An Unwanted Guest
Published: 8/7/2018
A retreat at a cozy mountain lodge is supposed to be the perfect getaway . . . but when the storm hits, no one is getting away. One of the guests turns up dead--it looks like an accident. But when a second guest dies, they start to panic. Within the snowed-in paradise, something--or someone--is picking off the guests one by one. And there's nothing they can do but hope they can survive.

It's time for my first author battle: that special time where I read two books by the same author and put them head to head against each other. For this first bout, I read "A Stranger in the House" and "An Unwanted Guest" by Shari Lapena. This review is for "An Unwanted Guest."

This book is one of those (that I love) where you get interwoven perspectives from all the characters. Here are my interpretations of the cast of characters who turn up at the mountain lodge.

Gwen and Riley, two friends who make the trek to have a girls' weekend. Gwen is pretty non-descript, and I honestly didn't care for her much. Riley is a journalist suffering from PTSD due to being stationed and taken hostage in Afghanistan.

Then we have Henry and Beverly. Beverly takes Henry to the lodge because their marriage is failing. She soon discovers Henry's infidelity and general lack of enthusiasm for literally anything. I also didn't like Henry, if you couldn't tell.

We also have the couple of Matthew and Dana. Matthew is a rich bitch, most in love with his fiance Dana. Dana is the girl that makes all the guys go, "ooh la la la," leading to some jealousy in the lodge.

There's also Ian and Lauren. They seem... fine I guess. Ian admits to having left his brother to drown in a pond when he was little, so there's that. Lauren just mostly sits around and judges everyone.

The owner of the lodge is a chill bro named James. His wife died, I think... can't totally remember. But, either way, he now runs the lodge with his son Bradley. It's hinted (and even outright said) that Bradley has a sketchy past. Something with drugs and the #wrong crowd that isn't explored as much as it should be other than to set him up as the possible murder suspect.

Ok, I think that's all the cast. Oh, wait, there was also a writer named Candice, but I honestly don't even know why she was really in the story. (Other than as another victim.)

So what I want you to picture is all of these people I just described arriving at a big, beautiful bed and breakfast/lodge up in the snowy mountainside. It's picturesque and serene. A perfect winter wonderland. Frosty the Snowman happily skips by the entrance.

In the beginning, everyone meshes and mingles together way better than my anxiety can even comprehend truly happening. I find myself relating to Riley, who fidgets and appears anxious in every social situation. Everyone notices her and declares her "weird" or "off", but all I could think was #me. I mean, there are literally strangers talking to each other at a cocktail hour. They sit with each other at dinner. It's too much social interaction for total strangers, says this introvert.

So basically, blah, blah, blah.. exposition, dialogue, and then BAM someone ends up murdered. Four (or maybe 5?) people end up dead by the end of the book, and I got some real Agatha Christie "And Then There Were None" vibes. My two favorite parts were 1. watching everyone unravel and turn against each other as they realized the murderer could be among them. Some real Lord of the Flies action, and 2. the detectives FINALLY coming in to interview everyone.


I think, in another like, I would like the job of a detective. BUT I would only want to question people and find clues. I think I just want the judgy, gossipy sides of it all.

This book is good for: fans of slasher movies where Freddy picks people off one by one and you wonder who could be next

I read this book in: 2 days

Good to Knows: Trigger warning for rape and PTSD


"True psychopaths can be very convincing...”




4.2Overall Score

An Unwanted Guest

It's time for my first author battle: that special time where I read two books by the same author and put them head to head against each other. For this first bout, I read "A Stranger in the ...

  • Plot
  • Characters
  • Pacing