Title: The Long Weekend
Author: Gilly Macmillan
Published: March 29th, 2022 (William Morrow & Co.)
Synopsis: Three couples. Two bodies. One secret.
Dark Fell Barn is a “perfectly isolated” retreat, or so says its website when Jayne books a reservation for her friends. A quiet place, far removed from the rest of the world, is exactly what they need.
The women arrive for a girls’ night ahead of their husbands. There’s ex-Army Jayne, hardened and serious, but also damaged. Ruth, the driven doctor and new mother who is battling demons of her own. Young Emily, just wed and insecure, the newest addition of this tight-knit band. Missing this year is Edie, who was the glue holding them together until her husband died suddenly.
But what they hoped would be a relaxing break soon turns to horror. Upon arrival at Dark Fell Barn, the women find a devastating note claiming one of their husbands will be murdered. There are no phones, no cell service to check on their men. Friendships fracture as the situation spins wildly out of control. Betrayal can come in many forms.
This group has kept each other’s secrets for far too long.
Thank you to the publisher, Harper Collins Canada, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Three couples plan a relaxing long weekend trip to an isolated, refurbished barn on a remote Northumbrian farm. When, for different reasons, the men, Toby, Paul and Mark are delayed, their wives arrive ahead of them for a girls’ night, and they feel this would be a good opprtunity for Emily, the latest addition to the group to get to know Jayne and Ruth a little better. But what should have been a restful trip almost immediately turns into a nightmare, as the three women arrive to a disturbing letter, supposedly from Edie, the fourth of their group not joining this trip, claiming that she is going to murder one of their husbands. While they initially think of it as a prank, something typical of Edie, they have their doubts, and with a big storm in the area and no cell service or internet to make sure everyone is ok, tensions begin to run high, leading them to take some drastic steps.
This was such a fun read! Despite knowing from the premise what the first twist is going to be, the way the story opens in a rather normal mood is what made it a shocking twist. And from that point on, it doesn’t really stop at all. With each chapter, twist and reveal, it drives the tension up higher and I had the best time trying to figure out what was going on and who was behind it all. The way the plot unfolds deliberately leads the reader to a lot of false assumptions as it becomes evident that these three couples who seem perfectly normal at first glance have a lot of secrets they’re hiding, even from each other. The setting of the story was as integral to building the tense mood as the plot itself, and the isolated barn and wild surroundings worked perfectly for the purpose. It would have been nice if the latter half of the book also took place in the isolated barn as it was a very atmospheric setting, and as the plot moved back to the city, I felt like it lost a little of that mood.
The Long Weekend is narrated through several POVs, from the three women and the farmer who owns the barn for the first half, and it adds more perspectives as the story progresses, including that of the mystery murderer. The characters were all intriguing, though I found the three women’s POVs to be much better, especially since their husbands are not really introduced until well past the midpoint of the story. As more and more unfolded about their characters and their past, each of them looked suspicious at one point or another, which made this an exciting read.
The biggest downside of this book, I found, was the style of narration. It jumped frequently from character to character with zero indication of whose POV it was. I don’t know if it’s because I read an eARC, but it didn’t even have chapter breaks, which are something I find very essential to my reading experience. That said however, once I was used to this style and could identify the characters’ voices better, it became easier to follow the story despite the jumps.
Overall, this was a thrilling read and quite an intense one at that. The mystery was woven in such a manner that it was truly impossible for me to figure out who was behind it until it was revealed. It’s a book you have to give your full attention to, what with all the unexpected twists, but it was well written and definitely one I would recommend to fans of the genre!
The Long Weekend releases on March 29th, 2022.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!