Cover Image: The Engagement Party

The Engagement Party

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Member Reviews

An isolated island, a group of college friends, and a party form the backdrop to this mystery thriller.

Years have passed when the invitation to an engagement party comes in the mail. Old college friends, bound by secrets and lies, agree to attend and arrive for a weekend meant for celebration. Twelve years have elapsed since their friend Emily Hunt was murdered and the student who was thought to be guilty committed suicide. But this group is about to get a surprise. Someone knows that they have not been telling the truth. And they are about to be exposed.

This novel was full of melodrama, deplorable characters, and far too wordy to hold interest. It reminded me of a bad teenage slasher film. I could not stand these young adults and their behavior. Every bit of this was such a trope including the island setting and the storm. I didn't feel any tension or suspense and only kept reading to find out if all my guesses were right. Predictable and annoying with the ending you expect. I'd pass if I were you.

Thank you to the publisher for the e-book ARC to read and review. I also got the audiobook from the library to follow along and the narrator had a lot of voices to try to make distinct and often fell short. Sadly, this was not for me.

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Lessons I Learned from this book:
✔️If you have a bad feeling about old college buddies it’s best to steer clear.
✔️ always listen to your instincts
✔️Maine might not be the ideal place to hold a party
✔️expect the unexpected from Darby Kane

I was kept guessing with this book. There were a lot of voices to keep straight but after awhile it was easy to juggle them.

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Darby Kane is a great writer! I gave this one five stars for the awesome plot. The book starts when a violent storm strands a bunch of guests for a party on a remote island. You will not want to miss a minute of this incredible story!

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I loved this book! So entertaining with amazing twists. Darby Kane is one of the best thriller writers out there!

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As a fan of escape room type games, I love to read books about people who are trapped on an island or in a house and are trying to solve a murder/survive the murderous rampage of a psychopath. This story held my interest throughout and didn't make me roll my eyes like thrillers often do (I judge this genre the toughest), so I was happy.

The one knock I will give it is that I have read quite a few novels that were centered around a murder that took place in college within a group of friends, and now we are set in the future with the surviving friends and the consequences finally meeting up with them. It's starting to feel a little played out at this point. Kind of like the unreliable woman narrator after Gone Girl. But if you enjoy that style of writing, then I recommend this one because Darby Kane did a good job.

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This one starts right out of the gate, lots of twists and turns and you keep guessing who the killer is and then change your mind. I like this kind of story even if the characters and story are a little cliché. Someone dies, 12 years later remaining friends get together on a remote island and then a big storm strands them on said island. What could go wrong? I listened to the audiobook and the narrator, Carlotta Brentan, did an amazing job with all the characters. Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.

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10 million stars out of 5 and I'd give more if it were possible! I've read a few books publishing in 2024 thanks to Thriller Book Lovers Promotions and Engagement Party is one to watch out for as a beloved favorite. Read it if you enjoy Lisa Jewell, Seraphina Nova Glass, Jaime Hendricks and Samantha Bailey books; you sure won't be disappointed. The next book by Darby I'm going to read is Pretty Little Wife and i started it on audio and it is SO CREEPY GOOD! Darby Kane is one author I read even without reading the synopsis. I will read whatever she writes, regardless if it's psyche suspense or a romcom.

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Trapped on an island with a group of college friends (and two guests) who are hiding dark secrets from their past, someone seems to know those secrets and be enacting revenge one-by-one… Darby Kane’s latest psychological thriller, The Engagement Party is a tense, gripping mystery that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Twelve years ago

A group of college students on the cusp of graduation have their lives shattered when one of their own is murdered. Emily Hunt was found dead on graduation weekend. Beautiful, popular, and wealthy—the nation became obsessed with the tragic death of this woman with her whole life ahead of her. But the Emily in real life wasn’t so perfect. She played games, especially with men, leading to a number of suspects at the college and even in her own friend group. Another student became the prime suspect in the murder, despite some discrepencies in the case against him. His suicide not long after the police question him seems to confirm that he must have murdered Emily. Her five closest friends—Will, Jake, Cassie, Alex, and Mitch—bonded in the wake of the tragedy where the two students lost their lives, but do they know more than they are saying?

Now

Will and his fiancé Ruthie have invited his closest friends to a private island to celebrate their engagement. Alex and Cassie are now married and a power couple, both having excelled in law school and beyond. Jake doesn’t come—he’s walked away from the group and the terrible memories and secrets they are keeping from so long ago. Mitch has started a successful business with a woman named Sierra who is in love with him. He brings Sierra with to the engagement party for support.

But not long after the six people arrive on the island, things begin to go awry. An alarm alerts them to go to the garage where a vehicle is parked with a dead body in the trunk. None of them admits to doing this, but it has to be one of them. Unless someone else is on the island? Cut off from the mainland in a storm with no cell service, this isn’t the first dead body that will surface. And as the tension mounts, secrets are revealed. Someone knows what happened to Emily all of those years ago and has brought them to this island for revenge. But who?

Review

The Engagement Party felt very different from Darby Kane’s previous thrillers, but not in a bad way. Her previous books tend to largely told from one or two perspectives and explore troubling events surrounding the characters that culminate in a twist. I’d describe her previous books as closer to domestic suspense novels that pack a big punch towards the end. This book differed; it featured many narrators plus information from a set of book notes about Emily’s case. Who wrote those? You’ll find out towards the end of the book. This book is also a locked room style mystery with I Know What You Did Last Summer vibes to it. Fresh and different from Kane’s prior work, but no less gripping.

