Title: THE IT GIRL
Author: Ruth Ware
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia
Read: May 2022
Expected publication: 3 August 2022
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
April Coutts-Cliveden was the first
person Hannah Jones met at Oxford.
Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the second, April was dead.
Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide…including a murder.
It’s no secret that Ruth Ware is one of my favourite authors and I will devour anything she has written. In THE IT GIRL, she once again showcases the writing style she is famous for: the slow-burning, character driven mystery that keeps you guessing the whole time. Featuring her trademark slightly damaged / neurotic character, there is that delicious element of doubt whether they are being totally honest with you, which adds additional challenges to the armchair detective. My initial theory, as clever as I though it was, was ultimately proven wrong again!
Hannah is one of Ware’s trademark characters. Not completely likeable, slightly obsessive, neurotic, suspicious and hiding her own secrets, she was nevertheless relatable and quickly drew me into the story. There are few people who won’t be able to relate to an average, even a bit boring person being drawn into the limelight of a more glamorous friend and falling under their spell. Hannah Jones, an only child, bookish and as average as her surname (no slight intended), is instantly smitten by her vivacious roommate April Coutts-Clivenden as soon as they meet in their dorm room in Oxford. And here is one of Ware’s other skills that instantly draws me to her books: her ability to create a dark atmospheric setting, in this case Oxford College. Who can’t imagine sinister going-ons in those dark halls and narrow staircases? A place where creepy porters patrol the grounds, and a high wall keeps you out (or in) at night.
As in her previous novel THE LYING GAME, THE IT GIRL features a group of college friends whose dynamics drive the “THEN” part of the novel, recounting the events leading up to April’s murder. The “NOW” focuses on an adult Hannah, now married to April’s former boyfriend and living far from the scene of the crime, in Edinburgh. When Hannah hears that the man who had been convicted of April’s murder has died in prison, past memories resurface, even though she has tried so very hard to keep them buried.
THE IT GIRL is a must read for fans of dark academia or those who love mysteries based on friendship dynamics. It’s one of those rare books that features a clever twist that remains plausible and shows how cleverly plotted this book really was, and how all the clues led up to this point (and yet I totally missed them). It’s a delicious slow burn with an atmospheric setting that made for some great armchair travel. If you are a fan of Ware’s writing then you will most likely enjoy this one as well – I know I did!
Thank you to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster Australia for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.