Book Reviews

The Villa by Rachel Hawkins

I have been doing some damage on my NetGalley list. Big thanks to the 90lb Golden Retriever I’ve been pup sitting for the last few weeks… The lights in the house all turn off at the same time, so I can only read on my Kindle at night. I had the absolute joy of getting an advanced reader copy of The Villa by Rachel Hawkins.

Side note, if you don’t have a Kindle Paperwhite, I highly recommend it. It’s great for travel, stores a TON of books, and there is a dark mode or warmness adjustments.

The Story

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.

My Thoughts

I gave The Villa three stars on Goodreads. Not bad, but not great. When I read multiple books by the same author, I tend to compare them to each other. Thus, any Rachel Hawkins book must live up to Reckless Girls, which I loved.

I was drawn in by the villa in the Italian countryside and the fact that it was written by Rachel Hawkins. The Italy part lived up to expectations, but I think Ms. Hawkins fell a little bit short.

I felt that, for the first 75% or so of the book, the dual timeline storylines didn’t make sense together. They were united by the same location, but I wish the deeper connection had come out just a bit earlier. It did wrap up together nicely, but it still felt like I was just reading two stories for a while.

It was also hard for me to read a story about people who basically leave behind all of their responsibilities for a summer. It’s one of those things where I’m definitely jealous, but annoyed that I have to read it. I’m realizing that sense of opulence is a recurring theme in Hawkins’ books.

The Villa by Rachel Hawkins will be available wherever you buy books on January 3, 2023, but you can pre-order your copy now.

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