I received this book for free from Advance Reader Copy, NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

There Should Have Been Eight by Nalini SinghThere Should Have Been Eight by Nalini Singh
Published by berkley on November 21, 2023
Genres: Thriller
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: Advance Reader Copy, NetGalley

In this chilling thriller from New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh, a remote estate in New Zealand’s Southern Alps hosts a reunion no one will ever forget.

Seven friends.

One last weekend.

A mansion half in ruins.

No room for lies.

Someone is going to confess.

Because there should have been eight. . . .

They met when they were teenagers. Now they’re adults, and time has been kind to some and unkind to others—none more so than to Bea, the one they lost nine long years ago.

They’ve gathered to reminisce at Bea’s family’s estate, a once-glorious mansion straight out of a gothic novel. Best friends, old flames, secret enemies, and new lovers are all under one roof. But when the weather turns and they’re snowed in at the edge of eternity, there’s nowhere left to hide from their shared history.

As the walls close in, the pretense of normality gives way to long-buried grief, bitterness, and rage. Underneath it all, there’s the nagging feeling that Bea’s shocking death wasn’t what it was claimed to be. And before the weekend is through, the truth will be unleashed—no matter the cost. . . .

I never turn down a Nalini Singh novel, so even though it’s not a Romance, I dove right in. It was marketed to me as Glass Onion meets New Zealand Noir, so how could I resist? This is a Gothic Thriller/Locked Room Mystery and it caught me right up in the story.

Quick spoiler-free summary: Luna is the first person pov narrator, and she and 6 friends who haven’t seen each other in a while are meeting up in the alpine region of New Zealand in an old mansion that’s haunted by worse than ghosts: old memories. The title alludes to the fact that instead of 7 of them meeting up, they’re missing one. There should have been 8 of them, but Bea is gone. Luna’s main purpose for going on this trip is closure. She wants to confront Bea’s sister and find out what actually happened.

Luna is also fighting her own issues. She’s slowly going blind. She’s completely freaked out, and hasn’t told anyone. Yet this meet up is supposed to be her final chance to gain information on Bea and to either reconnect with this friend group…or to leave them behind. Almost immediately weird things start happening. Little things that don’t make sense. So while the characters are trying to brush off these little happenings, Luna is taking them much more seriously. But she can’t trust her eyes, so those shadows she’s seeing, are they a person just out of her sight? A killer hiding in the huge mansion? Or like in any true Gothic novel, a glimpse of a ghost?

I have to admit that I do feel the main character, Luna, was an unreliable narrator. A lot of what she did bothered me, but I feel like that’s the point. We’re supposed to feel uncomfortable in some scenes. Her fixation on Bea never sat well with me, and because I didn’t necessarily trust her pov, I had a hard time seeing Bea as the perfect angel she was painted. But with all of the little things growing and becoming big things, it’s hard to tell who’s friend and who’s foe? Shouldn’t you trust your best friends?

This Gothic mystery was intense and surprising. My one caveat: do not expect a romance. This is straight Gothic Thriller. And in true Nalini Singh fashion, be prepared to fall directly into the story, with even the first line being strong. She’s a master of the craft.

***Review copy provided by the publisher via Netgalley