Published: 15th May 2017 (Orenda Books)
Bo Luxton has it all – a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name.
Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend.
When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops …
OR DOES IT?
Breathlessly pacey, taut and terrifying, Exquisite is a startlingly original and unbalancing psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page.
OMG where do I start with this Exquisite book (see what I did there!). When the cover was first revealed, I was intrigued and thought that this would be something special – that combination of the lone house on a black background and the hint of bronze just screams out to be picked up.
The blurb itself doesn’t give much away but certainly draws you in – and there is a reason it is brief because the story needs to unravel in its own time.
Exquisite is told from the alternating voices of Bo Luxton and Alice Dark as well as an unknown voice from Her Majesty’s Prison for Women. I thoroughly enjoy books from differing points of view and this really works in this plot as it provides not one but two unreliable narrators…just brilliant for this psychological thriller as really builds the tension as you just don’t know who to trust!
The prologue really sets the tone for the rest of the book, it is a relatively short but my goodness does it do it’s job, drawing you in and wanting to know more – why is this person in prison, who are they talking about and what has happened?!
Bo is a successful author who seemingly has it all, she has moved to the Lake District with her husband and two young daughters, providing the perfect balance of family life and a picturesque setting to write in. Alice, on the other hand, has become a bit of a drop out, getting involved with the wrong boy and quitting her job. But she does have a passion, what she really wants to do is write so attends a creative writing course- this is how these two very different women meet who go on to build up an instant and intense relationship.
Now that is all I am saying about the plot because the characters need to speak for themselves for you to truly appreciate the beauty that is Exquisite!
Sarah Stovell has written a tense and extremely clever thriller that keeps you on a knife-edge right through to the very end with its twists and turns, Stovell explores the lives of these two women and the intense relationship that they quickly form – showing how destructive this can be. The characters of Bo and Alice are fantastic and really brought this story to life.
This is an absolutely fantastic debut…..if this is the level of Stovell’s first novel, I cannot wait for more!
A massive 5 stars and one of my top 2017 books – highly recommended!