‘The Guest List’

The Guest List

Faliha Khan, Scoop Writer

Lucy Foley’s The Guest List is a riveting novel foreshadowing a gruesome murder during a wedding in a peculiar location. The guests’ stories are weaved together as their history and motives eventually unveil the identity of the assassin. Forced to remain stranded until they find the culprit, The Guest List uses each character’s story as a representation of various struggles faced in the real world, combining the suspense of a murder mystery and the personal stories to create a chilling yet profound piece of writing. 

This novel introduces an online magazine publisher named Julia Keegan and a celebrity host named William Slater who planned to have the perfect wedding in the perfect destination; a night everyone would reminisce about. Julia was always expected to be the responsible older sister that everyone looked up to. A single slip up from these expectations could mean catastrophe, which is exactly why the wedding had to be perfect. However, what was meant to be a romantic celebration on an exotic island off the coast of Ireland quickly turns into a thrilling and deadly web of mystery. 

The atmospheric adventure begins when Julia continuously receives letters from an unknown recipient, warning her not to marry her fiancé and that he’s not who he says he is. During their stay, guests and their shared pasts collide with one another, recollecting harmless memories, whilst unbeknownst to the danger they’d soon have to face. The lights go out, a body is found and the visitors are forced to question their closest loved ones. Between William’s boarding school friends, and Julia’s loved ones, hidden secrets are on the brink of being revealed.

 Throughout this story, there are certain characters that stand out more than others, namely Olivia Keegan. As Julia’s younger sister, she was often cast aside and forgotten. Due to mental health issues, she coped through unhealthy methods and her own secrets are revealed later throughout the novel, tied in with the identity of the victim and assassin. Another character who stood out was Johnno, Will’s best man. Although he seemed to fit in perfectly with the rest of Will’s impertinent friend group, he was often the only one teased and targeted by the group due to his weight. In order to fit in, he joined in on their relentless tormenting of the younger students at their former boarding school. The group’s conceited behavior carries on later in life, and is shown in the events leading up to the ceremony. However, Johnno’s character development reflected his hidden empathy and it was useful in identifying the correct suspect. 

After reading this novel, it fulfilled the high expectations I had in mind when I first picked it up. Not only did it successfully create an enigmatic mystery, but it also equally focused on each character, or “guest”, and perfectly captured their motives, perspectives and emotions throughout the story. Through this, readers are able to enjoy a mystery while also acknowledging the importance in recognizing the effects of important factors such as bullying and poor mental health.

Overall, the novel is more than worth the read. “The Guest List” is a chilling mystery that portrays important themes such as bullying.