Katie Manning was a beloved child star until her mid-teens when her manager attacked and permanently scarred her face, effectively ending her career and sending her on a path of all-too-familiar post-Hollywood self-destruction.
Now twenty-seven, Katie wants a better answer to those click bait “Where Are They Now?” articles that float around online. An answer she hopes to find when her brother’s to-good-to-be-true fiancée invites her to a wellness retreat upstate. Together with Katie’s two best friends – one struggling with crippling debt and family obligations, one running away from a failed job and relationship – Katie will try to find the inner peace promised at the tranquil retreat. But finding oneself just might drudge up more memories than Katie is prepared to deal with.
Each woman has come to the retreat for different reasons. Each has her secrets to hide, and at the end of the weekend, nay one will live.
The last girl standing.The Retreat, Sherri Smith
Thrillers are definitely one of my favourite genres, and Sherri Smith gives us not one, but four deeply layered and troubled women, all hiding secrets. The dynamic of Katie and her practically perfect future sister in law Ellie is fraught and dysfunctional, filled with dislike and distrust. Katie’s college friends Ariel and Carmen have an equally complicated relationship with Katie with varying degrees of emotional and financial dependancy. The vastly different lives and upbringings of each of these women create an intriguing mix of personalities.
Once they arrive at the retreat, we meet a fantastic array of characters. A couple who are camp regulars, a video game designer, a recent divorcée, a paramedic with PTSD, the famous Dr Dave, and his wife Naomi.
As the days progress, the therapy and activities intensify from picking vegetable to a ceremony with a special tea to help you find the real you. But that’s not the only thing that comes out in the climax of this tale.
The Retreat doesn’t just look at the consequences of your actions, but also dark pasts, old trauma, and repressed memories. Told by Katie, Ellie, Ariel, and Carmen, each secret that is revealed makes you want more, each new action leaves you hungry for the consequences, and most importantly you just want to know who is the last girl standing.