Friday, March 22, 2024

Book Review: The Last Resort

By Sara Steven

As soon as you first see the House in the Hills, an old hotel in a picturesque enclave of the Cypriot hills, you know it's the perfect home for you – with breath-taking views, a refreshing pool, and peace and quiet, away from the rest of the world. A place to recover and grow.

But paradise isn’t cheap, and as the debts mount, you could lose everything you've worked so hard for.

Until someone makes you an offer: to keep your home, you have to take a life.

But you could never do that… could you?

You’d die for a stay here. But would you kill for it? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

The Last Resort is equal parts creepy and psychological thriller. Told in various perspectives, and in varying timeframes, depending on the character, the reader gets a feel for the slow ooze of fear and trepidation that stems from Pure Heart, a spiritual community (commune) that is run by one of the primary characters, Quinn. We learn that an unfortunate suicide had happened at Pure Heart a decade ago, leaving behind Sofia, who was merely a child at the time. Fast forward to the present–Sofia comes back to Pure Heart to reconnect with those who had practically raised her and had at one time promised to protect her and keep her from harm when she was young, even though Sofia’s feelings on the matter aren’t in line with those sentiments.

At first, Sofia’s return is a fateful event for Quinn. But soon after, Quinn and the other inhabitants begin to see the truth behind Sofia’s return, beginning with an offer that sends every single person into moral ambiguity. The way the story is written reminded me of watching a thriller on tv or at the movie theater, where things appear to be simplistic, when it is anything but. The fear is tampered down by the sunny atmosphere and warmth of the Grecian backdrop. The dark secrets that linger beneath the surface are drowned out by the vast rolling hills and gardens, its fruits and vegetables laden with ripened fruit. Pure Heart is self-sufficient. A safe haven for individuals who needed a change of scenery. A secluded hideout for possible death and destruction.

I liked how quickly the pace picked up after life-altering decisions have been made. The turning point where there is no going back for Quinn and the rest of the crew. How they all fall in line, one after the other. From the get go, it had been decided that there was no way that anyone could take a life. But eventually, those lines become blurred into gray matter, with a pretty explosive ending that is chaotic and messy, just as I’d imagine a situation like that to be in real life. It was also interesting how the author chose to use certain distinguishing characteristics of communication from one character to the next. Quinn’s was the most unique and differing. And for good reason.

In the end, no one is without fault, and every single person is a blend of good and evil. The Last Resort really delved into human character and pushed the boundaries and limits of what is acceptable. Like the synopsis asked: Would you kill for it? That is the ultimate scary question, and kept me on my toes the entire time I read this book. A definite five-star experience!

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

T.J. Emerson lives in Scotland and writes psychological thrillers. Her short stories have been widely published in anthologies and literary magazines, and her feature writing has appeared in Stella magazine, Woman’s Own, and The Sydney Morning Herald. Her first psychological thriller for Boldwood, The Perfect Holiday, was published in April 2022 and was an Amazon bestseller.

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