If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

PUBLISHER: Titan Books/Flatiron Books
RATING: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

On the day Oliver Marks is released from jail, the man who put him there is waiting at the door. Detective Colborne wants to know the truth, and after ten years, Oliver is finally ready to tell it.

Ten years ago: Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, a place of keen ambition and fierce competition. In this secluded world of firelight and leather-bound books, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extra. But in their fourth and final year, the balance of power begins to shift, good-natured rivalries turn ugly, and on opening night real violence invades the students’ world of make believe. In the morning, the fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy, and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, each other, and themselves that they are innocent.

Continue reading “If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio”


The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Publisher: Penguin
Release Date: July 1993
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ .5

Plot: Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and for ever.

So I read a lot of YA. And when I say a lot, I mean almost exclusively.

It’s not really a thing that’s done on accident either; I get a lot out of YA. I find the stories and the characters are a lot more diverse. I genuinely think that YA is paving the way to progression in novels. You don’t believe how many general fiction books sound so similar to each other and yet get published. My time working in a bookshop meant casually reading the blurbs in the gen fiction section and rolling my eyes at the honestly tiresome tropes and stock characters.


And so when I picked up The Secret History I did expect certain things. First off, I wasn’t a fan of the characters. I know these characters aren’t supposed to be likeable, but there’s a line that crosses over into “I’m ready for them to die or at least stop talking.” – this was Richard all over. At points he’s either just a walking camera so that we can peer into the lives of other, more interesting characters, or he’s got an inner dialogue that makes me want to strangle him. I feel, without him, I would have given The Secret History 5 stars because I loved all of the other characters…even Bunny (I know).

I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed the style of writing too. I mean, I read the first page and thought “Well shit, this is A Level English Lit all over again,” but I was actually able to follow along and it really added to the ‘posh’ feeling you get from the characters who, let’s face it, are quite elitist. This is the stuff they would be reading and how they would be reading it. And it was gripping too, despite the lengthy prose and the insufferable protagonist, I was eager to make it to the end, to see what became of these characters who had found themselves in such an awful situation when it was often so easy for them to get out of stuff usually.

I don’t think I’m interested in reading Tartt’s other novels, but I’ll definitely be finding more literary style general fictions that have more interesting plots like The Secret History!

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