What if everything you know about the worst night of your life turns out not to be true?
Nine years ago, with the world’s eyes on her, Charlie Colbert fled. The press and the police called Charlie a “witness” to the nightmarish events at her elite graduate school on Christmas Eve—events known to the public as “Scarlet Christmas”—though Charlie knows she was much more than that.
Now, Charlie has meticulously rebuilt her life: she’s the editor-in-chief of a major magazine, engaged to the golden child of the publishing industry, and hell-bent on never, ever letting her guard down again. But when a buzzy film made by one of Charlie’s former classmates threatens to shatter everything she’s worked for, Charlie realizes how much she’s changed in nine years. Now, she’s not going to let anything—not even the people she once loved most—get in her way.
Hi and welcome to my review of Everyone Who Can Forgive Me Is Dead!
Here is what we know: in her early twenties, Charlie moved from London to New York City to attend an elite graduate school for journalism. A while later, something happened. People died. These events went down in history as “Scarlet Christmas”. Now, nine years later, Charlie is pretty much unrecognisable, she’s built a career, rebuilt her life as well as her nose, and is engaged to be married to one of NYC’s most eligible men. She’s golden, until the whole thing gets dredged up again, in time for the ten-year anniversary of the events.
Here is what we don’t know: anything else! What the hell happened nine years ago? Alternating timelines, then and now, keep dangling the carrot in front of the reader but it takes forever to actually find out what happened, and while it was highly suspenseful at one point, it also got on my nerves a little bit. What we also don’t know is how reliable a narrator Charlie is, seeing as she herself doesn’t remember what happened and is trying to get her memories back.
As I said above, while at times the suspense was killing me, at times I felt like it was all a little too dragged out. To my mind, there are also a couple of things that don’t fully make sense, which I can’t discuss because spoilers.
From the blurb, I think I expected more of a ruthless main character. More along the lines of The Devil Wears Prada, with maybe even some minor Sweetpea or You’d Look Better As a Ghost vibes, instead of Charlie, who is a nervous wreck for most of the story. And I do get why she’s flipping out, and it’s not that she’s not interesting as a protagonist, she is. But, I don’t know, it just didn’t really work for me. Maybe because I’m the kind of person who would want to know ASAP what I can’t remember, and not nine years later? She’s been seeing a therapist for years, why is she only working on retrieving those memories now? Is it too painful? Maybe, but how is not knowing any better?!
One last niggle was the saccharine sweet ending. I like closure, I do not like endings wrapped up within an inch of their lives with a big pink bow on top. I thought I was supposed to be reading a thriller, not watching a Hallmark movie. I guess many other readers will love the ending, but it really wasn’t for me.
Overall, Everyone Who Can Forgive Me Is Dead was an okay read for me. It kept me entertained enough and I had a few wait, what moments (even if some of them led to a niggle or two), but unfortunately, it didn’t entirely work for me.
Everyone Who Can Forgive Me Is Dead is out in digital formats, audio and hardcover on 6 February.
Thanks to Little, Brown and Netgalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own.