Exquisite by Sarah Stovell is dark, obsessive fiction. What I most enjoyed about this book was the realistic current that flowed throughout. The story unveiled by our main characters, Bo Luxton and Alice Dark, was entirely believable. I think that might be the element that made Exquisite the most chilling. We learn about the lives of these two women and how their path’s cross. I am a fan of books with more than one narrator so this one was in my wheelhouse on that account. I also love unreliable narrators and this one had that in spades. You’ll have to figure out for yourself which one it is who is unreliable though, I’m not telling. There were, however, just as many elements that didn’t work for me as there were those that did. This one has a slow build-up and while I felt the pacing was on track for the story, in its entirety things just seemed to move slowly. I kept waiting for that moment for things to turn, for the unexpected to happen and it never arrived. I did find parts of the story surprising but nothing that got my heart rate up. I think this was a great read if you are looking for a character study with narcissism and obsession, but not if you are wanting a thriller. It read as more of a slow-paced mystery for me. I was able to correctly determine who the unreliable narrator was and even though this didn’t take away from the story line I was more curious to know WHY the events happened at all, as opposed to wondering WHAT happened. Exquisite sits somewhere in the middle ground for me. I enjoyed learning about the layers of the characters and I went into this one blind as I do almost all my reads so that I don’t have certain expectations, and I think that helped.
I read this as part of the Black Heart Reads book club. It is run by some of my favorite bookstagram accounts on Instagram, check it out if you aren’t reading along yet.
If you love slow-placed mysteries with obsessive and unreliable narrators do not miss this one.
I give Exquisite 3 realistically chilling stars out of 5.