The Retreat by Sarah Pearse – Book review

The Retreat is the second thriller to feature Sarah Pearse’s detective, Elin Warner. We first met her in The Sanatorium, where a relaxing break ended in murder. It’s a similar situation here – but this time Elin is officially the detective on the case, rather than a bystander who solves it.

Opening sentence: Thea’s scream rips through the clearing, startling the birds from the trees in a flurry of flapping wings.

Welcome to Reaper’s Rock

Cary Island is a small, remote island off the Devon coast that has a myth-ridden past and now houses a luxury retreat, LUMEN. A retreat that just so happens to have been designed by Elin’s architect boyfriend, Will and is managed by his sister, Farrah. So when a person is murdered on the island and Elin is asked to investigate, things are more than a little personal.

Among the cast of characters on the island are Jo and her family. Jo has organised a trip to the retreat for herself, her boyfriend Seth, her sisters Hana and Bea, Bea’s boyfriend Caleb and her cousin, Maya. They are a family with a lot of secrets and simmering tensions that come to a head…

Something wicked this way comes

The island’s history is a top-billed character here, from its infamous Reaper’s Rock coastline to its literal trail of blood, the idea of the island having a potential life of its own is woven so well into the story. I really enjoyed this element – it absolutely upped the creepy factor.

She’s picking up something scorched about the island, a strange stillness that seems unnatural somehow, malevolent.

With a focus on family and all the twisted dynamics that come into play, The Retreat is a great thriller that throws in enough reveals at the right moments to keep you hooked. There were a lot of coincidences and the cast of characters ended up being linked in more ways than one, but let yourself go along for the ride and you’ll have a good time!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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