Review - All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth
All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth
Charlie Calloway has a life most people would kill for. A tight knit family. A loyal set of friends. A fast-track to whichever college she chooses.
But Charlie isn't interested in what most people want.
She's a Calloway. She's special. And she's been taught to want more.
So when she's invited to join an exclusive secret society, her determination to get in is matched only by her conviction that she belongs there.
But behind their mysterious facade is a history of lies which unravels everything Charlie thought she knew... including the story behind her mother's disappearance ten years ago.
All These Beautiful Strangers is an utterly entrancing mystery thriller. I had no idea what to expect from it when I started reading, and honestly expected the privileged boarding school life of Charlie to grate on me, but it didn't at all. Yes, Charlie Calloway comes from money and therefore has opportunities in life that are denied to most people, but that doesn't make her life any easier, and it really provides an interesting backdrop to the mysteries of the novel, particularly around the disappearance of her mother, Grace.
I loved the shifting point of view characters and time frames that the novel uses to spin out this mystery. The story flits between three periods, the present day setting of 2017, Grace's disappearance in 2007 and around 1996-97, and between Charlie and both of her parents. As Charlie delves deeper into her mother's disappearance, we slowly see what happened on that night and some of the events leading up to it. This all works really well, building up the tension and anticipation.
The other main story arc is Charlie trying to get into a secret society within her boarding school, having to complete a series of difficult tasks to gain admittance. The focus here is, crucially, not on the tasks themselves which lack tension somewhat, but on the consequences of failing to complete them, and most cleverly on the consequences of success. The Alphas feel really creepy and unpleasant, and it's there that we see a lot of the negative elements of kids with too much money and entitlement.
All These Beautiful Strangers is an excellent new novel about lies and loyalties.What would you do to stay loyal to your friends and peers? How much would you tolerate, what lies would you tell before you finally said enough? Is your morality stronger than your loyalty? These are the questions asked and answered in this thrilling novel.
I'm giving All These Beautiful Strangers four and a half moons.
All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth is published on 19 July 2018, by Penguin Random House.
I was sent a proof copy in return for an honest review.