If We Were Villains

By ML Rio

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Oliver has been in prison for ten years for the murder of one of his close friends from the arts college he attended and is about to be let out. The chief of police that arrested him visits shortly before his release. He is also being released of a sorts – he’s retiring from the police force – and he wants to finally know what happened ten years earlier. Oliver agrees to tell him, provided the truth goes no further and there are no repercussions. So we start to hear the story of what happened leading up to, and after the murder.

The group of friends are entering their fourth and final year of the intensive Shakespearean training at the college. Their lives and personalities are infused with Shakespeare, which is probably part of the problem. Everything is dramatic to them and this encourages things to spiral out of control more readily perhaps than those more steeped in reality.

The story starts a little slow, building up with the heightening emotions to the murder. What we learn then is shocking, but we still don’t know the full story. And so the build-up continues, and with it comes the want to keep reading to find out the “who”, the “why” and the other questions we have by that point. I figured out the who fairly early on, so that reveal wasn’t a big surprise to me, but there were other, equally important, questions I had so that didn’t detract too significantly from my enjoyment.

Due to the Shakespearean setting, expect a lot of Shakespeare throughout the story. Some may find this annoying, but I didn’t mind it. Perhaps because I used to love Shakespeare. If it bugs you, a lot of it can be skimmed.

I definitely recommend this book. It was a great read. It would have been a 4.5 star read for me if not for the non-reveal (for me) of the “who”. The somewhat clumsy open question of the ending also stopped it from being a higher rating for me.

This has been a hard review to write as I’ve been aware it would be too easy to accidentally spoil the story for someone who hasn’t read it. I think I might write a spoiler version too.

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