Book Review: A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell

“Maybe loss unhinges me. Maybe grief sets loose some demon that would otherwise stay hidden deep inside me.”

― Darcey Bell, A Simple Favor

Darcey Bell's first suspense book is titled A Simple Favor. Harper released it for the first time on March 21, 2017. The story is narrated via Stephanie, Emily, and Emily's husband, Sean, using the unreliable narrator approach. In January 2016, 20th Century Fox proactively purchased the novel's film rights. The film adaption, which features Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, and Henry Golding, has Paul Feig as its director since June 2017. It was made available on September 14, 2018, in the US.

A Simple Favor is an exceptional psychological thriller story that takes readers on a cunning and unpredictable free-fall trip through betrayals and reversals, twists and turns, secrets and disclosures, love and devotion, murder and retribution. A tense, frightening, and wholly engaging narrative by Darcey Bell expertly builds the suspense and grips you until the very last word.

Synopsis from Goodreads...

It starts with a simple favor—an ordinary kindness mothers do for one another. When her best friend, Emily, asks Stephanie to pick up her son Nicky after school, she happily says yes. Nicky and her son, Miles, are classmates and best friends, and the five-year-olds love being together—just like she and Emily. A widow and stay-at-home mommy blogger living in woodsy suburban Connecticut, Stephanie was lonely until she met Emily, a sophisticated PR executive whose job in Manhattan demands so much of her time.

But Emily doesn’t come back. She doesn’t answer calls or return texts. Stephanie knows something is terribly wrong—Emily would never leave Nicky, no matter what the police say. Terrified, she reaches out to her blog readers for help. She also reaches out to Emily’s husband, the handsome, reticent Sean, offering emotional support. It’s the least she can do for her best friend. Then, she and Sean receive shocking news. Emily is dead. The nightmare of her disappearance is over.

Or is it? Because soon, Stephanie will begin to see that nothing—not friendship, love, or even an ordinary favor—is as simple as it seems.

My reaction to this novel...

I was intrigued when my friend shared a trailer for this book's movie adaptation. I was initially unaware that the movie was based on a book, so when I started looking for the movie, the book turned up in my searches. I was therefore very eager to read it before watching the movie on TV. In the beginning, I found Stephanie, the novel's main character, to seem unflattering. You will be able to tell how unnatural and phony her character is when you read her parts. She constantly gave the readers the impression that it was all about her, which really irked me. It was incredibly annoying how self-centered she seemed to be and it's so aggravating so much so that I don't want to read the parts of her blogging about parenthood.

Anyway, as I read, I became aware of the story's absurdity, which I particularly enjoyed in this book. I unearthed a slew of terrible truths, not just about Emily but, more interestingly, about Stephanie. Even if there are points when I wish the narrative had taken a different course regarding Emily's part, the overall outcome—including how the author ended the book—is still pleasant for me. I'm sure you'll agree with me that the ending is an absolute cliffhanger, leaving you scratching your head because you want to know more and can't get enough of the narrative. But after a while, I understood that it also worked as for the author's luck since readers would constantly speculate as to what would happen to the characters in the book, making it more sensational once the author considered about continuing the plot as the next installment of the book.

Sean did not deserve what happened to him in the novel, thus I felt quite bad for him. I truly want the book to continue because I believe there is no justice for him in this book, and I want to see it in the next installment, a wishful thinking that the author I hope will somehow contemplate after some time. Simply put, I thought this book leaned more toward the dark side. It was both stressful and remarkable at the same time. I admire how the author included all the unexpected turns into the narrative to keep her readers turning the pages. Despite the numerous unfavorable reviews I've read about this book, what I felt after reading it was actually the contrary. The author's twisted mind is incredibly appealing to me. It is exactly what I seek out in a thriller novel.

I haven't seen the movie yet since I had the impression from the trailer that it would be very different from the book. As of right now, I would highly suggest this book to everyone who enjoys reading thrillers and anyone who wants to start doing so. This book will give you the chills and make you want more because of how cruel the tale is.

My Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐(4/5)

“It drives you crazy to find out that you might be wrong about someone. It's hard to understand how you feel.”

Sometimes you have a really close friend and you think you know them, but you'll be surprised when you learn that not everything comes your way and not everything that your friend says is true. It is really disheartening and can leave you feeling angry because you believe you were duped, but after some time, you'll also come to understand that not everyone can share their story, even to those of their closest friends and family. Life is not a clear-cut textbook. Even if you read it carefully, some high-falutin words may be there that, when coupled with other terms, are quite challenging to comprehend. 


Disclaimer: Booksreadbyhannel is not a business website. The opinions expressed here are unbiased and based only on my own feelings and reactions while reading the books I featured here in my blog. My reviews reflect my utmost sincerity. I paid for the books I review here out of my own pocket. Books provided by authors and publishers are otherwise specified.