For fans of Lucy Foley and Liane Moriarty, She Started It is a hot, twisty summer debut thriller about a group of young women whose Caribbean bachelorette party takes a sinister turn. It’s Lord of the Flies meets And Then There Were None…but with Instagram and too much prosecco.
Poppy Greer has invited Annabel, Chloe, Esther and Tanya 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 hasn’t forgotten what they did to her.
And she’s out for revenge.
As their darkest secrets are revealed, the tropical adventure morphs into a terrifying nightmare.
“I loved this one! I devoured it and honestly couldn’t get enough! This is the PERFECT summer thriller and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves a beach themed murder mystery!” Elle G. Reviewer (NetGalley)
“The perfect book for when your sitting on your porch on a hot night with a cool drink. Just make sure your settled in because you won’t want to put it down! Such fun writing, really well written and full of twist and turns with a “what-the-heck-did-I-just-read” ending!!” Paula H. Reviewer (NetGalley)
“I don’t have to say “I can’t wait to see what this author comes out with next” . I know without one doubt in my mind that I will be purchasing it. Sian Gilbert, you have just turned my world upside down and I just became your biggest fan ♥️” Kori S. Reviewer (NetGalley)
“Sian Gilbert has such a way of writing that makes you feel physically uncomfortable…it is a thrilling slow burn. You know from the very beginning that the girls tormented the bride back in high school, but the book keeps you turning pages, as it slowly reveals what they did exactly, to ruin her life.” Chelsea H. Reviewer (NetGalley)
“I’ve been in an absolute reading rut recently, and this book completely solved it for me—I can’t remember the last time I sped through a book like this. The twists felt fresh and fun, and I loved the emotional undercurrent throughout the book, too, especially when it came to the relationships between the women. I just loved this book. It was so fun and twisty and fresh and it’ll be perfect on thriller shelves.” Librarian 682648 (NetGalley)
Sian Gilbert recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest thriller, SHE STARTED IT.
Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?
It was during the summer of 2021 – my best friend was getting married the following spring, and we were discussing her hen party. I thought how interesting it would be if someone was invited to a hen party for someone they hadn’t spoken to in a long time, and perhaps someone they had unfinished business or some kind of past with. I already love isolation thrillers and any that draw inspiration from And Then There Were None so the idea grew from there! Hen party? Check. Vengeful bride? Check. Remote private island? Now we’re cooking.
A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?
I set out in 2021 to try and become a professional author. Before I had always dreamed of it, but had never written a full length novel. So I wrote one largely as a practise attempt, but knew when finishing it that something wasn’t quite right. It wasn’t a story I wanted to read or tell, it was more of a writing exercise. This story hit me right away as something I knew if I saw it in a book shop, I’d pick it up. I loved the characters early on, these terrible women who did awful things and didn’t care about it, and as I kept writing I realised I was actually enjoying myself. Revising was hard, but I was lucky enough to be selected for Pitch Wars and had E.A. Aymar as my mentor, which made me all the more determined to see it through.
Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?
And Then There Were None was my first big inspiration, but I also love many modern isolation-trope thrillers such as The Hunting Party and The Guest List by Lucy Foley and In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware.
Taylor Swift’s Look What You Made Me Do also *really* fits!
When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?
My book gives everyone a perspective: Annabel, Chloe, Esther, Tanya and Poppy all have POV chapters and we get to see inside their heads. What was most important for me was creating complex female characters, and particularly unlikable female protagonists.
I was bullied, so creating certain aspects of the characters was very easy, especially the emotions that come from it.
In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?
I hope that the emotional heart to the story resonates with them. There is more to this than the bitchery, backstabbing and beaches – but those are obviously a lot of fun!
What can you share about what you’re working on next?
Female protagonists again, but these two definitely don’t know each other. They’ve ended up somewhere at the same time with deadly consequences…
Sian Gilbert was born in Bristol, United Kingdom. She graduated from the University of Warwick with a degree in history and became a teacher at a Birmingham public high school. She now lives in Cambridge. She Started It is her first novel.