Publication Date: 8/13/2019
Rating: 4 / 5
I received an uncorrected digital galley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Macmillan-Tor/Forge Books and Netgalley for the chance to read and review!
THE RETREAT by Sherri Smith follows four women attending a wellness retreat. They are meant to clear their minds, drink the psychoactive tea and emerge from the retreat completely renewed and refreshed.
Katie is a former child star, down on her luck after too much partying and a drunken text that alienated many of her remaining fans. She is invited to the retreat by her soon-to-be sister-in-law Ellie as a bonding experience. Unsure about spending time along with Ellie, Katie invites along a couple friends, Carmen and Ariel as a buffer. Each woman has her own difficulties in life and her own reasons for attending the retreat.
The book opens with a very strong hook, with one of the women attesting that the retreat did indeed transform her… into a killer. The prologue actually opens mid-murder, throwing the reader right into the middle of the action, though not entirely clear as to what is going on. From there, we are jumped back to three days prior as Ellie and Katie are preparing to leave home and head for the retreat.
Each character in this book is full of secrets, from the main four to the background characters. No one is really who they at first seem to be. The novel is written in third person, with sections alternating between the perspectives of Katie, Ellie, Carmen and Ariel. Over time, the characters reveal more about why they are here and what messes they left behind in the real world. None of these characters is exactly lovable, and they all make some very bad choices, but each is built to be very complex with good and bad qualities.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. I thought the author handled the different voices well. With narratives that bounce around from multiple perspectives, sometimes I feel drawn to some voices more than others, but here I thought it was kept very balanced and there was no confusion for me as to who the POV belonged to at any given time.
In terms of drawbacks, I felt that the pacing could have been tightened up at times. Friday is largely about getting to the retreat, meeting the characters and such, most of which is essential build up. We know from the beginning that they will drink the tea on Sunday and that the murder will happen on Sunday, but a lot of time is spent on Saturday that wasn’t critical to the plot.
I had mixed feelings on the ending. I think it was fairly easy to start predicting who the culprit was partway through, but the motives and what ultimately would happen remained a mystery. Some of the twists that Smith throws in were definitely surprises which I enjoyed. I felt like I wanted a little more resolution in terms of some of the characters’ backstories, but the main plot was wrapped up well.
If you are looking for a good suspense story, THE RETREAT is one you’ll want to check out when it is released on August 13, 2019! I will absolutely look to read more by Sherri Smith!