Review: S.T.A.G.S.

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S.T.A.G.S.

By: M.A. Bennett

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

star-3-5-2

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Page Count: 290

Synopsis: 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…

The First section of this review will be spoiler free

This was a different kind of read for me, I usually don’t go for thrillers, but I really enjoyed this one. I don’t know if it was the narration by Greer or the almost whimsically creepy aspects of the story, but it pulled me in. It was rather predictable, and because the book was so short we barely got time to really get to know many of the characters. I liked the way we found out what was happening right alongside Greer, there were some surprises along the way and the ending really bumped up my opinion of the book. Overall, it was a fun horror-thriller read, it didn’t have a lot of dark scenes in it, most of it was just lead up to the creepier aspects. I think the story could have benefitted from a dual perspective, or at least a better backstory for the main characters, just so that I cared about them a little bit more.

If you are new to the thriller genre, this is a good book for testing the waters, because as far as thrillers go it was pretty tame but still had enough of an edge that it gives you a taste of the genre. It definitely was as far into the thriller universe as I want to go, I can’t even think about horror movies without getting creeped out, so creepy books are not for me. The ending was left pretty open, I like that it was kind of up to us as the readers to theorize about how the story would go on. It was nice to have an ending that wasn’t all wrapped up in a neat little bow for a change.

***SPOILERS***

I mean the biggest “spoiler” is that Henry, the leader of the medievals (the popular kids at STAGS who turned out to be members of a serial murdering cult), dies in the end. He fails at killing Greer, and faced with his confession going viral he decided to commit suicide by jumping over a waterfall. At that point I was thinking man this was great but I feel kind of unsatisfied with this ending… then of course it is revealed at the very end, that the headmaster is the leader of this cult and that the killings will go on inevitably, leaving us with a “The end?” kind of feeling. I like that it played into the horror trope of having the bad guys effectively win in the end, it made the story more unpredictable in my opinion, and added a level of intrigue that was missing.

Have you read this book? what are your favourite triller reads?

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