- Author: Rachel Hawkins
- Genre: Mystery/Thriller
- Publication Date: January 4, 2022
- Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am offering my honest opinion voluntarily.
CONTENT WARNING: death of a parent, cancer, blood, gaslighting, drug use, death, murder
When Lux McAllister and her boyfriend, Nico, are hired to sail two women to a remote island in the South Pacific, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Stuck in a dead-end job in Hawaii, and longing to travel the world after a family tragedy, Lux is eager to climb on board The Susannah and set out on an adventure. She’s also quick to bond with their passengers, college best friends Brittany and Amma. The two women say they want to travel off the beaten path. But like Lux, they may have other reasons to be seeking an escape.
Shimmering on the horizon after days at sea, Meroe Island is every bit the paradise the foursome expects, despite a mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and even rumors of murder. But what they don’t expect is to discover another boat already anchored off Meroe’s sandy beaches. The owners of the Azure Sky, Jake and Eliza, are a true golden couple: gorgeous, laidback, and if their sleek catamaran and well-stocked bar are any indication, rich. Now a party of six, the new friends settle in to experience life on an exotic island, and the serenity of being completely off the grid. Lux hasn’t felt like she truly belonged anywhere in years, yet here on Meroe, with these fellow free spirits, she finally has a sense of peace.
But with the arrival of a skeevy stranger sailing alone in pursuit of a darker kind of good time, the balance of the group is disrupted. Soon, cracks begin to emerge: it seems that Brittany and Amma haven’t been completely honest with Lux about their pasts––and perhaps not even with each other. And though Jake and Eliza seem like the perfect pair, the rocky history of their relationship begins to resurface, and their reasons for sailing to Meroe might not be as innocent as they first appeared.
When it becomes clear that the group is even more cut off from civilization than they initially thought, it starts to feel like the island itself is closing in on them. And when one person goes missing, and another turns up dead, Lux begins to wonder if any of them are going to make it off the island alive.
As the days get chilly and the nights get chillier, I figured that it was the perfect time to start reading a book set on a hot, tropical island. And while I went into it expecting to like it, I found that I enjoyed it way more than I thought I was going to. This was the kind of book that I basically finished in a single sitting, since I couldn’t put it down and found it so easy to read.
I loved Lux’s character, and found her to be especially realistic. She’s in her early 20s, but facing some challenges that I found myself hoping she’d work out. And I was surprised to see how much I identified with her struggles — she was a caretaker for her dying mother, and the book talks about the sense of relief, grief, and that strange feeling of being adrift after her mother’s death. But all of this definitely sets Lux up for the situation she finds herself in on the island. And it also allows her to see who she really is:
“What am I when you strip everything else away? I’m a motherfucking survivor.”
Lux and her boyfriend Nico wind up taking two women to the remote and deserted Meroe Island, only to discover that someone is already there. Two someones in fact, but they wind up being friendly and having a great time as a group. Until a seventh person comes and crashes the party, completely changing the vibe. And this is where everything starts to fall apart.
Although this is a great example of a locked room mystery, it’s also the story of Lux’s journey of self-discovery. I loved seeing her come to some difficult and uncomfortable realizations as she grows into who she really is. A lot of the characters are morally gray, and I wasn’t quite sure who was truly behind what was going on until it all came out towards the end of the book. I loved how the story ended, and I’ve now got a new author to follow up on backlist books from. Because this one was done fabulously.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 6
Categories: Book Review