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If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
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If We Were Villains

by M.L. Rio

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5013533,854 (3.82)19
"Much like Donna Tartt'sThe Secret History, M. L. Rio's sparkling debut is a richly layered story of love, friendship, and obsession...will keep you riveted through its final, electrifying moments." --Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney,New York Times bestselling author ofThe Nest "Nerdily (and winningly) in love with Shakespeare...Readable, smart." --New York Times Book Review On the day Oliver Marks is released from jail, the man who put him there is waiting at the door. Detective Colborne wants to know the truth, and after ten years, Oliver is finally ready to tell it. A decade ago: Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, a place of keen ambition and fierce competition. In this secluded world of firelight and leather-bound books, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extras. But in their fourth and final year, good-natured rivalries turn ugly, and on opening night real violence invades the students' world of make-believe. In the morning, the fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy, and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, each other, and themselves that they are innocent. If We Were Villains was named one of Bustle's Best Thriller Novels of the Year, andMystery Scene says, "A well-written and gripping ode to the stage...A fascinating, unorthodox take on rivalry, friendship, and truth."… (more)
  1. 30
    The Secret History by Donna Tartt (RiversideReader)
    RiversideReader: both books about friends at college who get caught up in a group crime
  2. 00
    The Basic Eight by Daniel Handler (Lirmac)
  3. 00
    The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips (Lirmac)
    Lirmac: Two books that explore creativity, crime and their connection to Shakespeare.
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» See also 19 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
An excellent addition to the pantheon of "macabre campus novels". I really liked this book! it was emotionally arresting, and I can't wait to dive in for a second-read to really focus on unpacking the Shakespearean text, which was so rich and absolutely stunningly incorporated! ( )
  grimmetz | May 31, 2020 |
4.5 stars ( )
  the_lirazel | Apr 6, 2020 |
This was a five star book until the end. Too much tying up knots and a cop out in the final few pages.

This novel has beautiful prose, excellent pacing, perfect scene lengths and great act organization. If it had ended a few pages earlier, I would have rated it 5 and said it deserved maybe a 6.

Still, and I can’t emphasize this enough, it is well worth the time to see the wonderful work that the author has created. ( )
  drew_asson | Mar 22, 2020 |
Not really much of a murder mystery. Bunch of Shakespeare-quoting, rather annoying, drama students get wound up, the most obnoxious one ends up dead, anyone with half a brain can work out what happened from halfway through. ( )
  TheEllieMo | Jan 18, 2020 |
3.5 stars

That ending, though 🙏 ( )
  hinfatuation | Dec 4, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
In this strong and assured first novel, Rio crafts an intricate story about friendship, love, and betrayal. Recommended for readers who enjoy literary fiction by authors such as Tartt or Emily St. John Mandel.
added by ablachly | editLibrary Journal (Apr 17, 2017)
 
This novel about obsession at the conservatory will thoroughly obsess you.
 
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For the many weird and wonderful thespians whom I have had the good fortune to call my friends. (I promise this is not about you.)
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Enter the players.
There were seven of us then, seven bright young things with wide precious futures ahead of us, though we saw no further than the books in front of our faces.


On the day Oliver Marks is released from jail, the man who put him there is waiting at the door. Detective Colborne wants to know the truth, and after ten years, Oliver is finally ready to tell it.

Ten years ago: Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, a place of keen ambition and fierce competition. In this secluded world of firelight and leather-bound books, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extras. But in their fourth and final year, the balance of power begins to shift, good-natured rivalries turn ugly, and on opening night real violence invades the students' world of make-believe. In the morning, fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, one another, and themselves that they are innocent.

Part coming-of-age story, part confession, If We Were Villains explores the magical and dangerous boundary between art and life. In this tale of loyalty and betrayal, madness and ecstasy, the players must choose what roles to play before the curtain falls.

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