BOOK CLUB: The Guest Room

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Tasha Sylva’s debut novel, “The Guest Room” is a thriller that hits all the expected beats, but ends with a neat twist that’ll surprise many readers. It’s an easy and enjoyable read.

Tess is grief stricken by her sister Rosie’s violent death. She is obsessed with finding out who killed her – the police have made no progress, and in fact, the case is now so cold that they’re clearly putting more of their attention on other, newer crimes.

Meanwhile, Tess keeps going over Rosie’s last months, examining every detail in order to find potential clues. She is, in fact, starting to seem a little unhinged in the things she thinks might be clues.

Tess has moved into Rosie’s flat, and to meet the mortgage she has taken to renting Rosie’s room to a succession of short term guests. This in turn has given rise to another compulsion: searching through her guest’s possessions to see what they keep secret. Because everyone has secrets, don’t they?

When Arran rents the room for a whole month, Tess finds herself intrigued. He’s not easy to understand and yet is oddly appealing. In her search for secrets, Tess finds his diary — entry after entry about an unnamed woman. Tess keeps returning to read new entries, increasingly disturbed. Is Arran a man with a crush, or a dangerous stalker?

This is a pretty standard psychological thriller plot, with suspects both obvious and less obvious, a few red herrings, and a narrator whose perceptions may not be reliable. Indeed, at one point I thought it was too standard, and a bit obvious. But just you wait — that’s laying the groundwork for some unexpected moments.

The final twist is unexpected, and yet it has been foreshadowed earlier in the novel. I was quite annoyed with myself: I’d spotted a major clue but then allowed myself to be distracted by what seemed a more important issue. I should have known what was going on! 

The novel is manipulative in the best way, distracting and misleading you, pointing your attention in all sorts of directions. You know some of it is a smokescreen, but as you’re reading it’s very hard to tell what you should be paying attention to. Sylva is very good at focusing you on what she wants you to be thinking about.

Tess is an interesting character, in that on a lot of levels, she’s not very appealing. She’s sneaky and she makes the life of the detective assigned to her sister’s case difficult – being obstructive when she thinks she’s helping. She’s not a great friend. And as I said, she’s increasingly sounding quite unhinged.

And yet. Who couldn’t feel for her, losing her sister in such a way? Her parents are no help – the resemblance between the sisters is so strong that they can’t even look at Tess any more. Most of her friends have drifted away, and her work is low skill and isolating. It’s easy enough to understand her, and although you might not want her as a friend, you will get strongly drawn into her quest to find her sister’s killer.

I enjoyed this, and I think most thriller fans will. It’s well written, and although the plot is at times a little too obvious with some of the suspects, it redeems itself with the final twist. I was never bored and found myself satisfied when I closed the novel.

Copy courtesy of Welbeck (2023)

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading The Guest Room by Tasha SylvaYou can read their comments below, or add your own review.

8 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Guest Room

  1. Thank you for my copy of The Guest Room by Tasha Sylva.

    Tess is trying to find out who killed her sister Rosie. She is keeping the police on the case and becoming quite obsessive about it. She has no family nearby for support, is living in her flat and working where she worked.

    To help with her expenses she is renting out Rosie’s room to guests for short term stays. Her other obsession is going through their possessions to find out more about them. She feels there are secrets everywhere. Her new guest has signed on for a month and Arran is intriguing. She finds a diary he is writing and always needs to read the most current entry. Her opinion of him varies depending on the entries. Then there are other people Tess comes in contact with in her building, and her one friend Nalika. There are interesting qualities about each of these that has Tess feeling they could know something about Rosie’s death.

    There are many twists and turns in who to believe is a suspect or a friend and it’s written with an eerie sense that anything could happen. Tess is hard to empathise with with all her obsessions and the way she treats people throughout the book. I couldn’t work out whether to sympathise with her or if I would have done anything similar. By the end I got more of a feeling of how she coped with her situation and that she was going through difficult circumstances that would test anyone. I enjoyed the final twist and how the book ended.

  2. Tess is dealing with grief after the murder of her sister in the local park. The police seem to be at a dead end but Tess is convinced she knows who it is. She becomes more unstable and obsessive as time goes on, walking through dangerous parts of town at night and harassing her sister’s ex and the police officer in charge of the case.
    She has turned her spare room into a bnb and her new guest, a handsome man called Arran, introduces a potential love interest. However, Tess has developed the habit of searching her guests’ rooms and she finds and reads Arran’s diary. She learns that he is in love with an unnamed woman and is clearly stalking her. For a while, Tess becomes convinced that she is the object of this obsession. By following Arran, she discovers him with a woman who she suspects is at risk from him. Her decision to follow and befriend this woman ends badly. At various times, all the people in Tess’s life come under scrutiny as the potential killer of her sister and she doesn’t know who to trust. Her behaviour becomes more and more erratic. What is Arran’s secret and what brought him to Tess’s spare room? Who is telling the truth and who is lying?
    This book was hard to put down. The level of tension increased throughout and the new twists in the plot kept me engrossed. The multiple characters are well developed and none are apparently what they seem. I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it to those who love a psychological thriller. Thanks to Welbeck and Beauty & Lace for the chance to read and review this great book.

