Title: Only If You’re Lucky
Author: Stacy Willingham
Publication: January 16, 2024
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Suspense, Thriller
SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)
Lucy Sharpe is larger than life. Magnetic, addictive. Bold and dangerous. Especially for Margot, who meets Lucy at the end of their freshman year at a liberal arts college in South Carolina. Margot is the shy one, the careful one, always the sidekick and never the center of attention. But when Lucy singles her out at the end of the year, a year Margot spent studying and playing it safe, and asks her to room together, something in Margot can’t say no—something daring, or starved, or maybe even envious.
And so Margot finds herself living in an off-campus house with three other girls, Lucy, the ringleader; Sloane, the sarcastic one; and Nicole, the nice one, the three of them opposites but also deeply intertwined. It’s a year that finds Margot finally coming out of the shell she’s been in since the end of high school, when her best friend Eliza died three weeks after graduation. Margot and Lucy have become the closest of friends, but by the middle of their sophomore year, one of the fraternity boys from the house next door has been brutally murdered… and Lucy Sharpe is missing without a trace.
**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
Stacy Willingham is known for hard-hitting psychological thrillers and I knew after reading her last novel, A Flicker in the Dark, I had to check out this book. This story followed a group of girls at college living next door to a fraternity. Now, this sounds like a typical YA fiction… maybe throw in some romance. But not this.
I was instantly intrigued by the characters. You just knew everyone was keeping so many secrets, and I just wanted to know what they were. I instantly was suspicious though of the motives of the characters and Willingham did a great job of building my trust in the characters while also planting doubt at the same time. Her writing style was next-level. I felt invested in the outcomes for all the characters. I also really enjoyed the suspense of this novel. I knew something had happened because of the back and forth between past and present, but the story’s buildup and development really kept me coming back.
My only issue was the flipping between past and present. I feel this story would have been just as interesting if it had just been from start to finish or even just a prologue with a glimpse of the end and then followed the story through in real time. The flashes to the current time and then going back to the story that led to it frustrated me. There was enough information given to peak my interest, but also not enough to justify the use of the back-and-forth for me.
Even with that said, there was a ton of suspense that kept the pages turning and me needing to know more. The ending was jaw-dropping and sealed the suspense in a tight bundle for me. I kind of wanted to know a little bit more at the end, but I was satisfied with the ending. I will add Willingham to my must-read list now that I am two books in. If you love suspense thrillers, Only If You’re Lucky is for you!