Book Review: The Devil’s Picture Book by Arabella Seymour

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Genre: Suspense, Drama

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Four women, friends from their school days, have grown apart with distance and time, until one of them puts in motion an ambitious plan for a reunion – at a country house health spa which – unknown to any of them – has a history of murder, intrigue and bad luck all it’s own.
There is Rhiannon, determined to find out who her real parents were; Alexa, desperate for time to herself away from her controlling husband; Alice, whose husband treats her with contempt; and tragic Sunny, whose promising new life has suddenly come crashing down in ruins when she discovers she has a terminal illness.
Across their path comes Andrea, the unhappy and neglected wife of ex SAS officer Roddy DeVille, tipped for New Year Honours glory, desperate to regain her fading beauty and his love along with it.
The women meet without realising that this reunion will change each of their lives in ways none of them could possibly have imagined.

Intriguing is the best word I can come up with for this book. It’s very intriguing. Almost from the first page I kept wanting to read more. It’s well written and a nice change of pace from the books I’ve mostly been reading now. It’s very intricate and complex with great characters, mostly. And I couldn’t have asked for a better ending.

So why the mediocre rating?

Simply because practically all of the men in this novel sucked. The only one who didn’t was Lexi’s old boyfriend. And while I know this wasn’t a romance or anything, there couldn’t have been at least one marriage that was happy? There are more ways to complicate a woman’s life than to be stuck in a miserable marriage.

Granted, Riannon’s main problem wasn’t her marriage. It was finding out who her parents were. But in the end, her husband, Stephen, turns out to be selfish and mean as well. He starts out nice, but it’s later revealed that he actually believes a girl was asking to be raped because of her clothing and has no problem betraying his wife to save his job. Yeah, so great.

Lexi’s and Alice’s husbands are both controlling, just in different ways. Their storylines are actually so similar that I had a hard time of telling them apart, which really irritated me. Because, again, crappy husbands aren’t the only way to make women unhappy. On top of that, Alice gets conned by a man, confirming her husband’s claim that she’s naive.

Furthermore, the conspiracy with Roddy DeVille feels more like an afterthought than the main story. While a good portion of the story does revolve around Roddy and Andrea, the book could have held its own just fine without them.

And, speaking of afterthoughts, Sunny was barely in the story, despite being one of the main characters. Which is too bad, because she could have had an interesting, if tragic story.

So because of all that, this story is only a three star. However, if you want a well-written suspenseful drama, then I definitely recommend The Devil’s Picture Book.