If We Were Villains Review

Paperback, 432 Pages
Adult/ Mystery/ Contemporary
By: M.L. Rio
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

“For someone who loved words as much as I did, it was amazing how often they failed me.”

Let’s do this in the author’s style: I has’t been at each moment intrigu’d by this novel since the moment i did see t. The cov’r with the death’s-head, the synopsis t hast, and the glowing reviews t hath taken madeth t an obligat’ry readeth f’r me.

Since last year, I have had a strange urge to read Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and then I found out about this one and I heard it is kind of similar except that it is shorter and newer so I decided to finish this one first!

The story in short follows seven forth-year acting students. The story starts with one of the characters recalling the events of the story and how the events lead to this current day. Obviously one of the students dies and they are suspected with much drama ensuing between them. It felt like an Agatha Christie meets Shakespeare kind of novel.

“You can justify anything if you do it poetically enough.”

I had mixed feelings about the writing because I liked the author’s writing but I did not like the author quoting Shakespeare whether it felt appropriate or not. I feel that if you like Shakespeare and the Old English he used, then you will most probably love this one, if you are like me and prefer modern English then you will skim some parts of the book real quick. I think the author has a great writing style and she should have focused on her writing more than just quoting The Bard (Even if she did some changes to his writings).

The characters, if I am going to be direct about this then yes, I loved the characters, I loved their interactions and their drama but I know there could have been better. First, the book introduces all the characters at once, but then we get to know them more slowly and on a personal level, we also had physical descriptions of them which is something I like very much, in this aspect, it reminded me of Christie’s style in writing characters. Second, the characters fall into some archetypes and sometimes they had to act as the mold they were fit into which made them feel unnatural to me. The author herself -Answering a question on GR said:- I didn’t at any point stop and say, “No, this person can’t have that trait or say that thing because it doesn’t conform to their archetype,” or “This is what this character must do or say to conform to their archetype” because real people don’t have archetypes. They’re much more complex than that). But it felt that they did nonetheless.

I liked the characters because they still felt read despite the criticism I mentioned above, I liked Oliver’s being average, I liked the characters when they described their strengths and weaknesses, I enjoyed the drama, I mean acting students need to have this flare and they did, this is a very character driven book and I enjoyed those characters pretty much.

“Actors are by nature volatile—alchemic creatures composed of incendiary elements, emotion and ego and envy. Heat them up, stir them together, and sometimes you get gold. Sometimes disaster.”

Many times, the character used Shakespeare quotes to talk to one another. I mean, when I meet my friends who happen to be friends we often drift into medical conversations and Jargon given that it occupies the most part of our lives, I can understand students who are almost graduating to speak like this between them, but I couldn’t understand it at a few moments where it felt forced and would have never happened in real life. For example, when finding one of them is dead!! t madeth me cringe!!

Regarding the pacing and the plot, I like how the book was written like a play with scenes instead of chapters and they were short and addicting so the whole thing was quick to read given its formula. The plot begins to grow and grow and I was like very excited while reading it but then I guessed the identity of the killer and found the rest of the plot very predictable. I think I reached the peak of the story much earlier than I was supposed to which made it a bit less exciting after that. The last plot twist is something I did not expect though and I really loved it. I should mention that this is more like a thriller than a mystery, there wasn’t a lot of investigation going on and I felt the characters were left off the hook pretty simply and carried on with their lives, I feel like if it were a mystery novel with a smart detective like Poirot or Holmes, It would have taken a much different course of events!


I bethink t is a v’ry valorous booketh
the charact’rs art st’reotypical but realistic
the plot is predictable, enjoyable though
the pacing wast festinate
a v’ry int’resting readeth


  1. This one sounds a bit of a mixed bag but Donna Tartt’s Secret History is fab. I have to count the decades between her books because she believes in leaving a 10 year gap between books.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. i think i understand what you mean when the characters fall into archetypes, but i actually thought that was really interesting, especially when their dynamic starts to change. like, they already expected which parts they’d get before they’d even auditioned for the play, because they always got similar roles. so when oliver, being average, gets an unexpected role, or when james is shown wanting to get the tyrant’s roles that were always richard’s, that’s when things start to go wrong. so i think the archetypes were necessary at first, because it’s their disruption that causes all the drama to begin with.

    likewise, i found most of the plot predictable, which is why i wasn’t initially super excited about it, but the final plot twist made my jaw drop and i am still thinking about it, hahah.

    i hope you do read the secret history! i read the donna tart one before if we were villains, so i think it will be interesting to compare it the other way around.

    Liked by 1 person

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