Member Reviews

Short synopsis: Recently widowed Emily joins colleagues in a remote chalet in the French Alps. This chalet is a house with a history, and the old grandfather clock is the only thing to survive a fire a century before.

My thoughts: I loved the location of this, remote retreats are always so fun and atmospheric. When Emily’s friends started acting weird, and one goes missing it pulled me into the story.

Towards the middle I felt like it dragged a bit, but the end was quick moving and thrilling. I did guess some of the twists but it was fun to watch it unfold. I especially enjoyed the tie in to the history of the chalet and the occupants during the fire in the past.

This is my first by this author and I’m excited to read some of her past work.

Read if you love:
* Secluded locations
* “Locked Room” thrillers
* Work retreats
* Slow burn mysteries
* Atmospheric settings

Thank you to Berkley for the early copy of the e-book, and PRH audio for the ALC. Pub date is Feb 14, 2023 so watch for it!

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This was a cozy mystery taking place in the French Alps at the Chalet des Anglais where a group of Oxford professions and students come together for some sort of retreat. The setting was gorgeous but I got a bit lost in the beginning trying to figure out why this group of characters were being brought together. It was a very slow build up for me and wasn’t until around 50% that my attention was finally honed in on the excitement going on. This had a locked room mystery/who done it feel and the little twists that occurred were fun and entertaining. I found the mysterious clock at the center of the Chalet’s history very intriguing. Overall, I did enjoy it, just more so in the last half, hence my ½ star rating which is rounded up on GoodReads as I find that is only fair.

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Bright and Deadly Things is an atmospheric suspense novel about a widow attending a retreat with fellow university colleagues at an old chateau in the Alps. A series of crimes occur and one of the guests is killed, causing things spiral into a whodunnit, what happened, creepy psychological thriller. The language is incredibly descriptive so I could really picture the setting. And the twists and turns had me guessing and questioning everyone along the way, until the very end.

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Thank you @berkleypub for my free book. My thoughts are my own. #penguinrandomhousepartner

A group of Oxford professors and students receive a highly coveted invitation for a week-long retreat at the remote Chalet des Anglaise, in France.

When recently widowed Emily prepares to leave London, she encounters an intruder at her house, which leaves her feeling feeling uneasy. She later learns that her office at the university was also broken into. Could it be a coincidence?

As she arrives in France, she runs into Peter, a colleague from the same department as her late husband, Nick. Peter tells Emily that he and Nick had a terrible argument shortly before Nick died.

Other department members, Mike and Will, along with Will’s girlfriend, Jana, are also at the chalet. Emily learns that each man is hoping to win a prestigious award and also to be named as department chair. Emily believes that none of the other men are as advanced in their work as Nick was.

The grad students are also interesting, but Sofi is the most notable. Everyone is drawn to her. Later, Emily learns a troubling rumor about Sofi.

Soon several strange things start to happen to Emily: an intruder tries to enter her room, her room is later ransacked, her computer (actually Nick’s former computer) is ruined, and an attempt is made on her life! She suspects someone is after Nick’s work.

But when one of the group is murdered, tensions rise and Emily doesn’t trust ANYONE!

I really enjoyed this slow-burn thriller! I felt the slow build up was necessary, and intensity only built as the author did a fantastic job laying out the intricate jealousies and competitiveness that are often present in higher academia.

Most of the book is told from Emily’s perspective; however, this is interspersed with short chapters that give the viewpoints of other people present at this gathering. (The narration on the audiobook is great!) There is also a mysterious clock built into the story. It seems to chime at strange times and it had an interesting history.

This one kept me guessing
LATE into the night! I suspected every character at some point!   Read this if you enjoy intense slow burns, dark academia, and locked-room settings.

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Great characterization and atmosphere are highlights in Lexie Elliott’s latest novel, Bright and Deadly Things . Emily Rivers, a recently widowed Oxford don is one of the few invitees to a remote mountaintop retreat in the French Alps. The chalet has no electricity or running water, but does offer the opportunities to hike, read, work, and hopefully, heal. Among those attending are some friends as well as other fellows, graduates, and undergraduates.

