reviewed by Pam Guynn
Amanda Jayatissa has given readers a multi-layered mystery in her latest novel, You’re Invited. Set almost entirely in Colombo, Sri Lanka, culture and family play large roles in this story.
Amaya Bloom is invited to Kaavi Fonseka’s wedding in Sri Lanka. Kaavi and Amaya were best friends during childhood and college, but their relationship was broken five years ago. When Amaya learns that the groom is Matthew Spencer (Spence), her own ex-boyfriend, she is determined to stop the wedding. During the wedding celebration week, rumors surface about Amaya and when Kaavi goes missing, everything points to Amaya. However, secrets abound. Who is behind Kaavi’s disappearance? Will Kaavi get her happily ever after or is she dead or kidnapped?
Many of the characters in this story were hard to like. Amaya was an unreliable narrator who felt broken, but somehow determined to stop the wedding. Kaavi felt privileged and occasionally curt to others, but when focused on her charity and her social media content she came across as caring, strong, and independent. Others perceive Spencer to be caring, helpful, and charismatic. These dynamic characters transformed during the course of the story as various events unfolded.
The tale goes back and forth in time from the day of the wedding to three months earlier and several times in-between, especially the week of the wedding. The points of view switch between Amaya and Kaavi as well as transcripts of interviews with various guests on the day of the wedding. This adversely affected the flow for me, but the suspense and the cultural lifestyles and traditions information helped overcome this.
With twists and turns, the story builds momentum with emotionally rich characters, unpredictable moments, a deeply involved plot, and a setting that was new to me. It has plenty of suspense and a little action, but the intensity is what kept me fully engaged. The internal dialogues of Amaya deepened this intensity.
This novel is somewhat unsettling and has many threads woven into the plot. Readers should be aware that besides the bride’s disappearance and presumed demise, there is a focus on family, friendship, how well you know others, control of one’s life, belief in astrology, self-harm, a fixation with lucky numbers, and much more.
Overall, this was an intense novel with suspense and uncertainty. This story felt very realistic and like it could occur. Everyone had agendas and the final reveal had a surprise that I didn’t see coming.
Berkley Publishing Group and Amanda Jayatissa provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. This is my honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for August 09, 2022.
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