Review: The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“Fifteen years ago, summer camper Emma Davis watched sleepily as her three cabin mates snuck out of their cabin in the dead of night. The last she–and anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the NYC art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings.. They catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of the very same Camp Nightingale–and when Francesca implores Emma to return to the camp as a painting counselor, Emma sees an opportunity to find closure and move on.

Yet, it is immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by surfacing memories, Emma is suddenly plagued by a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca, and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian apparently left behind about the camp’s twisted origins. And as history begins to repeat itself and three girls go missing again, Emma must face threats from both man and nature in order to uncover all the buried secrets–including what really happened all those years ago.”

REVIEW:

Riley Sager has become an instant read author for me, so I’ve been slowly working my way through his novels. The Last Time I Lied has an interesting premise and was a perfect summer thriller.

The Last Time I Lied follows Emma Davis. Her life was forever changed with one stay at summer camp when the rest of the girls in her cabin go missing. The camp never reopened and Emma has been secretly pouring her trauma out into her artwork for the last fifteen years. Camp Nightingale has reopened and Emma has been invited back to teach art. Now, Emma has a chance to gain closure and find out what really happened to the missing girls.

Riley Sager does an unreliable narrator incredibly well and Emma is definitely unreliable. This definitely ended up being the perfect summer thriller with its summertime setting. We jump back and forth in time, with chapters bouncing between present day and that fateful summer. We also have the Riley Sager staple of a mysterious attractive guy who is also the lead’s prime suspect for the murder.

I couldn’t put this book down since all I wanted to do was figure out what happened. Sager’s reveals are somewhat hit or miss for me, but this one really works. I didn’t really see either of the big reveals coming and I loved how they played out. I definitely recommend if you are looking to close out your summer with a great thriller or building up your TBR for the spooky months.

RATING: 4/5

Review: Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story—until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.”

REVIEW:

This was a great book for October. Like every Riley Sager book I’ve read, I stayed up way too late trying to finish because I’m trying to figure what was going on. At this point if an ouroboros shows up in your novel, I’m going to assume you are super creepy and up to bad stuff.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I always get caught up in Riley Sager’s novels. I want to figure out what is happening so bad that I just don’t end up putting the book down. That being said, I don’t think it’s the strongest of his novels. Jules is a very relatable heroine, she is a millennial, struggling to find her place in the world. I can definitely identify with her feelings of being lost in the world. This book falls into the gothic horror genre, but with a modern twist. I felt like the ultimate reveal was a little too outlandish for me. That being said, the climax of the book is incredibly cinematic.

So while I had my frustrations with this book, I still enjoyed it. It was a great read for October, with a relatable heroine. I still enjoyed Final Girls and Home Before Dark more though.

Review: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Synopsis (by Goodreads):

The Haunting of Hill House is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, the lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.”

REVIEW:

This is my first Shirley Jackson novel. I had been familiar with her work thanks to the recent slew of adaptations in Hollywood, but had never actually read any of her work. Haunted Houses are my favorite of the horror genre, so I figured this would be the perfect pick to kick off spooky season. I think this is a good beginner horror book. It’s definitely creepy and has the normal gothic horror element of is this all actually happening or is this just in the lead character’s head. It’s not outright terrifying or gory, which are both positives for me.

The Haunting of Hill House feels like textbook horror, in that it is the standard that most set out to achieve. There is a lot of ambiguity in this novel; the reader is left to determine whether these horrors are actually happening, is Eleanor a victim in all this, or is everything happening in her own mind? I think the ambiguity is what makes it such a strong horror novel, and truly makes it feel creepy. I definitely recommend this novel if you are looking for something to get in the Halloween spirit.

RATING: 8/10