However, things start inauspiciously for Emily. She misses her flight, and returns home to an intruder. Upon finally reaching the chalet, there are tensions among the guests and competition for a newly opened position leads to an antagonistic attitude between several of the attendees. When a student disappears, Emily knows she needs to determine who is telling the truth and who is lying.
The author does a great job of giving readers a sense of each character in the book. Their complex traits are shown to the reader through actions and words, not by telling. Several go through a transformation during the course of the storyline. Emily is a strong but vulnerable protagonist that readers can easily get behind.

The premise for this novel was good. However, the writing style resulted in uneven pacing for me with several slow spots. Despite this, the atmosphere and setting are almost alive. I could easily envision the chalet and the surrounding mountains, valleys, and walking trails.

The novel builds suspense in a way that pulls readers into the lives of the characters. The plot is intriguing and I wanted to know what was going to happen next, but the sense of urgency wasn’t at the level I expected. The plot has multiple suspects with realistic motives. Additionally, there are several twists and a few surprises along the way to keep readers engaged. I enjoyed the threads woven into the plot that gave clues of things to be unraveled, if a careful reader notices them. However, the ending is wrapped up a little too neatly and quickly. I felt the jump of a few months at the very end of the novel needed a few more details. Themes include disappearances, grief, competition for jobs, work and personal relationships, trust, greed, jealousy, and much more.

Overall, this novel was entertaining with characters that are emotionally rich. The descriptive narrative transported me to the French Alps. The chalet in this novel is real and the author’s note tells readers a little about it.

Berkley Publishing Group and Lexie Elliott provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own. Publication date is currently expected to be February 14, 2023. This review was originally posted at Mystery and Suspense Magazine.

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Emily, an Oxford fellow, thought a trip to a chalet in the French alps with her colleagues might help with her grief over the death of her husband but there's something evil waiting there. It all starts so well, even though she's concerned because someone broke into her house before she left. And then Sofia disappears. And then she's found murdered. The chalet becomes creepy (that clock!) the colleagues become even more competitive, and the mystery is heightened by a bit of the supernatural. Emily discovers her husband had secrets, that's she is stronger than she knew, and that she should trust her gut in this locked chalet mystery. She's a good character and one you will root for. Thanks to netgalley for the ARC. A good read.

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I read this novel during the height of winter when freezing temps blasted for days rendering me a happy camper in my reading chair. This, plus the atmospheric setting of the remote Chalet des Anglais truly enriched my reading experience. This was not a thriller “thriller”, but all the same, the slowburn semi-locked room mystery with a touch of supernatural element provided enough suspense to titillate the readers.

The chaletites were the perfect suspects for this whodunnit. These ambitious academic personalities reeked of intrigues, rivalries, scandals and illicit affairs. Plotwise, it was well-crafted but not twisty enough for me, as I’ve guessed quite a few. However, it’s the way the author wrote the novel that made me love it. Lexie Elliott is very insightful and her words mesmerized me just like how the creepy clock in the chalet hypnotized the characters. There’s just something enigmatic in the way she writes that I just cannot resist! And the paranormal part is open for interpretation. It’s just subtle enough that it can be construed as a coincidence or maybe a weird phenomenon. I also liked how she used grief in making our MC vulnerable and yet coming to the chalet made her break out of it as well.

All in all, Bright and Deadly Things is an enjoyable read, whether you are looking for a good academia mystery or just an atmospheric read. Thanks to @berkleypub and @netgalley for my ARC. I loved reading this!

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This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart

Review copy was received from NetGalley, Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Nothing like a remote location, work trip to be conducive to murder. I knew when Emily had people breaking into her house and office, that she should be more careful. Pretty quickly, it was clear someone was after her based on her husband's work and patents he could have. I even knew who it was going to be early in the story.