Short chapters and changing perspectives kept the pace moving quickly. Kane expertly drops twists and reveals throughout to keep the story tense and engaging. Inserted between chapters are excerpts from book notes about Emily and the investigation into her murder. Emily wasn’t as perfect as the media would like her to seem. Emily was alluring but flawed, and often played around with men in her life who she knew she could manipulate. Her death looms over the story, though there are more secrets to be revealed and other mysteries to unveil. By the end, the plot was pulled taut it felt it could snap at any moment (and indeed it does!)

The mystery of who was behind what is happening on the island had me in a chokehold. We learn at the beginning of the book that Ruthie (Will’s fiancé who has an unknown interest in this group of friends) intentionally brought the group to this island with some agenda. But soon it becomes clear that Ruthie doesn’t know what is going on. The weekend has spiraled out of her control, and she realizes that someone else has an agenda. Dead bodies continue to crop up. I wondered who from the group may be behind this. Sierra seems to be the only character we can trust. With quickly changing narrators, the characters are keeping their own secrets from the group and the reader.

Tense, gripping, and atmospheric! This book had vibes of classic locked room mysteries and thrillers about long-buried secret pacts. The ending packs a good twist that I didn’t see coming, and the whodunnit kept me guessing start to finish. A quick and engaging psychological thriller that will have you gripping the book a bit too tightly as you race to the final reveal!

Thank you to William Morrow for my copy. Opinions are my own.

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I did not finish. The characters did not have enough backstory and became indistinguishable from each other. I don't plan on reading any other books by this author.

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This was the first book I've read by Darby Kane and it was totally bringing me back to my childhood obsession with the "I Know What You Did Last Summer" movie series. Set on a private island in Maine, a college reunion between friends celebrating engagement turns into a murder mystery gone wrong. I loved the "whodunit storyline", but didn't really fall in love with the characters. Thank you to #NetGalley as well as Darby Kane and William Morrow for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my unbiased and honest review.

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This is not my favorite Kane book. It just felt like it dragged on and on. 😬 I eventually lost interest after it was already revealed and did not finish the book.

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This was fine. Pretty generic, a little over the top, and really should’ve been YA as the characters don’t read as mid-30s. But people trapped on an island with a killer is always fun.

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I hate to give negative reviews of arcs because I’m so grateful to have access to them. However, this book was the pits. Too many characters and none well defined. Too much chaos. It didn’t make it thrilling; it made it exhausting. No redeeming twists. Little closure on any of the deaths. Just too much trying to be crammed in and yet somehow also droning on endlessly. This would have been a dnf if I hadn’t agreed to review it. I held into hope that it would improve but it didn’t. And the writing wasn’t redemptive either. Just a no all around.

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The Engagement Party is a fast paced thriller that keeps you engaged from page one. It revolves around past lies and secrets over the death of a college friend in the past. Someone knows what happened but who? Do they all know? In a bid for the truth a woman targets the man she sees as the weakest link and in a whirlwind relationship that fast tracks so a fast engagement she lures the rest of the group to the a remote island for an engagement party to find the truth once and for all about what really happened to Emily. However, it soon becomes apparent that she isn’t the only one with a hidden agenda and a planned weekend to find the truth turns into a harrowing game of survival. The book kept me interested and engaged. I can say everything lines up perfectly but it was a good read and entertaining nonetheless and I recommend it to those who like fast paced thrillers.

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This was such a fun read. It was really engaging, shocking, and gripping book. I read it pretty quickly and was immersed the whole time. I mostly loved the setting of this book. Stuck on an island with a storm. The tension that was in this book kept me on the edge of my seat and kept having me turning the pages. I had a lot of fun trying to be the detective from the readers stand point to try to figure out who done it!

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This was a fun and entertaining story! I enjoyed the characters the pace and I had no problem getting lost in the pages!

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I really enjoyed Darby Kane's other books, but this one had me toggling stars through most of it. I'm still not sure if it's because there are simply too many books out there like this, or the characters were just that unlikable, because she still delivers with great, page-turning writing.

The who-to-believe or not believe elements and the action are definitely there though, so in the end, I give it a pick!

Thank you to Darby Kane, William Morrow, NetGalley for this eARC!

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The Engagement Party, by Darby Kane, is an action-packed, suspenseful, locked “room” thriller set on a remote island in Maine, during a storm that isolates all on it from outside contact. When six people, five former college friends, gather together for an unlikely engagement party, that no one is quite looking forward to, things immediately begin to go very wrong.

Twelve years ago, Emily Hunt went missing on the night she graduated from college. When her body turns up days later, it is ruled a murder and all eyes turn to her close group of friends. When they all seem to have reliable alibis, the police, eager to find the suspect, fixate on quiet, subdued, nerdy gamer Brendan, who sent a vaguely threatening text to Emily shortly before her death. Even though there was no viable evidence linking him to the crime, and he steadfastly proclaimed his innocence, his suicide not long after the event seemed to prove his guilt. Each person in the friend group goes on to live highly successful lives, but each also lives with the guilt of tightly held secrets. And once they are on the island, their long-held secrets seem to want revenge, as the story slowly unravels and turns into chaos and murder.

This story is tension-packed and though a bit too long and drawn out for the plot that took place, it was riveting and hard to put down. It’s a bit over-the-top, but that’s also what makes it entertaining. The Engagement Party is a quick-reading, engaging, sinister thriller that will captivate you to the very last page.

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What are you waiting for? Read this book! When a group of college friends meet for the weekend to celebrate an engagement they are wary years ago. One of their friends Elaine died a mysterious death. They haven’t seen each other since. The celebration is on a remote island. After a storm hits the island and ,their power is knocked out the bodies start showing up. This book gave me Agatha Christie vibes!

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Darby, what a tangled web you have wove. This book was so much fun, but these characters were all so unlikeable. So many secrets to hide, and so much to lose, what will they do to keep them?

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