Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
If We Were Villains

If We Were Villains

A Novel

M. L. Rio

Flatiron Books

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Hardcover

“Much like Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, M. L. Rio’s sparkling debut is a richly layered story of love, friendship, and obsession...will keep you riveted through its final, electrifying moments.”
—Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, New York Times bestselling author of The Nest
"Nerdily (and winningly) in love with Shakespeare…Readable, smart.”
New York Times Book Review

Oliver Marks has just served ten years in jail – for a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he's released, he's greeted by the man who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened a decade ago.

Ten years ago: as one of seven young actors studying Shakespeare at an elite arts college, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extra. But when the plays spill dangerously over into life, one of them is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.

Intelligent, thrilling, and richly detailed, If We Were Villains is a captivating story of the enduring power and passion of words.

EXCERPT

SCENE 1


The time: September 1997, my fourth and final year at Dellecher Classical Conservatory. The place: Broadwater, Illinois, a small town of almost no consequence. It had been a warm autumn so far.

Enter the players. There...

Reviews

Praise for If We Were Villains

"Nerdily (and winningly) in love with Shakespeare...Readable, smart.”
New York Times Book Review

"Pulls the reader in from the first page...A well-written and gripping ode to the stage...A fascinating, unorthodox take on rivalry, friendship, and truth, IF WE WERE VILLAINS will draw readers in and leave them pondering the weight of our biggest actions and their consequences."
Mystery Scene

"Echoing such college-set novels as Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and mixing in enough Shakespearean theater to qualify readers for the stage, Rio’s debut mystery is an engrossing ride…Rio crafts an intricate story about friendship, love, and betrayal. Recommended for readers who enjoy literary fiction by authors such as Tartt or Emily St. John Mandel.”
Library Journal, starred review

“Bloody, melodramatic, suspenseful debut… This novel about obsession at the conservatory will thoroughly obsess you.”
Kirkus, starred review

"This is a rare and extraordinary novel: a vivid rendering of the closed world of a conservatory education, a tender and harrowing exploration of friendship, and a genuinely breathtaking literary thriller. I can’t recommend this book highly enough, and can’t wait to read what M. L. Rio writes next."
—Emily St. John Mandel, New York Times bestselling author of Station Eleven

“Much like Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, M. L. Rio’s sparkling debut is a richly layered story of love, friendship, and obsession. Both comic and tragic, this novel asks what people are willing to sacrifice in the name of ambition. Expertly plotted, beautifully written, If We Were Villains will keep you riveted through its final, electrifying moments.”
—Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, New York Times bestselling author of The Nest

“If We Were Villains is a whip-smart, chilling tale of a group of Shakespeare students who are, as the Bard put it, "a little more than kin, and less than kind" — especially after one of their own meets a horrific fate. Full of friendship, betrayal, and passionate devotion, this is a page-turning literary thriller whose final, shocking twist you won't soon forget.”
—Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, New York Times bestselling author of Bittersweet and June

“A tale worthy of the Bard himself…ending in one final, astonishing twist. Recommended for readers with refined literary tastes, and those looking for ‘something like’ Donna Tartt.”
Booklist

“Intriguing…a solid mystery that keeps the pages turning.”
Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

M. L. Rio

M. L. Rio has worked in bookstores and theatres for years, and holds a master's in Shakespeare studies from King’s College London. If We Were Villains is her debut novel.

M. L. Rio

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