My Rating: 5 stars!
Cover Rating: 7/10 I really like this cover and the opulence meeting the image of a shotgun scope. It’s a fun cover that accurately portrays the essence of the story.
Publisher: Random House Children’s
Publish Date: January 30th, 2018
Number of Pages: 290 pages
Received: Netgalley provided an e-arc in exchange for an honest review
Nine students. Three bloodsports. One deadly weekend.
It is the autumn term and Greer MacDonald is struggling to settle into the sixth form at the exclusive St. Aidan the Great boarding school, known to its privileged pupils as S.T.A.G.S. Just when she despairs of making friends Greer receives a mysterious invitation with three words embossed upon on it: huntin’ shootin’ fishin’. When Greer learns that the invitation is to spend the half term weekend at the country manor of Henry de Warlencourt, the most popular and wealthy boy at S.T.A.G.S., she is as surprised as she is flattered.
But when Greer joins the other chosen few at the ancient and sprawling Longcross Hall, she realises that Henry’s parents are not at home; the only adults present are a cohort of eerily compliant servants. The students are at the mercy of their capricious host, and, over the next three days, as the three bloodsports – hunting, shooting and fishing – become increasingly dark and twisted, Greer comes to the horrifying realisation that those being hunted are not wild game, but the very misfits Henry has brought with him from school..
Opening Sentence: “I think I might be a murderer.”
S.T.A.G.S. is a book that unsettled me, disgusted me, made me all kinds of uncomfortable, and turned my stomach. I loved it.
What I loved:
The pacing. I rarely say anything about pacing in a novel, because for me it never seems to matter that much and I feel like it can be kind of trivial at times, but this book is so nicely paced. It has its action and it’s mystery mixing between a fast and steady pace seamlessly and for once that is something I can truly appreciate.
It grossed me out. There are parts of this story that really made me physically uncomfortable due its description and the fact that it accomplished that shows how well it was written. Thrillers like this are meant to make your skin crawl and S.T.A.G.S. accomplishes that quite well.
Cult vibes. There is a cult in this book although they would call themselves a “prestigious organization” or “keepers of the old ways”. The mystery of this group and even that they were truly an order of some kind was fascinating.
Greer might actually be insane. The group that invites her on this trip to hunt, shoot, and fish are all pretty insane, but this isn’t killers going after a girl who is normal and is shocked by it all. Nope. It’s the insane hunting the insane. Some of this girls thoughts made me take a step back and wonder who should I truly root for here?
Simply a story well told. This boarding school thriller fest has all the makings of a brilliant novel. It is unique, well thought out, with a mixture of dark humor to balance it out.
S.T.A.G.S. Is a book that will stick in my memory for a long time. It’s a twisted thriller that I highly recommend to anyone that wants to get into or already loves this chilling genre.
About the Author:
M. A. BENNETT is half-Venetian, and was born in Manchester, England, and raised in the Yorkshire Dales. She is a history graduate of Oxford University and the University of Venice, where she specialized in the study of Shakespeare’s plays as a historical source. After university she studied art and has since worked as an illustrator, actress and film reviewer. She also designed tour visuals for rock bands, including U2 and the Rolling Stones. She was married on the Grand Canal in Venice and lives in north London with her husband, son and daughter. Follow her at @MABennettAuthor on Twitter and at m.a.bennettauthor on Instagram.
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-Till next time!