The problem was proof. It was easy to get distracted by all the odd happenings and then the death of the student. I felt Emily was a little stupid about her own safety, although who was really trustworthy? Emotions were running high in that space and people made some rash judgements. It was good to finally see her sit back and actually think through what she knew and not tell people or question them. But she had grief over her husband's death to cloud some thinking. Plus it's hard to believe bad things about people one has considered close friends and coworkers.

Events were exciting and a bit titillating, with too many dangerous attempts on lives. I wasn't sure who killed the student. It was thrilling to get to hear part of her diary and then scary when the diary went missing. I really enjoyed the ride here, being a bit scared and worried. The ending was satisfying with the truths coming out in the end.

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Note: Review links will be active Feb. 14, 2023

Mysteries are buried at the top of the world in “Bright and Deadly Things” (Berkley), an atmospherically eerie offering from Scottish author Lexie Elliott (“How to Kill Your Best Friend,” “The French Girl”).

Almost erudite in tone — crafted with purpose for this cast of characters — Elliott’s new novel brings us to the Gothic-esque setting of the Chalet des Anglais through the eyes of Dr. Emily Rivers, a recently widowed, non-medical Oxford don and one of the few scholars and students invited to the rural mountaintop for a university department retreat.

As Elliot advances the eldritch motif, the novel delves deeply into psychological suspense: a student, Sofi, is found dead — accident, murder? — and the clues are as elusive as the electricity, water and access of the rustic chalet.

Once the group is isolated, fraught and tenuous relationships between colleagues heighten Emily’s already heightened anxiety — before ascending the French Alps she missed her initial flight and returned home to find her house had been broken into — and when she learns that there was a connection between her “nerdy” scientist husband and Sofi, questions turn into enigmas and nothing is as it seems.

Trust evaporates, accusations whirl and allies change with the mountain winds as Emily comes to understand that she could easily share Sofi’s fate unless she can connect the past with the present. But commingled with her deep, personal loss — “What might I do at a time when Nick no longer lingers so close to me? Already he is drawing away, or I am drawing away from him? Is it being here that is causing that?” — those links stay stubbornly unchained as Emily’s sense of reality is tested by colleagues who behave in increasingly unusual ways.

Elliott grew up at the foot of the Highlands and earned a doctorate in theoretical physics from Oxford University and these experiences inform her story with a strong sense of place and person. “Bright and Deadly Things” may not be a perfect novel — uneven prose dulls the first half of the story — but it is a chilling, nuanced thriller that ably explores the heights and depths of grief, friendship and greed.

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I would classify this as more of a suspense mystery than a thriller. It was definitely a slow burn, but that was fine with me. I felt like the supernatural elements could have been played out a little more.

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Thank you to Netgalley, Berkley Publishing, and Lexie Elliott for an advance copy of Bright & Deadly Things in exchange for an honest review. Bright and Deadly things was an extremely atmospheric novel that featured a slow burn with the last 30% of the book flying by for me. I found myself immersed into the scenic French Alps while trying to figure out what happened to several of our characters. Certain parts of the story (like the clock) were really interesting touches to the novel and they helped me power through the story. This one is coming out on Valentines day so be sure to add it to your TBR!

3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 stars for GR!!

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This is the second I've read by the author and there are some really good twists in here I didn't see coming! This is a locked room mystery and there are some very good red herrings, you question the motives of all the characters, and good resolution for the ending!

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I received a gifted galley of BRIGHT AND DEADLY THINGS by Lexie Elliott for an honest review. Thank you to PRH Audio, Berkley Publishing Group, and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review!

BRIGHT AND DEADLY THINGS follows a group of academics at a the Chalet des Angalis in the French Alps. Emily has recently been widowed and just before leaving for this trip, her home was broken into. She is hoping to find peace on this retreat, but there is something off about things at the chalet. Initially Emily blames it on her grief and anxiety, but things begin to feel and go more and more wrong. Everyone seems to be off as more secrets and rivalries come to light.

