I’ll admit, when I started this book, I didn’t quite share the same convictions as some of its fans, but once I’d finished… well, I can assure you that had all changed. Let’s rewind a little, shall we?
Despite the intrigue of the opening, my confusion matched the narrator’s and I couldn’t figure out what on earth was going on. This meant that I took a lot of breaks in the beginning. I had to keep reading and rereading things to make sure I was following everything. There just seemed to be too many elements to hold onto and I wasn’t sure it was for me. I had trouble suspending my disbelief and just falling into the peculiar endless party of the story.
Now, I will admit, a part of the problem was that I had been told to go in blind… this didn’t work for me. I feel like I’d have been better off with a brief synopsis and knowing that it was a Groundhog Day style murder mystery (that’s all I’ll tell you, because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who would rather go in knowing as little as possible). At 20%, my befuddlement was so great that I simply had to read the blurb. It didn’t entirely clear things up, but at least I got a sense that it was building to something.
Still, I found the story oddly compelling (emphasis on the odd!) I was impressed by how many threads Turton wove in seemingly meaningless directions. I became entangled in the plots, looking for clues everywhere, trying to find my way out of this maze. There was the figure of Evelyn Hardcastle, darting half-seen from page to page. There were the houseguest’s secrets, spun into curious mysteries of their own. I felt like I was wading through an intense fog, until finally, around day 4 it began to clear and I finally started to grasp the narrative. Once I was halfway through, a spark was lit, and I couldn’t put it down.
Then, the twists came. Unexpected and bold and totally different. It transformed the story from the repetitious to the spectacular. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. My notes became filled with oohs and ahhs!! And my goodness- what a finale! It revealed a fascinating concept behind the story- which admittedly did raise some questions for me- so highlight for spoilers here… I will say that parts of the conclusion left me troubled- as much as I love a redemption arc, I don’t really see how Anna is completely off the hook, given a lot of the agency is with the narrator, and I think it would’ve made more sense for her to do more to save herself. That said, I do really, really like the idea of forgiveness setting you free. From the perspective of the narrator’s character, it’s the perfect arc. And ultimately, I’m a little too bedazzled to totally care about that aspect.
So, if you are like me, and a little bit baffled by this book to start with, stick with it, because the seemingly baffling beginning is redeemed by the ending.
Rating: 4½/5 bananas
Have you read this? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!