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!