ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – The Villa by Ruth Kelly

The Villa by Ruth Kelly is published by Pan Macmillan and is out now in paperback, ebook and audiobook. My thanks to Chloe Davies for the proof copy.

A Villa in Paradise

It’s destined to be the ultimate reality TV show. Ten contestants. A luxurious villa on a private island. Every moment streamed live to a global audience who have total control over those competing for the cash prize.

A Journalist Undercover

Reporter Laura is told to get the inside scoop on her fellow contestants. But once the games begin, she soon finds herself at the mercy of a ruthless producer willing to do anything to increase viewer numbers.

A Reality Show to Die For

There is more to every contestant than meets the eye, including Laura. They all have secrets they’d like to keep buried, and the pressure in paradise quickly reaches boiling point. How far will the contestants go to secure audience votes? And would somebody really kill to win?

One reality show set in a villa on a sun-soaked island. Nobody knows where, not even the ten contestants. The twist is that this is not a mainstream TV show but one which is streamed live on the internet to an audience who call all the shots. To be honest, I can’t imagine anything worse. I’ve never watched Love Island but I imagine The Villa to be like an extreme version of it with very little in the way of safety measures for those taking part.

Laura is a reporter whose boss gets her an audition for the show so she can get an inside scoop. This means pretending she is somebody else, a dangerous game to play, especially as the makers of the programme seem to have very little in the way of scruples. It’s difficult to like the contestants who are, understandably I suppose, in it for themselves. Laura is perhaps the best of the bunch and I couldn’t help but feel she stuck out like a sore thumb amongst some of the other rather more vacuous contenders.

I was gripped by this book from the off and the scenes in the villa had me turning the pages apace. Interspersed with the goings-on in the Villa are sections from later featuring the producer, and sections showing the reactions of some of the viewers. The whole set up of this book worked so well and the viewers in particular showed just how much we get whipped into a frenzy these days by voyeurism and the downfall of other people.

I thought this was a fantastic debut novel from Ruth Kelly. She writes with experience from her work for Endemol who created Big Brother and it shows as there’s a strong sense of knowledge and understanding of the reality show set-up. I was cringing through much of the time in the villa because of the behaviour of the contestants. Each to their own, I suppose, but one thing is for sure: if The Villa was a real-life show you wouldn’t see me anywhere near it. As for The Villa: the book – well that comes highly recommended by me as a fast-paced and exciting psychological thriller.

Ruth Kelly is an award-winning journalist who has ghosted a string of Sunday Times top ten bestsellers – most recently The Prison Doctor, which sold over 250,000 copies, and The Governor, which went straight in at number one on the Amazon charts and number five in the Sunday Times bestseller list. The Villa is Ruth’s debut thriller. She’s drawn inspiration from her years working as a reporter for national newspapers as well as her experience writing for TV shows, most notably with Endemol, the creators of the original reality show – Big Brother.

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