Today, it’s my stop on the blog tour for If We Were Villains and I’m excited to share my review with you…is this book on your reading list, if not, add it, now! It releases tomorrow!
From the back cover:
Oliver Marks has just served ten years for the murder of one of his closest friends – a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he’s released, he’s greeted by the detective who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened a decade before.
As a young actor studying Shakespeare at an elite arts conservatory, Oliver noticed that his talented classmates seem to play the same roles onstage and off – villain, hero, tyrant, temptress – though Oliver felt doomed to always be a secondary character in someone else’s story. But when the teachers change up the casting, a good-natured rivalry turns ugly, and the plays spill dangerously over into life.
When tragedy strikes, one of the seven friends is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless. . .
Before I get into the plot itself, I just want to say, I love when an author thinks about the presentation of their novel – this book has a strong Shakespearean theme and the characters attend a performing arts college so I loved that instead of breaking this story up into ‘parts’, it was broken up into Act I, Act II and so on. And there were no chapters, it was Scene 1, Scene 2 and so on. This really allowed me, as the reader, to invest in the novel because I could see from the opening that Rio put a lot of thought into it.
Now, don’t be put off if you’re not a fan of Shakespeare, this theme is masterfully done, incorporating a little script into the novel but in a very relevant way. I can picture performing art students always throwing lines from their script into their every day speech and this device further added to the realism of the plot. It’s not over used and you need no knowledge of the arts to enjoy it.
At the start of each Act is a prologue where Oliver is talking in the present day to Detective Colborne, then the scenes begin and the clock has gone back 10 years. This is one of those novels that once you start reading and you see the dynamic of the friendships, you know what’s coming but you just don’t know exactly how it will be delivered and that’s what compels you to read on. The plot isn’t fast-paced but it’s a quick read because it’s so interesting, the plot is layered and rich in detail.
With a full cast of characters, there’s characters to like and dislike (Oliver = like), I loved the twist in this one, I was expecting ‘the reveal’ regarding whether Oliver did or did not commit the murder but Rio also adding in another ‘reveal’ that I thought was wonderfully done and just made the entire novel make even more sense.
Only once did events annoy me but I cannot say why without majorly spoiling it but it’s what stopped me awarding the book the full five stars, while it’s only a little thing and likely won’t even stand out to others, it just bugged me because everything about this book is so masterfully done, I just couldn’t understand the actions one character did at one particular time.
Overall, I loved the setting, the school atmosphere, the friendships and the mystery itself. If We Were Villains is a literary thriller that I highly recommend.
*My thanks to Titan Books for providing me with a copy of this book*
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