If We Were Villains

If We Were Villains

Book - 2017
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Ten years ago: Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, a place of keen ambition and fierce competition. In this secluded world of firelight and leather-bound books, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, inǧnue, extra. But in their fourth and final year, the balance of power begins to shift, good-natured rivalries turn ugly, and on opening night real violence invades the students world of make believe. In the morning, the fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy, and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, each other, and themselves that they are innocent.
On the day Oliver Marks is released from jail, the man who put him there is waiting at the door. Detective Colborne wants to know the truth, and after ten years, Oliver is finally ready to tell it.
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Flatiron Books, 2017
Edition: First U.S. edition
ISBN: 9781250095282
Branch Call Number: FICTION RIO...M
Characteristics: 358 pages ; 25 cm


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VaughanPLRachelP Oct 05, 2017

I've read The Secret History too many times for me not to compare this book to that at every plot pointand character introduction. There are a lot of things that let it stand on its own, though - the central friendship between the main two characters that in any other book probably would have been sidelined in favour of the bigger characters that stand out a bit more. Shakespeare fans will be doubly thrilled as they look for hints of the twists to come. Compulsively readable, you'll be satisfied when you finish this one.

Jul 19, 2017

Intriguing look at the special kind of madness that can fester in a conservatory hothouse, when a group of drama students (who speak Shakespearean, all the time) implodes. Think Whiplash, only with actors, the eponymous "villains" à la King Lear.

Pluses: Rio captures the creative energy (positive and negative) of an arts conservatory, especially on the drama side of the house. The first half of the novel courses forward at a dizzying pace. It’s the Bard and his minions on steroids, and the atmosphere is deliciously gothic.

Negatives: Villains loses momentum about halfway through, perhaps due to the strategic (and rather tricky) sequencing of the narrative. Perhaps also because the quoting of Shakespeare gets a tad old, and the characters seem a little contrived—less credible, less compelling.

JCLGreggW Feb 27, 2017

The world of a close-knit group of college students studying Shakespeare is struck by a mysterious death of one of their own. The secrets and obsessions that bind the group together slowly unravel as the tension rises. The book is riveting and will please Shakespeare fans as well as those who love slow-burn literary thrillers like Tartt’s THE SECRET HISTORY.


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