If We Were Villains - M.L. Rio

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Pros: theater setting, lots of Shakespearean themes, great writing, twists I didn’t see coming

Cons: I don’t know enough about Shakespeare for this to land the way it was meant to, kind of slow, pretentious

TW: death, addiction, murder, suicide, addiction

When I finished If We Were Villains, I immediately went to give it 4 stars. I am amending that now to 3.5, rounded up for good writing. Let’s talk about the story and then we will discuss my rating.

The story starts when Oliver is released from prison after 10 years. Waiting for him at the door is Detective Colborne…the man who put him there, ready to hear the whole story of what really happened at the Dellecher Classical Conservatory so many years ago.

10 years before that, Oliver and his fellow group of actor friends were starting their final year together. Tensions ran high, rivalries turned from harmless to violent and when someone ends up dead, everyone has to put on a brave and convincing face as the detectives try to sort out what happened and who is to blame.

Ok so, what did I like? For starters, I loved the academic setting and the story/characters were really well written and developed. I liked Oliver and a few other folks we meet along the way; I enjoyed getting to know them. What held this book back for me was all of the Shakespeare references and themes that I just did not get. Several times while reading, I thought to myself, “I am definitely not smart enough to fully appreciate this story” and I was right. While that sentiment didn’t necessarily take away from the story… it did kind of keep me from enjoying it. I have been reading long enough to be able to understand when something is good but not for me.

So with that in mind… I appreciated this story, the writing and what the author was trying to do enough to say that it was a good book. For me personally, it was good not great and there’s nothing wrong with that.

If you appreciate dark academia, mystery and have a good bit of knowledge of Shakespearean works I highly recommend this book! If you have a low/non existent knowledge of Shakespearean works, you may still enjoy it so don’t cross it off the list entirely! Also, I enjoyed it on audiobook and it was really well done.

Oh and one final thing to think about… I have never read another book quite like this one. I was setting up the post and it asked me which of my previous reviews I’d like to link under “related posts” and I honestly had nothing. It is a unique reading experience and that is saying something.


Also, please enjoy my GoodReads review and follow me there if you'd like! This review is a great summary of all the things I plan to discuss at length below.



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