By Gilly MacMillan
Published March 2022
Ooh, a thriller! I usually love or hate them…how did this one fare?
Here’s the set-up: Four couples plan an annual weekend getaway. This year, only three couples book into the Dark Fell Barn, an isolated retreat in the north of England. Edie recently lost her husband and was not included in this year’s event. However, the night before the departure, all three husbands are tied up and can’t make it up until Saturday. So Ruth, Jayne, and Emily have a girls night on Friday night.
Waiting for them at their getaway is a gift and a note from Edie, informing them that one of their husband’s is dead. With no phone reception and a vicious storm holding them captive in the renovated barn, they must decide – is this a serious threat or another one of Edie’s pranks?
I can’t go into more detail without giving away any of the plot twists, so I’ll leave you there. I will say, though, that I didn’t love or hate this one – it fell somewhere in the middle for me. In fact, this novel reminded me of my French Lit essay exams – my knowledge rated an “A,” but my grammar was so atrocious that I would end up with a much lower grade.
Let me explain…
The story is fabulous. A bit tropey at the beginning (no cell service, horrible storm, isolated location) but still, a great set-up. None of the women know each other very well, which makes it difficult for them to confide in each other. They’re all dealing with their own issues and fears – PTSD, alcoholism, trust issues – that provide a basis for horrible miscommunication and judgment, and ensure they don’t work together. The hosts have their own tense subplot going on and Edie’s daughter and the antagonist are embroiled in another. Every plot line was riveting. Even with four people out of the picture, it took me a while to figure out who the antagonist was and I’d like to say I guessed, but I didn’t. I had to wait for the author to reveal them.
So, the plot was great. What I had an issue with was the structure and some of the execution.
The book is set up in three acts. I realize most are, but this was literally two really long chapters with a ton of scene breaks to switch the POV and one short chapter tying everything up. The scene breaks were fine, but I think the tension would have been raised, and the pacing would have felt quicker, if each scene was its own short chapter. But what bothered me more than the structure was how the POVs were presented. The antagonist was in first person, which was fine. The hosts each had their own scene for their POV in third person. Again, I appreciated that. The problem came in with the three women. I think the author may have been going for omni, but what I wound up with was head hopping. Lots and lots of head hopping, which I’m never a fan of.
I’d still recommend this book – it’s wonderfully tense and if head-hopping doesn’t bother you, you’ll probably enjoy it. At the very least, you’ll most likely feel much more in control of your life than any of these characters did by the end of the second act. It was quite an enjoyable trainwreck.
I rated this book 3 stars. ⭐⭐⭐
Until next time, thank you for visiting.
Want your own copy of The Long Weekend?