Friday, August 18, 2023

Book Review: The Beach House

By Sara Steven

It should have been the perfect weekend… Work colleagues Nicole, Margo, Paisley and Audrey all appear to be looking forward to a weekend away at Nicole’s luxurious beach house on the Dorset coast. It should be a chance for the women to kick back, relax and regroup after a stressful moment at work. But this is no normal girls’ getaway. And the beach house is no normal home. This place holds dark secrets for Nicole, which threaten to be revealed when its doors are opened. And unbeknownst to host Nicole, each of the three other guests all have secrets of their own…and some of them could be deadly. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

From the get-go, I could feel the suspenseful undertones to The Beach House. Each woman carries a secret with them when they all meet up for a weekend getaway, and as the story progresses, it’s told from each one’s perspective, chapter by chapter, with a few chapters sprinkled in that focus on an ill-fated party they’d all attended in the past. 

The present-time reflection vs. the past really helped to clarify so much, particularly when explaining the various secrets that have been kept hidden. And for good reason. Each one could damage not only the characters who hold them, but the others who are at the beach house. I could feel the uncomfortable vibes that can only come from being work colleagues who are sprung into such a unique, bizarre situation. I also think the author did a great job showcasing the various emotional vibes they’re all dealing with. Nicole seeks comfort from the beach house, yet for so many reasons, it’s hard for her to do. Margo has seen too much, while Paisley is struggling to work through an incident that was out of her control, with proof of those repercussions. Audrey seems to be in the wrong place at the right time, or maybe it’s the right place at the wrong time? There is in-depth character development that fits each person quite well. 

My only wish would be for better pacing within The Beach House. It seemed the suspense could be dragged out too slowly at times, when I really wanted it to be sped up a little more, particularly when many chapters would end with a precursor to what was to come. But the characters within it really made up for the slow pacing, because the reader can easily become invested in what is happening, and where the plot is headed. 

Ultimately, I had a pretty good idea about the twists that were ahead, but I still wanted to see what would happen next, and how the women would handle what was thrown at them. The Beach House was an enjoyable, suspenseful experience.   

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Nina Manning studied psychology and was a restaurant-owner and private chef (including to members of the royal family). She is the founder and co-host of Sniffing The Pages, a book review podcast. Her debut psychological thriller, The Daughter in Law, was a bestseller in the UK, US, Australia and Canada. She lives in Dorset.

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