Book Review: The Retreat by Sherri Smith

The Retreat by Sherri Smith
My rating: 🌟🌟🌟 (3 stars)
Publisher: Forge

I love a good group vacation to a remote location, gone way wrong with bodies stacking up, so this had me from the summary. This also appealed to me because I have been in a book slump and thought a good psychological suspense story could shake me out of it. I didn't find it terribly suspenseful after meeting all our narrators but this still did the trick.

I very much liked Smith's turn of phrase & I truly laughed out loud as I read. Biting, wry wit goes a good way with me, so that was to the good. To the not so great, I figured out early on who was our in-house friend with murderous intent. That's not a deal-breaker for me but the journey to the reveal needs to be interesting enough for such an early telegraph and here, sadly, it wasn't. Also, I never quite cared about the characters (Katie, the ageing & aimless former childhood star; Ellie, the ultra perfect fiancee to Katie's brother, Carmen: the college friend always so financially strapped she routinely sells her eggs and Ariel, the college friend whose life back in her hometown has gone from disappointing to criminal). I didn't hate them or love them and didn't feel much for any of their plights (though I found Ariel's story, the most interesting of the four). They were given things that should have made me feel for them but something was missing for me and their non-self-inflicted problems were a bit too heavy-handed and coercive for sympathy, for this reader.

A couple of my favourite passages:

"Seriously, how can pancakes be gluten-free? It's like taking water out of clouds."

"She missed their little threesome. She missed college when they were still sky-high on their potential. ON their special-ness. When they had yet to open that first nesting doll of adult disappointment and failure."

I'd definitely read another by Smith and this is a good debut. And I'll forever be grateful for this breaking my slump. I am restored.

Summary: Four women.Four secrets.A weekend that will change them forever...if they survive.
Katie Manning was a beloved child star until her mid-teens when her manager attacked and permanently scarred her face, effectively ending her career and sending her on a path of all-too-familiar post-Hollywood self-destruction.
Now twenty-seven, Katie wants a better answer to those clickbait "Where Are They Now?" articles that float around online. An answer she hopes to find when her brother's too-good-to-be-true fiance invites her to a wellness retreat upstate. Together with Katie's two best friends--one struggling with crippling debt and family obligations, one running away from a failed job and relationship--Katie will try to find the inner peace promised at the tranquil retreat. But finding oneself just might drudge up more memories than Katie is prepared to deal with.
Each woman has come to the retreat for different reasons. Each has her secrets to hide. And at the end of this weekend, only one will be left standing.

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