Book Reviews

Review: The Villa by Rachel Hawkins

I could not stop listening to The Villa. Told on multiple layers, this is a story about ambition, love, and (re)invention. And it was the last audio book where I actually just sat and finished it. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


As kids, Emily and Chess were inseparable. But by their 30s, their bond has been strained by the demands of their adult lives. So when Chess suggests a girls trip to Italy, Emily jumps at the chance to reconnect with her best friend.

Villa Aestas in Orvieto is a high-end holiday home now, but in 1974, it was known as Villa Rosato, and rented for the summer by a notorious rock star, Noel Gordon. In an attempt to reignite his creative spark, Noel invites up-and-coming musician, Pierce Sheldon to join him, as well as Pierce’s girlfriend, Mari, and her stepsister, Lara. But he also sets in motion a chain of events that leads to Mari writing one of the greatest horror novels of all time, Lara composing a platinum album––and ends in Pierce’s brutal murder.

As Emily digs into the villa’s complicated history, she begins to think there might be more to the story of that fateful summer in 1974. That perhaps Pierce’s murder wasn’t just a tale of sex, drugs, and rock & roll gone wrong, but that something more sinister might have occurred––and that there might be clues hidden in the now-iconic works that Mari and Lara left behind.

Yet the closer that Emily gets to the truth, the more tension she feels developing between her and Chess. As secrets from the past come to light, equally dangerous betrayals from the present also emerge––and it begins to look like the villa will claim another victim before the summer ends.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Listening to The Villa felt like watching a mystery unfold. At its heart, this is a story about ambition and sacrifice. What we will to grow, to bloom, even if it requires a cost. Hawkins balances the characters which are flawed, complex, and utterly relatable, and a suspenseful plot that will leave you guessing. There are threads of unhappiness of feeling like we are the side characters. And what would we do to take control of our lives again? With a mixed media format, there’s something to intrigue you on any level.

Whether you love the story of sisters who are close, but also in competition. Or a struggling author looking for her next story. And finally a woman who questions the monsters in the dark. The narration is unparalleled as Julia Whelan, Kimberly M. Wetherell & Shiromi Arserio portray not only the emotions, but also the feeling of a current pulling us in. Of being hooked into these character’s lives and the ways they seem refracted from our own.

(Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links. For more information you can look at the Policy page. If you’re uncomfortable with that, know you can look up the book on any of the sites below to avoid the link)

The Villa is a story about human desires, grief and loss, and love which destroys and exhilarates. If you love a book about the sour and the sweet, this is for you. The undercurrents of not knowing who to trust, what is artifice and what is art. It’s full of layers in complexity, suspense, and tension. The theft of people, ideas, and loves. I became deeply invested in the characters and the action, having to just lay on the couch and listen at the end. Characters who are drawn to envy and shine in the darkness. Find The Villa on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon, Indiebound,, The Book Depository,, and Google Play.


What is your favorite mystery with multiple stories?

Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.