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Named a Best New Book of 2021 (so far) by Real Simple
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2021 by Lit Hub and Bustle
A gripping, multilayered debut in the tradition of Tana French and Donna Tartt about four friends, an empty manor, and a night that will follow them for the rest of their lives
It's the summer of 1996 and school's out forever for Andy, her boyfriend Marcus, her best friend Peter, and Em. When Andy's alcoholic mother predicts the apocalypse, the four teenagers decide to see out the end of the world at a deserted manor house, the site of a historic unsolved mystery. There they meet David—charming and unreliable, he seems to have appeared out of nowhere.
David presents an irresistible lure for both Andy and Peter and complicates the dynamics of their lifelong friendship. When the group learns that a diamond necklace, stolen fifty years ago, might still be somewhere on the manor grounds, the Game—half treasure hunt, half friendly deception—begins. But the Game becomes much bigger than the necklace, growing to encompass years of secrets, lies, and, ultimately, one terrible betrayal.
Meticulously plotted and gorgeously written, Before the Ruins is a page-turner of the highest order about the sealed-off places in our pasts and the parts of ourselves waiting to be retrieved from them.
"Engrossing, beguiling, and with an undertow of menace, Before the Ruins is a masterly debut from a richly talented author."
—Sarah Waters, author of The Paying Guests
"Four disaffected teenagers, a deserted manor, an unlimited supply of drugs, and a cache of potentially explosive secrets. What could go right? Before the Ruins, Victoria Gosling’s stunner of a debut novel, is rich with mystery and moral disorder. It put me in mind of Edward St. Aubyn and Donna Tart; dark, fierce, and totally addictive."
—Valerie Martin, author of Property and Trespass