Title: The Seaside Library
Author: Brenda Novak
Publication: April 11, 2023
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Mystery
SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)
There are secrets that bring friends together, and others that drive them apart…
Mariners Island is barely ten miles long, but when Ivy, Ariana and Cam were teenagers, it was their whole world. Beyond the pristine beaches and iconic lighthouse lies the beautiful old library that belongs to Ivy’s family. While that bound Ivy to the island as an adult, Ariana could not leave Mariners behind fast enough. The town holds too many…memories. Not only her unrequited feelings for Cam, but the tragedy that left a scar on the community.
When a young girl went missing, a teenaged Cam was unthinkably the prime suspect. Ariana and Ivy knew he couldn’t have hurt anyone, and they promised to protect him—even if it meant lying on his behalf.
Now, twenty years later, Ariana returns to Mariners just as new evidence emerges on the case, calling into question everything the three friends thought they knew—and everyone they thought they could trust. What really happened that night? Over the course of one eventful summer, Ariana, Ivy and Cam will learn the truth—about their pasts, their futures and the ties that still bind them as closely as the pages of a book…
**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
The Seaside Library by Brenda Novak caught my eye because it looked like a cozy beach read for an extremely hot summer where I live. The cover and the description of the book made me think this was going to be centered around a library on a little island and some friends who may have a secret. Part of that was true and the other part was a little confusing.
The story follows three friends who grew up together on an island. There was a girl who went missing when they were teens and apparently these three have a secret regarding what may or may not have happened. Based on the description of the book and the genre it was categorized in, I was expecting a light read with some drama between friends and their secrets. After all, the main genre was general and women’s fiction. I have to start by saying I would personally categorize this as a mystery, maybe even a cozy mystery to some extent, with a women’s fiction backdrop. As I was reading, this pleasantly surprised me because I am a huge fan of mystery novels, but it did confuse me a little bit because I wasn’t expecting it to be that type of story.
I want to discuss the fact that the seaside library, while mentioned, was not a major part of this story. I was expecting this to be a central theme to this story, but it was only mentioned in brief passings throughout the book and aside from being where one of the characters worked, it really had no sway in the storyline itself. That was instantly a confusing part of the story and a bit perturbed as to why the book was called what it was and why it was mentioned as if it were going to be so important in the synopsis on the back of the book.
With all that being said, I felt the plot was very interesting and the flow of the story kept me reading. I was eager to know who did it. I suspected all three of the main characters at some point, considered it could be a complete stranger at another, and dragged in a few of the side characters into my suspicion too. As the story grew, I liked how Novak led us with a slow build as our suspicions on certain characters grew. Novak also was able to make me start disliking characters I really liked in the beginning and liking ones I didn’t like to begin with. I love when an author can sway my very strong feelings on a matter.
I probably would have given this book a three, but I quite liked the mystery aspect and the story was unique how it played out. Novak should absolutely do more mystery/suspense novels because this was a great story. I’ll be checking out more of her books!