The Villa by Rachel Hawkins

The Villa is not just one, but two incredible psychological thrillers rolled into separate stories, the first from the 1970’s and the second from present day. Both are filled with mystery, death, puzzles and revenge. And the main character is the house itself because in the end, the house always remembers…

In 1974 Villa Rosato in Italy was rented by a group of musicians. Mara and Lara are stepsisters who tag along because Lara is seeing the host, famous rock star Noel Gordon and Mara is seeing up and coming song-writer Pierce. Mara is in love with Pierce and Lara sort of falls in and out of love easily, including an affair with Pierce which Mara chooses to overlook. This complication along with sex, drugs and making music become the setting for an almost inevitable disaster.

And what happens during their time together at The Villa is just that, a tragedy with one of them being murdered and one of them imprisoned. But for Mara and Lara their time together at the house will push both of them into stardom. Mara with a bestselling novel called Lilith Rising and Lara with an album titled Aestas which still haunts those who listen to it to this day. But even until both their deaths, they refused to ever discuss what happened at the house that summer.

Flash forward to best friends Emily and Chess. They have been friends since childhood. Even though their lives took them in separate directions with Emily marrying and becoming a cozy mystery writer of a series and Chess becoming a famous lifestyle guru, they remained in each other’s lives. Emily is in the midst of a divorce as well as a year of horrible health issues and writer’s block when Chess suggests they go away for a month to Italy. Chess is also supposed to be writing a book. Emily agrees.

When they get to Villa Aestas, Emily realizes that this is the house where horrible things had happened years ago. They had changed the name when Lara became famous to Villa Aestas after her best-selling album which they believe she wrote after the killing. While browsing the library Emily discovers a copy of Mara’s famous novel, Lilith Rising. As she begins to read the story, she sees a resemblance as to what happened that summer years ago. Fascinated, she develops a theory and begins to explore the house for clues that her thinking might be correct. Emily’s obsession with finding out the truth leads her to decide to start a book about her findings.

Chess realizes what Emily is doing. Their relationship begins to fracture and by the end of their time at Villa Aestas there will be another death and their lives will suddenly change forever. You see, houses really do remember.

The Villa is a well-written, mesmerizing story with a built in who done it and a shell-shocking ending you will not see coming.

Thank You #NetGalley #St.Martin’sPress #TheVilla #RachelHawkins for the advanced copy.

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