The Fifth Letter [review]

Title: The Fifth Letter
Author: Nicola Moriarty
Publisher: Penguin UK – Michael Joseph


A fun vacation game turns destructive, exposing dark secrets, deeply buried grudges, and a shocking betrayal in Nicola Moriarity’s intriguing debut.
Four friends . . .
Joni, Deb, Eden, and Trina have been best friends since high school, sharing a bond that has seen them through their teenage years and into adulthood. But now, time and circumstance is starting to pull them apart as careers, husbands, and babies get in the way. As their yearly vacation becomes less of a priority—at least for three of the women—how can Joni find a way to draw the four of them back together?
Four secrets . . .
During a laughter and wine-filled night, the women dare one another to write anonymous letters, spilling their deepest, darkest secrets. But the fun game turns devastating, exposing cracks in their lives and the friendships they share. Each letter is a dark confession revealing shocking information. A troubled marriage? A substance abuse problem? A secret pregnancy? A heartbreaking diagnosis?
Five letters . . .
Late on one of their last nights together, after the other three have gone to bed, Joni notices something in the fireplace—a burnt, crumpled, nearly destroyed, sheet of paper that holds the most shattering revelation of all. It is a fifth letter—a hate-filled rant that exposes a vicious, deeply hidden grudge that has festered for decades. But who wrote it? Which one of them has seethed with resentment all these years? What should Joni do?
Best friends are supposed to keep your darkest secrets. But the revelations Joni, Deb, Eden and Trina have shared will ripple through their lives with unforeseen consequences . . . and things will never be the same.

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[My Review]

The Fifth Letter is a fun, easy read that has its fair share of twists to keep you entertained.
The story has a strong theme of ‘mystery’ running through it, as Joni recounts to a priest what happened on her and her friends’ annual holiday together. The story also addresses themes of friendship, relationships and family life, as well as the effects of secrets on the secret keeper and their friends. The premise of the book is really interesting and I was intrigued as to who had written each letter, and who was lying.
I have to say that the characters really irritated me; from pretty much page one I found the way they spoke, interacted (the dialogue often felt unconvincing and a little over the top) and just generally behaved all quite annoying, and not particularly convincing. I know everyone is different around their friends, but it just didn’t ring true for me, and I didn’t feel like I could identify with, or warm to, any of the characters.
I didn’t expect there to be so many twists, but it really does deliver on this – there are surprises and secrets revealed throughout, along with each character as they deal with their own problems and issues.
The story is a light-hearted (though there are some more serious undertones to the story too, which give it a bit more of an edge) read; I think I just expected a bit more from it. It’s well worth reading if you fancy an easy and enjoyable read, though, and I would still give future novels from Nicola Moriarty a go.

[Rating: 3/5]

Many thanks to Penguin – Michael Joseph for providing a copy of this novel for review!

The Fifth Letter is released in the UK on 24 January.



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