The Last House Guest | Review
Rating - ⭐⭐
"The summer after a wealthy young summer guest dies under suspicious circumstances, her best friend lives under a cloud of grief and suspicion.
Littleport, Maine, has always felt like two separate towns: an ideal vacation enclave for the wealthy, whose summer homes line the coastline; and a simple harbor community for the year-round residents whose livelihoods rely on service to the visitors.
Typically, fierce friendships never develop between a local and a summer girl—but that’s just what happens with visitor Sadie Loman and Littleport resident Avery Greer. Each summer for almost a decade, the girls are inseparable—until Sadie is found dead. While the police rule the death a suicide, Avery can’t help but feel there are those in the community, including a local detective and Sadie’s brother, Parker, who blame her. Someone knows more than they’re saying, and Avery is intent on clearing her name, before the facts get twisted against her."
The Last House Guest is a mystery thriller novel by Megan Miranda.
This is only the second book by Megan Miranda that I have read, but I did enjoy The Girl from Widow Hills, so I was expecting to like this as well. Unfortunately...that didn't end up happening.
This just didn't work for me. For one, this book sadly reminded me that I generally don't link mystery books that follow non-detective characters. For two, the mystery, which is the core of the story, just wasn't that interesting and was told through the perspective of a character I couldn't trust.
Let's get into the details.
The font, at least the one my ebook was set to at least, wasn't very accessible. Thankfully I am able to change it so that it is easier to read for me.
I did get confused at times because each chapter didn't state what the date was. Instead, the book was divided into sections and you would read several chapters during one time period and then it would switch. The issue here is that I would forget what date it was and would confuse myself because I wasn't immediately sure what I was following.
This story failed to catch my interest initially and all the way through after that. We follow Avery whose life changes for the worse when her best friend Sadie's body is found at the bottom of a bluff. The issues start right away for me as we don't get any context for Avery and Sadie's friendship initially (and barely at all really).
Sadie is not a present character, and even in the past, her appearances are sporadic. Sure that makes sense as she did die right away before we could actually meet her, but I think we should have has at least some initial interaction between the two to establish their friendship. This is a problem because Avery considered Sadie to be her anchor, but her death and Avery's subsequent trauma ended up having zero impact on me because there was no foundation laid.
Moving on though, I didn't really like the way the story, and the mystery, unfolded. Partly because of Avery's unreliableness as a character, and partly because I began to piece things together before she did. Since I did just watch Sixth Sense and thought this quote was fitting in this situation, it became a 'you only see what you wanted to see' kind of situation. As such, the story relies on a lot of misdirection which I don't think I am a fan of when it comes to twists.
The mystery was very drawn out as well. Not in the sense that there was too much going on or too much empty space, seeing as this is an average length book, but because the mystery isn't revealed until the very end. When it finally got there, I wasn't satisfied with the reveal. Of course without going into spoilers, but I caught onto where the story was leaning into, and I didn't particularly like it. There were a lot of directions the story could have gone in, and what the author ended up landing on wasn't as good as some of the theories that were floating around in my head (to me at least).
Fairly early on in the book I started to get the sense that Avery was a bit unreliable, which was a huge red flag for me because I don't like unreliable characters. That, of course, ended up impacting my reading experience negatively since I couldn't trust her perspective. I was also very worried that she was going to be a typical alcoholic because of how often she got drunk, but thankfully she wasn't.
Aside from that, I don't have much else to say about the characters. I already talked about how the lack of development in terms of Avery and Sadie's friendship impacted my experience. As for the rest of the cast, I didn't really care about them, they were just there to serve their purpose and that's it.
Will I continue to make my way through Megan Miranda's works, yes? In fact, I have her newest book on hold right now. Hopefully, I have more success with that, because this was just not the mystery that it could have been.