Opening line: “Lila sits at one end of a deserted picnic bench with a cup of coffee before her.”
In the 80s, a group of college friends decide to try living together commune-style in an abandoned cottage for a year, with no electricity, limited groceries, and no outside contact. Their leader, Simon, is charismatic, moody, and unstable—and Kat is utterly in love with him. Things are going pretty well at the cottage until Kat’s sister, Freya, discovers them and decides to join the group. Even though Freya insists she doesn’t care for Simon, when it’s discovered that Freya is pregnant with Simon’s child, it is all-out hostility between the sisters. Meanwhile, Simon becomes even more controlling.
In the present day, Lila is recovering from a miscarriage about which she remembers nothing except falling down the stairs. She is depressed and has a suspicious feeling that there’s something important she can’t remember. Her relationship with her husband, Tom, is shaky. One day, a letter informs her that she has inherited an old cottage in the countryside. Taking it as an opportunity to get away, Lila devotes herself to restoring the old cottage and discovers a few ugly secrets about its inhabitants thirty years ago.
Once again, I was so glad to have gotten this mystery, even though it’s something I never would have picked up. Hannah Richell keeps the plot tightly wound, with suspense everywhere. But she turns it up at the end with possibly one of the best plot twists I have ever read. If you want a book that picks up momentum until your heart is racing and you don’t even know what just happened, this is it.
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