The Guest List is without a doubt my new favourite thriller. It’s about a destination wedding that ends in a murder and let me tell you, I did NOT see the ending coming. You probably guessed it, but I’ll be breaking down the characters, plot and writing for this review because every aspect of this book was perfect to me.
- Book: The Guest List
- Genre: Mystery, Thriller
- Page count: 330
- Published: February 20, 2020
The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body
On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.
But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.
And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?
First of all, I loved every single character. From the main ones to the minor ones, they were all written so well.
Jules aka the bride — She’s a successful career woman about to marry the man of her dreams, although she hasn’t known him for long. Jules has anger problems, which paint her as a possible suspect even before there is a victim. Nevertheless, I liked her as a character. She’s tough on the outside, but she has vulnerabilities and I enjoyed reading her POV.
Hannah aka the plus-one — Hannah and Jules have a rivalry because Hannah’s husband is Jules’ best friend. She forms an alliance with Jules half-sister Olivia who both feel out of place at the wedding. I loved all of the scenes with the two of them.
Johnno aka the best man — Johnno and Will have a lot of history. They went to school together and are united by some unspoken event that is alluded to. His character added so much mystery and suspense to the plot.
Aoife aka the wedding planner — Aoife and her husband Freddy make occasional appearances in the plot. Aoife loves organizing weddings because it lets her plan the perfect day, but she’s fearful of the guests causing chaos, so she stays on high alert. Watching her observe the guests and ponder her past was interesting.
Olivia aka the bridesmaid — Olivia and Jules aren’t the closest, but she’s Jules’ only bridesmaid. Olivia isn’t in the headspace to be at a wedding because she is dealing with some personal problems. Jules misunderstands her, so watching them become a bit closer was sweet.
The groomsmen — In high school, Will attends a boarding school where he and his friends delight in mischievous antics. Getting the gang back together stirs up trouble and reveals insight into the real Will.
Will aka the groom — Will is your typical pretty boy who gets everything he wants and won’t let anything get in his way either. He loves Jules and they seem to be a good match, but it’s clear that he has skeletons in his closet.
I’ll keep this short because I don’t want to spoil anything. The narrative structure was flawless. It combined short suspenseful chapters and longer ones that had me immersed in the story. The pacing kept me hooked and it was impossible to be sure who the killer was until the end. Kudos to anyone who figured it out because I was completely caught by surprise. However, I figured out one of the character’s secrets well in advance, which made it less shocking but still jaw-dropping.
The Guest List isn’t light-hearted. There are some sensitive topics that I don’t want to name because I think going into this book blind is best. But I’ve included some possible trigger/content warnings at the end of this post.
Lucy Foley’s writing is perfection. The remote island setting is brilliant and I love how the story begins with a power outage and the terrified screams of the guests. It set up a spooky atmosphere and immediately pulled me in. On top of that, I’m so impressed by how distinct her characters are. From Hannah to the groomsmen and Jules’ parents, she has so much range. Since there are several characters, the alternating POVs create so many cliffhangers. Lucy Foley steps on the gas and then pumps the breaks, leaving me on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what would happen next.
The Guest List is a murder mystery where everyone is a suspect for completely different reasons. The best part was seeing how these wildly different motives were connected at the end. I couldn’t have loved this book more. It gave me chills and honestly, the ending made my eyes well up with tears, but I cry easily, so I’m probably alone in that. I can’t wait to read more books by Lucy Foley and I highly recommend this book for thriller lovers.
*TW/CW: self-harm, blood, death, bullying