The USA Today bestselling author of The Au Pair returns with another delicious, twisty novel—about a grand estate with many secrets, an orphan caught in a web of lies, and a young woman playing a sinister game.
1988. Beth Soames is fourteen years old when her aunt takes her to stay at Raven Hall, a rambling manor in the isolated East Anglian fens. The Averells, the family who lives there, are warm and welcoming, and Beth becomes fast friends with their daughter, Nina. At times, Beth even feels like she's truly part of the family...until they ask her to help them with a harmless game—and nothing is ever the same.
2019. Sadie Langton is an actress struggling to make ends meet when she lands a well-paying gig to pretend to be a guest at a weekend party. She is sent a suitcase of clothing, a dossier outlining the role she is to play, and instructions. It's strange, but she needs the money, and when she sees the stunning manor she'll be staying at, she figures she’s got nothing to lose.
In person, Raven Hall is even grander than she'd imagined—even with damage from a fire decades before—but the walls seem to have eyes. As day turns to night, Sadie starts to feel that there’s something off about the glamorous guests who arrive, and as the party begins, it becomes chillingly apparent their unseen host is playing games with everyone...including her.
This neatly plotted if somewhat credulity-stretching psychological thriller from Rous (The Au Pair) opens in 1988 at Norfolk, England's Raven Hall, where 14-year-old Beth Soames is beginning a foster placement with Markus Meyer and Leonora Averell as companion for their curiously isolated daughter, Nina, also 14, who is homeschooled and forbidden to venture into the local village. Jump forward 31 years to London, where actor Sadie Langton is hired to play a guest at a glamorous murder mystery weekend being staged at a historic mansion. A subsequent flashback finds an unidentified young woman sneaking onto the Raven Hall grounds, seething over having what she regards as her birthright stolen. Rous skillfully juggles the trio of plotlines, maximizing suspense as to how they eventually collide. As seductive but secretly treacherous as Raven Hall itself, this novel delivers devour-in-a-day diversion, even if some revelations end up as contrived as the entertainment for which Sadie has been hired. Rous has upped her game with this one.