June 5, 2023

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

Sian Gilbert’s She Started It- Good Luck Putting It Down Till You Finish It

She Started It By Sian Gilbert- Summary

The party of a lifetime is nothing like what they expected… Endlessly twisty, sharply observant, and deliciously catty, Sian Gilbert’s She Started It is sure to shock readers until the very end.

Annabel, Esther, Tanya, and Chloe are best friends—or were, as children. Despite drifting apart in adulthood, shared secrets have kept them bonded for better or worse, even as their childhood dreams haven’t entirely turned out as they’d hoped. Then one day, they receive a wholly unexpected—but not entirely unwelcome—invitation from another old friend. Poppy Greer has invited them all to her extravagant bachelorette party: a first-class plane ticket to three days of white sand, cocktails, and relaxation on a luxe private island in the Bahamas.

None of them has spoken to Poppy in years. But Poppy’s Instagram pics show that the girl they used to consider the weakest link in their group has definitely made good—and made money. Curiosity gets the better of them. Besides, who can turn down a posh all-expenses-paid vacation on a Caribbean island?

The first-class flight and the island’s accommodations are just as opulent as expected…even if the scenic island proves more remote than they’d anticipated. Quite remote, in fact, with no cell service and no other guests. The women quickly discover they’ve underestimated Poppy and each other. As their darkest secrets are revealed, the tropical adventure morphs into a terrifying nightmare.

She Started It By Sian Gilbert- Review

Whether it is Samantha Downing’s He Started It or Sian Gilbert’s She Started It? You are going to want to finish it. She Started It has all the markings of a disappointing destination thriller. However, Gilbert has surprise after surprise to transform a trend thriller into the perfect beach read. Is this going to be hard without spoiling anything? Yes. But trust me. I got you.

Poppy is the unpopular kid from school that has now done very well for herself. Contrary to shoving it in everyone’s face, she wants to share her good fortune with those that tortured her most. Maybe the best revenge is served.. in kindness. Or, it is a dark trap that Annabel, Esther, Tanya, and Chloe should have thrown in the trash. But who can refuse first-class tickets to a private island? Certainly, not them. And maybe, that is part of the point.

Does Poppy really want to share her good fortune or check in with her old bullies to see if they’ve changed their ways? Either way, everyone will find out that none of the five women have any clue, leaving them in heaps of trouble.

She Started It By Sian Gilbert- Writing And Plot

Please, yes, and thank you! Gilbert’s writing style and structure are a stroke of brilliance. Throughout She Started It, we get little ominous drops that are just enough to catch your attention. But meanwhile, they are restrained enough not to give away what is coming. And oh boy, is it coming. The structure of the book starts with these ominous hints. You know, the kind that once the book ends, you smack yourself because it was RIGHT THERE the whole time, giving each twist validity in the plot. But you just couldn’t see it at the time.

Additionally, Gilbert uses technology to drop the hammers one by one. After the women agree to turn in their cellphones for the duration of the trip, getting them back will be… disastrous. One by one, Poppy utilizes their dependence on technology and the journey itself to bring each woman to her knees. How? Yeah. I am not saying. I promised no spoilers.


Read the Book

She Started It By Sian Gilbert- Characters

HA! These bitches are some kind of fun. They are well-executed, unlikeable characters. Not a good apple in the barrel. And that makes them, the plot, and the writing much more entertaining. But, moreover, the thing is? They aren’t just bitches. They are the type of bitch friends that you can’t trust with your shoes, let alone anything else more important. And yet…

The best way for me to show this is by throwing a few non-spoiler quotes at you.

Poppy’s nose job is wonky

Yes, I saw you running this morning. Poppy finishes her OJ with a wink at me that makes me want to punch her.

Chloe, why don’t you help me bring the booze along? Set-up for a little party? ‘Um, Ok’. Chloe, unused to being told what to do rises. Esther, Tanya, and I can’t help but laugh that someone has finally ordered that little diva around, and with such cool non-chalance.

Do you see where I’m going here? Coincidentally none of their lives match THEIR LIVES. In other words, one seems like a social media influencer, one a big-time party planner; another has the perfect marriage- yet no. Yet, that is the life they’ve procured for the eyes of the world. Well. All the world, except Poppy.

Sian Gilbert

Thank you to William Morrow for an advanced copy of She Started It, which releases June 13th

Final Thoughts

First, let’s talk about the island. It has its own character arc from dream destiny to a sinister force of mother nature. Gilbert writes the island into the story like a character, not a setting. So while it is naturally (never forced) into the story, its presence is instantly felt. From the dread of what is too good to be true to mother nature gone wild, nothing about this island didn’t send me.

She Started It reinforced a lesson I’d like to think I learned long ago. If it is too good to be true, run. Also, sun, cocktails, and beautiful blue waters don’t equate to fun. Remember, beauty kills even if beauty surrounds you.



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