its privileged pupils as S.T.A.G.S. Just when she despairs of making friends Greer receives a mysterious invitation with three words embossed upon on it: huntin’ shootin’ fishin’. When Greer learns that the invitation is to spend the half term weekend at the country manor of Henry de Warlencourt, the most popular and wealthy boy at S.T.A.G.S., she is as surprised as she is flattered.
But when Greer joins the other chosen few at the ancient and sprawling Longcross Hall, she realises that Henry’s parents are not at home; the only adults present are a cohort of eerily compliant servants. The students are at the mercy of their capricious host, and, over the next three days, as the three bloodsports – hunting, shooting and fishing – become increasingly dark and twisted, Greer comes to the horrifying realisation that those being hunted are not wild game, but the very misfits Henry has brought with him from school…
I’m not sure what is going on with my summer reading! I don’t go searching out controversial fiction . . . in fact, I try to avoid it! But no, summer 2018, Kim unknowingly picks all the political fiction! How many times have I said that I don’t want politics, no matter how subtle, in my fiction. I just want to escape and immerse myself into another world and leave the problems of reality behind! If I wanted to be guilt tripped about my race or economic status, then I’d just turn on CNN!
S.T.A.G.S. started out great. I really liked it and I was whippin’ thru it fast! Sure, I rolled my eyes at some of the “woke” undertones, but I liked Greer, the protagonist, and was enjoying the story, so I kept going. Hey, authors are allowed to have opinions too! But then, I made the mistake of looking at the Acknowledgements, and it was all downhill from there. Someone who has to point out that she’s half Venetian, went to Oxford and the University of Venice, and got married on the Grand Canal, and then starts going after others for having privilege?? The hypocrisy makes all that condemnation, however subtle, ring very hollow. The sad thing is that I was really enjoying the story! I would have even finished it with mild annoyance with the pandering “diversity” talk . . . but the hypocrisy! It ruined it!
And I know, this review is based on my own opinions and political affiliation and my low threshold of annoyance. Someone else can read this book and think it’s awesome . . . I envy that person. But alas, I am not that mature nor patient. Hence, I must stay true to myself and I’ve given it 3 stars. May my next book be filled with innocent whimsy and light-heartedness!
P.S. She specialized in using Shakespeare’s plays as a historical source . . . My heart just died, and not in a good way!
Author: Michele Campbell
Published: Today, July 31, 2018
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: July 22-29, 2018
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
When twin sisters Rose and Bel Enright enroll in The Odell School, a prestigious New Hampshire boarding school, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. But the sisters could not be more different. The school brings out a rivalry between them that few ever knew existed. And the school itself has a dark underbelly: of privileged kids running unchecked and uninhibited; of rituals and traditions that are more sinister than they seem; of wealth and entitlement that can only lead to disaster.
For Sarah Donovan, wife of an ambitious teacher who is determined to rise through the ranks, Odell also seems like the best thing that could happen to their small family. But how well does she really know her husband? What lengths will he go to to achieve his goals? And when one dark night ends in murder, who is guilty, who knows the truth, and who has been in on it all along? SHE WAS THE QUIET ONE. Because murderers are almost never who you expect.
She was the Quiet One is Michele Campbell’s second novel. I hope to read her debut It’s Always the Husband. I enjoyed this novel and read it in a week, which is good for me: I tend to get books read in 10-14 days. The chapters were short and the mystery kept me reading wanting to know how the novel was going to end. From page one you know that one of the twin girls is dead due to murder; we just don’t know which one. This was the way to pull you in!
Boarding schools make for great settings: There is always a lack of supervision and the kids always seem to get away with so much and trouble is always lurking somewhere. There was one thing I could not get over throughout the novel: No locks on the bedroom doors at all?!?!? I found that highly unbelievable as that is just asking for trouble (which happens).
Bel and her sister Rose are fraternal twins and very different girls. I liked both of them, and they really are Yin and Yang: Total opposites but still care for each other as they are all they have left…. Until they get to Odell Academy. As I read I was wondering what was going to happen to break that seemingly unbreakable ‘twin bond’.
“I was constantly wondering which twin was going to be murdered; I kept going back and forth between Bel and Rose.” I really had no idea which one it was going to be, as both could have been described as ‘the quiet one’ in their own individual way.
There are many secrets held by many characters throughout the novel. You also see how cruel kids can be to each other.
The mystery of the killer’s identity was a predictable one for me. I was hoping for a twist surprise but it became obvious that was not the direction the novel was going to go. As it was predictable for me, the last act of the novel was anti-climactic. BUT then we have that epilogue…… It brings everything together and everything makes sense.
I enjoyed She was the Quiet One and look forward to reading more by Campbell. Special thanks to St Martin’s Press who sent me an arc copy along with a tote bag for It’s Always the Husband via a Goodreads giveaway.
She was the Quiet One is recommended.