Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Review: There Should Have Been Eight by Nalini Singh

There Should Have Been Eight by Nalini Singh
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Thriller 
There Should Have Been Eight cover
ISBN: 9780593549766
Release Date: November 21, 2023
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Nalini Singh Reading Order

Seven friends.
One last weekend.
A mansion half in ruins.
No room for lies.
Someone is going to confess.
Because there should have been eight…

They met when they were teenagers. Now they’re adults, and time has been kind to some and unkind to others—none more so than to Bea, the one they lost nine long years ago.

They’ve gathered to reminisce at Bea’s family’s estate, a once-glorious mansion straight out of a gothic novel. Best friends, old flames, secret enemies, and new lovers are all under one roof. But when the weather turns and they’re snowed in at the edge of eternity, there’s nowhere left to hide from their shared history.

As the walls close in, the pretense of normality gives way to long-buried grief, bitterness, and rage. Underneath it all, there’s the nagging feeling that Bea’s shocking death wasn’t what it was claimed to be. And before the weekend is through, the truth will be unleashed—no matter the cost…

There Should Have Been Eight is a tense, claustrophobic thriller that is incredibly addictive. I have mixed feelings about the mystery, but I have to give Nalini Singh high marks for making this a real page-turner. Her writing is dark, evocative, and the mystery is compelling though your milage may vary on how you like the resolution.

Luna has had the same group of friends since she was a teenager, but now the group of eight is down to seven. Bea, bright, shining, beautiful Bea who Luna was obsessed with is long gone. At a get-together in a remote estate, things start to go wrong. And as they’re trapped, the past comes rearing back to life as secrets, betrayals, and a twisted web of deceit comes to life.

Luna is an interesting narrator. Her obsession with Bea remains strong, even years after her death. How she views her remaining friends – Darcie, Ash, Nix, Kaea, Aaron, Vansi – plus Aaron’s fiancée, Grace, isn’t quite objective. She’s a photographer, and though the lens gives her some distance she isn’t unbiased and her obsession with Bea makes her dig into old wounds. Luna is also losing her sight, and the impending loss of her vision has her questioning what she sees in the shadows, in some expressions. The questions she has around Bea’s death come raging back during this trip as the ghosts of the past are stirred up.

Luna isn’t the only one fixated on the past. Things start happening, pranks that escalate to true harm, as the storm that locks the group in at the estate rages on. Some of the group are blameless, some are not, but all are in harm’s way; no protection of innocents in this story. Singh starts off easy then ratchets up the tension until the climax. The revelations come fast at the end as the tale spins slightly out of control. For such a tightly written novel the way everything came together (key in a mystery) felt a bit off. The ending didn’t quite work for me, but that could be chalked up to reader preference.

There Should Have Been Eight drips with gothic mystery and Singh’s talent for writing an engaging thriller is on display. Not every bit of the story worked for me, but I found it wholly compelling nonetheless.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.