I didn’t know what to expect going into this book, but I loved the author’s HOW TO KILL YOUR BEST FRIEND, so was excited to read it without even reading the synopsis. I had some mixed feelings on it when I finished. This is a very slow burn, much more of a mystery than the thriller I was expecting. I kept expecting the pace to pick up a bit as we got further into the story, but it didn’t really ever get there for me. There were certainly some moments of tension and intrigue though and I was interested in getting the answers to what was going on. I did struggle a bit with the cast of characters and feeling invested in keeping some of them apart in my mind.

There is a little bit of a supernatural element at play in this book as well, of the sort which keeps you guessing if there is or isn’t something really going on. While I think it was needed to get to some of the plot elements that the author was trying to get to, I wasn’t really sold on this part of the story and it left me with a few more questions that I wanted to have in the end.

Overall this is well written and the audio was really well done with multiple narrators helping to distinguish the cast via audio. The ending did bring me some twists I didn’t entirely expect as well.

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I received a digital advance reader’s copy of Bright and Deadly Things by Lexie Elliott via NetGalley. Bright and Deadly Things is scheduled for release on February 14, 2023.

Bright and Deadly Things follows recently-widowed Emily as she sets off on a French Alps retreat with university friends (of both her and her husband), graduates, and undergraduates. Once in the remote chalet, Emily feels that things are off with both the people around her and the very chalet itself. Someone is rummaging through her things, colleagues are jockeying for a recently opened position, and a student disappears. Underneath it all is the steady swinging of the pendulum of the ancient grandfather clock in the salon.

We follow this story through Emily’s perspective, which gives us a good sense of her grief, as well as her growing realization that it is time to move on in more ways than one. The relationships with those around her do give us some insight into Emily, but I also found moments where her choices around those relationships seemed out of place, or not supported by things that came before.

I did appreciate the remote setting, as we have a bit of a locked room mystery feel while the characters are moving about the chalet. The story does expand into a both a neighboring village and the wilds around the chalet, which were less clear to me as the story progressed.

Elliiott incorporated a variety of elements into this story. I think I would have liked this novel better with a tighter focus. We have some speculative elements here, as well as a section that becomes a survive the wilderness adventure, which pulled from the focus of the novel. This novel would have been a better mystery/thriller if it had centered more fully on the central mystery and who is responsible for the wrongs done to Emily and others.

Overall, Bright and Deadly Things is a mystery/thriller that incorporates both adventure and speculative elements. While I think it would have been a stronger novel without those additional elements, it was an enjoyable read.

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3.5 stars rounded up.

When recently-widowed Oxford fellow Emily is invited for a weeklong retreat at the isolated Chalet des Anglais with some of her fellow colleagues and undergrads, she thinks it might be just what she needs in her time of grief. However, strange things seem to be happening to and around her, and she has a feeling one of their group is out to get her.

BRIGHT AND DEADLY THINGS by Lexie Elliott is a slow burn, atmospheric thriller. This is my first read by Elliott and I can see what draws readers to her work.

I loved how each character came into their own personality and quirks, and I really enjoyed that remote, no electricity feel, however, it didn’t have the full isolation I was hoping to get out of this book and setting!

While I love a good slow burn, this one was almost too slow and drawn out for my taste, and also doesn’t lead to anything truly groundbreaking to warrant such a slow meander.

I will say if you love an atmospheric read concerning academics with a slightly supernatural twist, don’t hesitate to pick this one up!

Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Publication Date: February 14, 2023

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Bright and Deadly Things is the first book I’ve read from Lexie Elliott. For the most part, I really enjoyed this one. The setting is picturesque and lends itself well to the isolated feel of the setting. I also enjoyed the “One by One” vibes this one gives off- it’s my favorite kind of mystery. However, I think the book was a little too long for my taste. Some of the plot got bogged down by unnecessary detail and it detracted from my reading experience. Some people will enjoy a book like this but my personal taste is more of a “get to the point” style without all the fluff.

