We meet Margot as she is ending her freshman year at Rutledge College, a liberal arts school in South Carolina. She and her longtime best friend Eliza had planned to attend together but soon after they graduated from high school, Eliza died in a mysterious accident. Margot spent the year in deep grief. As everyone was planning their housing for the next year, Margot is surprised when she is approached by popular Lucy Sharpe to join her and friends Sloane and Nicole in their off-campus house starting in the summer. The house is next to a popular fraternity and Margot may have the chance she's always wanted to break out of her shell. Eliza was the outgoing and adventurous one in their relationship and Lucy becomes somewhat of a substitute for her departed friend. But Lucy may not be all that she seems. What is clear to all is that she is manipulative and has a dark side. But Margot is happy to have her as a friend. When Levi Butler shows up at the frat next door as a pledge, Margot is shocked. Levi had been dating Eliza and was the last one to see her alive. Margot tells her friends that she holds Levi responsible for Eliza's death. Early on in this mystery thriller, the story shifts to the present as Margot, Sloane and Nicole are being questioned by the police about the murder of Levi and the disappearance of Lucy, who only a few months before had asked her friends in a game of Truth or Dare, "If you knew you could get away with murder, would you do it?”
Stacy Willingham has delivered three provocative thrillers in a row, all releasing in January. In Only If You're Lucky, the author has entered the genre of dark academia and has done a good job with the setting. Both the off-campus house of the four friends and the fraternity next door set the perfect stage for this story of friendship, jealousy and the lengths people go to fit in. Since I enjoyed Willingham's first two books, I was happy to read her latest. This one is more of a slow burn than the others, but it was twisty and suspenseful enough to hold my interest. It's a satisfying read worth checking out, especially if you're drawn to chilling, college settings.
Many thanks to Minotaur Books / St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to read this book in advance of its publication.
Rated 3.75 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: January 16, 2024.
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