  3. Tess has moved in to her murdered sisters flat to stay close to the police investigation. To help pay the mortgage she turns her sister’s old bedroom into a BnB. Either through grief or despair Tess has some strange habits, in particular going through her guests’ belongings with the hope she gets caught. When Arran moves in for four weeks and Tess finds his diary, she can’t help but keep reading to see the latest entry.

    Tess is not a likeable character. She is unhinged and not a particularly good friend to anyone. She suspects everyone of being her sisters’ killer and even starts to wonder if the mystery lady Arran writes about in his diary is her, particularly when they become creepy.

    With numerous twists and turns and a few curve balls thrown in it is hard to know which of the characters we need to be watching as the potential killer or if we have been deliberately thrown off the scent. A very cleverly written debut novel.

    This is a slow burn psychological thriller that will leave you guessing until the very end.

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Welbeck for the opportunity to read and review The Guest Room by Tasha Sylva – a real page turner.

  4. Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Welbeck I was lucky enough to review “The Guest Room” by Tasha Sylva.

    Tess’ sister, Rosie has died under tragic circumstances, and she is making it her mission to find out who did this to her sister. She feels the Police are not doing the job well enough.

    Tess air bnb’s a room in her house, one particular guest, Arran, stays for a longer period than normal. Tess always like to snoop through the bnb guest room to find their secrets, Arran is his diary. Tess originally thinks he is writing about her only to discover that he is talking about someone else. Tess becomes jealous and starts to follow both Arran and the girl she thinks he is talking about, Joanna.

    Tess also blames Oliver, Rosie’s ex boyfriend, for the death of her sister. She tries everything to get him convicted.

    Tess becomes obsessed with following people, Arran, Joanna and Oliver.

    When Joanna goes missing Tess believes it is Arran who did this, she continues to read his diary and then it clicks who Arran is writing about. Tess confronts him only to then find out who the real killer is of her sister.

    A good book that keeps you interested and in suspense wanting to know what will happen and who the killer is and also who Aaran is writing about.

  5. Thank you to Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read the debut novel by Author Tash Sylva.
    Theresa is living in her deceased Sister Rosie’s flat, however financial pressures force her to start renting out her late sister Rosie’s room after she is murdered to make extra money. Theresa or Tess as she is known, also has a terrible and unsettling habit of rifling and snooping through her guests belongings any chance she gets when they are not around. When Tess receives a request for a month long stay from a man named Arran she is hesitant at first as she prefers short stay rentals, but allows Arran to stay longer term. Arran is intriguing to Tess, as he is a quiet, unassuming, guest who keeps a diary that Tess sneaks and reads any chance she gets. Tess is determined to find out who killed her sister and who the mystery woman is from Arran’s diary.

    As the Protagonist, I found Tess quite unlikeable and honestly wondered why everyone was more accepting of her. Tess becomes a stalker, but this book reveals many stalkers and shady people. A psychological thriller, but a bit of a slow burn. That said, the twists and turns are what makes this book compelling and wanting to know who did what and why.
    I enjoyed this read and look forward to reading more novels from this talented debut writer.

  6. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read the Guest Room by Tash Sylva.

    From the first chapter, the story was gripping and the grief and drive that Tess had to find her sister’s killer left the reader feeling empathy and understanding for her actions.

    The story was written in a way that there were twists and turns, waiting to see what happens next and being kept guessing.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the story and would like to read more from this author in the future.

  7. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the offer to review The Guest Room by Tasha Sylva.

    Tess’s sister Rosie was murdered at a local park and Tess believes the police are not doing enough to find the killer. Tess moves into Rosie’s apartment to keep close to the police investigation. She doesn’t have family close by so is essentially alone. To make ends meet Tess rents out Rosie’s bedroom for short stays. The new boarder is a man called Arran who has a past connected to Tess that she doesn’t know about. Tess also has a habit of going into Arran’s room when he is out and reading his diary which makes her see him differently.

    I really enjoyed this book and it kept me guessing with many twists and turns.

  8. Thanks for the opportunity to review this book. This is my preferred genre of novel so I was really keen to read this and it did not disappoint. The book is centred on Tess who is likeable for the most part and you can really emphasise with her as she tries to progress with her life after the murder of her sister. There are a few parts to the book going on all at once and then they converge at the end. The book really kept me guessing throughout and then threw in an unexpected twist at the end. I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it.

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