If you’re a fan of the authors previous novels, then I recommend this one. I do plan to go back and read more from her as her books have some great plots that intrigue me.

• Isolated Settings
• Mystery Books
• The authors previous novels


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A digital copy of this book was provided to me by NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group. The opinions are my own and freely given.

This is the story of a group of professors, graduate students and undergraduate students, getting together for week in a chalet in the French Alps, with no electric and no running water.

Sounds relaxing right? Wrong. Secrets, coverups, "accidents" a missing student. These all lead to paranoia, mistrust and anger.

I liked this book ok. I felt that the chapters were really long. There are diary entries interspersed throughout from the members of the group. I really didn't love the book, until the end. There were a lot of people in the group and a couple of them were barely touched on. Olive for one really only had a small part to play and I felt like I had forgotten about her through most of it.

But everything is answered in the end. I spent most of this book suspecting 2 people, but I got there in the end right before it was revealed.

Thank you NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group.

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A huge thank you to Berkley Publishing, MBC Books, and PRHAudio for providing me with access to this title!

Lexie Elliott, I am so excited to check out your other titles!

Full disclosure: the first thing that drew me to the book was the cover and its setting. I would kill to be in the French Alps right now enjoying raclette and wine!

So from that I was already hooked in! I primarily listened to this in its audiobook format and thought it was well done. I kept wanting to listen longer to find out about the mysterious happenings at the Chalet des Anglais.

Emily thinks this might be the right trip to help her cope with her grief and burn off the fog that’s been shrouding her since her husband’s passing. However, a break-in at her home right before her trip has her rattled. Things only get more complex and mysterious as she joins her colleagues and students on this retreat to the French Alps.

Read if you love work place tensions, secluded location, and creepy settings with stories from previous guests!

I can’t say much more about the book without giving away some key plot points. I will tell you the last part of the book flew for me! It was action packed and I put off my to do list to find out what happens.

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This one started out strong for me, you could almost immediately feel a sense of dread and unease and the author did a great job of creating a sense of place. I’m a sucker for a locked room style mystery and remote retreat in the French Alps seemed like the best combination of beautiful with a sinister edge that I enjoyed. My interest did start to diminish a little though as things progressed, maybe it was a little too much of a slow burn for me. But there were many clever aspects and despite figuring out the big reveal before it was actually revealed I did mostly enjoy it. Definitely recommend if you enjoy a slow burn and quieter style of suspense.

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A remote back-to-basics mountaintop retreat in the French Alps turns deadly as an Oxford fellow finds herself in the crosshairs of her late husband’s dangerous secrets. With a line like that, how can one not be intrigued?

Bright and Deadly Things is quite the departure from my normal reads and I couldn’t have been happier to check this book out. When we first meet up with Emily, she is recently widowed and is trying to find her way through her grief. Desperately needing time and space to heal, she finds herself at a retreat in the French Alps with a collection of friends from the university. Almost immediately, something feels off. A series of events fills her with anxiety and leaves her with a ton of burning questions. But, when a student disappears, Email realizes you must separate friend from foe and she might be next…

Overall, I thought this book was a really interesting read. I was intrigued from the moment I picked this book up and couldn’t wait to read more. I thought the plot was clever and enjoyed the odd characters. I thought the author did a great job weaving a web of mystery and suspense, keeping readers on their toes. My only issue with this story was the pacing. Pacing can be a bit of a double-edged sword for me personally. I don’t necessarily mind a slower pace, but the pacing in this story was a bit off for me, and I definitely found it to be a distraction.

All in all, Bright and Deadly Things is an interesting mystery that I couldn’t wait to uncover. Lexie Elliott is a new author to me and I look forward to discovering more from her in the future.

*I was provided an ARC copy of this book via the publisher & NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review*

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