Book review: The Midnight Feast by Lucy Foley

Friday, June 7, 2024 Permalink

The Midnight Feast by Lucy Foley is the third book I’ve read by the British author and I’ve enjoyed them all. She seemingly draws on long-kept secrets and develops intriguing and complex plots around relationships – testing family ties and friendship boundaries. Here the launch of a new luxurious wellness retreat brings together a disparate group of story tellers (in the present) and a diary-writer (in the past), the two converging in fresh tragedy as past secrets are revealed.

Book review: The Midnight Feast by Lucy FoleyThe Midnight Feast
by Lucy Foley
Published by HarperCollins UK
on 06/06/2024
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Thriller / Suspense, Psychological Thriller
ISBN: 000838505X
Pages: 421
four-stars
Goodreads

It’s the opening night of The Manor, and no expense, small or large, has been spared. The infinity pool sparkles; crystal pouches for guests’ healing have been placed in the Seaside Cottages and Woodland Hutches; the “Manor Mule” cocktail (grapefruit, ginger, vodka, and a dash of CBD oil) is being poured with a heavy hand. Everyone is wearing linen.

But under the burning midsummer sun, darkness stirs. Old friends and enemies circulate among the guests. Just outside the Manor’s immaculately kept grounds, an ancient forest bristles with secrets. And the Sunday morning of opening weekend, the local police are called. Something’s not right with the guests. There’s been a fire. A body’s been discovered.

We learn about the past a little through some of our narrators in the present, but it’s predominantly diary entries that share the events of a summer holiday in 2010.

In the present (2025) we jump around a little. We start with the official opening of the wellness retreat, then leap forward (a few days we learn, though initially I thought it was the very next day and was slightly confused) to after tragedy’s struck. We then move back and forth as those we meet traverse the next couple of days and revisit the past. We know these days culminate in a body, perhaps more than one, and a fire but Foley does a good job at keeping details from us until the very end when she deftly reveals them with a sleight of hand. Or fingertips to keyboard, I guess.

We have a few narrators, but it feels like Bella is front and centre. She’s at the retreat under false pretences and we piece together her story fairly quickly, thanks to the diary entries from fifteen years earlier. Then there’s Eddie, a local lad who’s washing dishes at the retreat but wants more from life. And Owen, husband to the retreat’s owner Francesca Meadows who inherited the Manor and its buildings and grounds from her grandfather. We also meet DI Walker, who arrives to investigate a body found on the beach as well as the fire and other happenings at the retreat.

We learn more about the past, when teenage Frankie (as Francesca was known then) visited her grandparents along with her older bratty and spoiled brothers, befriending other holidaymakers and a few locals. The Meadows family are not particularly pleasant and Frankie’s brothers comment that she’s got a habit of collecting things (and people) to make up for her mother’s lack of attention and affection.

Adding local folklore into the mix is a catalyst for all that comes after – both in the past and present. I wondered (however) if events would have unfolded similarly even if there weren’t stories of ‘the birds’, seemingly seeking revenge and punishment. A myth surely… though life-sized creatures are seen by reliable witnesses.

I loved the ‘reveals’ Foley offers in the present. Those from the past who’ve reinvented themselves. And those who our characters never really knew back then. Not really. I guessed at one or two of these but not some of the connections and Foley does a stellar job at timing these with catastrophic events at the retreat And the fact that there are still a few secrets falling out of the past at the very end made this a very entertaining (and satisfying) read.

The Midnight Feast by Lucy Foley was published in early June 2024 by Harper Collins UK.

I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.

four-stars

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