It's no secret that Stacy Willingham is one of my favorite authors ever, and she's only published two (and now three) books. She has a way with words, a way of explaining stories while holding major plot points and twist close her chest and throwing you off the scent completely.

Her past two thrillers, A Flicker in the Dark and All The Dangerous Things were two of the best books I've ever read, and A Flicker in the Dark is one of my favorite books of all time. I knew that her third Only If You're Lucky was going to knock it out of the park.

Only If You're Lucky will be released on January 16th but I had an ARC from NetGalley so it was one of the last books I read of 2023. It took me only a few days to read, and I finished most of it in one sitting because once that big reveal comes out, you're not going to want to put it down. 

If I had to rank them, I would say this is my 2nd favorite behind A Flicker in the Dark... it was rich with angst, twists, murder, and secrets. 

If you love psychological thrillers, you are going to adore Only If You're Lucky.

Publisher's Summary

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.

My Thoughts

As I said, I finished most of this book in one sitting because the big reveal happens a little past the halfway point, and then the wheels just come off! It's one thing after another of big reveals, hidden secrets coming to the surface, and jaw dropping moments.

I don't think I've ever met anyone like Lucy Sharpe; she's very reminiscent of other antagonists from other books, most notably from Ruth Ware's The It Girl. She's carefree, whimsical, a free spirit, who just attracts wounded dogs. I can't decide if I like these types of characters or if they annoy me...either way, they make for a great plot point.

The book toggles between the past and present - before and after Lucy goes missing. We do also get some insight into the past when Margot tells us the story about Eliza, which is all very eye opening and you could see why Margot was attracted to the type of person Lucy is.

Throughout the story, we get a clearer picture of life for Margot both before, after and during Lucy's disappearance. Things are not as they seem, people are not as they seem, and even Margot herself becomes unreliable at times. It's all a little confusing (in a positive way) because everything feels familiar and it's like things are repeating...but then once the curtain is pulled back and you see the characters for who they really are, things click into place.

There were multiple times throughout this book where I screeched and had my jaw drop. When you think everything has been revealed, you find out it's not.

Only If You're Lucky was not scary but it did creep me out at points so I couldn't really read at night. To me, Willingham's writing has an eerier undertone to it where it can send a chill up your spine. It's no different from other thriller plots but something about the way she puts the words together makes me uneasy.

This is definitely one of the best thrillers I've ever read, and I felt a little sad when it was over because it was gripping, suspenseful and so surprising. If you're a thriller nerd like me, you will adore Only If You're Lucky by Stacy Willingham! 


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