Petrifying Page-Turners for the Spooky Season


Amelie Lee ’23

The Guest List by Lucy Foley (5 stars)
After two upper-class elites plan an elegant wedding on an abandoned island, their matrimony comes to a screeching halt when the lights cut out and someone is found dead. In “The Guest List,” Lucy Foley writes of the events leading up to the cryptic wedding death through the lens of several characters, tackling secrets, betrayal, and the poisonous effects of toxic masculinity with a meticulously crafted storyline.

“The Guest List” is by far my favorite murder mystery I read this year. While the cast of characters and complex storyline are incredibly elaborate, Foley strikes the perfect balance between character driven storytelling and intriguing clues, with every element of the mystery falling into place at the end. For anyone looking for a murder mystery that handles its three-dimensional characters and complicated storyline flawlessly, “The Guest List” is for you.

Truly Devious Series by Maureen Johnson (4 stars)
A trilogy by Maureen Johnson, the Truly Devious series follows high school senior Stevie Bell attending the world’s most prestigious and mysterious school— Ellington Academy. Stevie is obsessed with solving crimes and is dedicated to solving a series of murders from the 1930s connected to Ellington Academy, but her detective skills are quickly put to work when past and present day mystery collide.

Johnson creates an intricate storyline, grounded by a solid cast of relatable and lively characters. While some threads of the mystery were a little difficult to keep track of, the clues sprinkled in from Book 1 to Book 3 were undoubtedly planned out with immense detail and dedication. Although the books deal with murder and malice, the story never feels too frightening, as Johnson manages to maintain a tone of adventure and excitement through the levelheaded narration of her protagonist. All in all, the Truly Devious series combines high school drama and murder mystery for a thrilling October read.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (3.5 stars)
Suspected of shooting her husband five times in the face, Alicia Berenson hasn’t spoken since his death. “The Silent Patient” follows overconfident, self-absorbed psychiatrist Theo Faber as he tries to decode the secrets behind Alicia’s silent exterior.

While I was immediately turned off by the protagonist’s arrogance and attitude, Theo’s narration is key to the novel’s storyline. The confines of Theo’s perspective allow Michaelides to keep the reader on their toes with well crafted misdirection and unpredictable plot twists. Although many of the characters aren’t as fleshed out as I would have hoped, “The Silent Patient” still managed to surprise and entertain me.

The Chain by Adrian McKinty (3 stars)
What if your child was kidnapped, and in order to get them back, you needed to kidnap someone else’s child to continue the chain? The gripping plot of “The Chain” is every parent’s worst nightmare. Adrian McKinty writes from the perspective of a mother forced to grapple with this dilemma— ultimately, she’s willing to do anything to get her daughter back, even if that means putting another parent through the same pain.

While I was enthusiastic about the premise of the novel, McKinty’s execution fell a little flat. The first half of the book covering the mother’s thought process and actions was engaging, but as the book started to slip into a discussion of trauma while balancing an action-heavy ending, the novel became more unsettling than thrilling. The story falters out near the end, and while I still enjoyed the read, “The Chain” broke the link between my attention span and the story.

Image Credit: The Bibliofile

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