Hello, book lovers! 💕
The following is from Goodreads:
Oliver Marks has just served ten years in jail – for a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he’s released, he’s greeted by the man who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened a decade ago.
As one of seven young actors studying Shakespeare at an elite arts college, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingenue, extra. But when the casting changes, and the secondary characters usurp the stars, the plays spill dangerously over into life, and one of them is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.
I’m not sure what I was expecting when I first heard about this book. I think I picked it up solely on the fact that the cover gave me Halloween vibes. Which it definitely does. And upon reading the synopsis, I only got that it was a murder mystery that switched from past to present in order to figure out who the killer was. And that’s what hooked me. I didn’t even take into account how much Shakespeare would be in this book.
To say I probably wouldn’t have picked it up if it weren’t for the other aspects (mystery being the main one, but also that cover) would be an understatement. But that is my own fault because it says in the synopsis that the characters study at an elite arts college; they study Shakespeare. They’re actors; of course they’re going to be preforming his plays pretty religiously.
I listened to the audiobook for this book, and I feel like that helped with the fact that the characters excessively quote Shakespeare throughout the story. And I might be in the minority, but I was never really a big fan of Shakespeare when I read it in high school. That also made the references to different plays go right over my head.
Anyway, I ended up really enjoying the characters and the different dynamics they all brought to the group. I also really liked the setting of the book. I was living for the dark academia vibes since this mainly took place at a university.
I really appreciated the structure of the book. I liked how each act started in present day with the main character, Oliver, tells a retired detective about what really happened 10 years before then switched to the past to show the events that lead up to the murder. It made the mystery all the more interesting and intriguing; I think I kept reading because of that. I was gripped into the story because I wanted to know what really happened. At that point, it didn’t matter that there was so much Shakespeare in the story.
I honestly think that’s what saved this book for me; if it weren’t for the gripping mystery of the story, I don’t think I would have finished it. I also don’t think I would have given it a four-star rating either. Before writing this review, I considered lowering it to a three-star. But then I remembered the events that lead up to the ending of the story, and I was able to justify giving this a four-star.
I hope all of this made sense. Even though I finished this book a few weeks ago at this point, I’m still trying to understand my thoughts on the book. I liked it, and while the Shakespeare aspect of the book wasn’t my favorite, I really liked the mystery, setting, and writing of the book. I’m glad I read it, but at the same time, if I hadn’t, I don’t think I would have minded too much.
I’d recommend this book if you enjoy mystery books, or if you enjoy Shakespeare. Even if you don’t like Shakespeare, you might enjoy it. But if that’s really not something you’re interested in, you might want to pass on this one.
So there you have it. Those are my thoughts on If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio. Have you read this book? What were your thoughts on it? I’d love to discuss it in the comments below!
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