The Secret History By Donna Tartt // "The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation."
This book is mesmerising. I was hooked from the first page and completely submersed myself into the world of our narrator Richard Papen and his experience as a new student at Hampden College. Richard joins an Ancient Greek class alongside a very small collection of students who are aloof and cold with the rest of the college. Whilst initially excited with his new group of friends, Richard has no idea of the secret world of drugs, alcohol and murder that he is about to be thrust into.
The book begins with a murder but the reader soon realises - this is not a Who-dunnit, but more of a Why-dunnit. You know from the very first page that the narrator and his friends will kill someone during the course of the story - you even know who the victim is and how he dies. But that didn't stop me from reading this book as fast as I could, trying to absorb every word.
I read some reviews online which argue that 'nothing much happens', however I believe, despite the relative simplicity of the overall plot, Tartt has managed to create an engaging and unpredictable story, filled with intriguing and endering characters - I could picture each person vividly in my head and I found myself really caring for some, whilst loathing others. I found myself thinking about this book and its plot when I wasn't reading it and that's always a sign of a great read.
The novel is long and dense at times, but incredibly worth it. I did experience slow moments where there was little 'drama' but I still enjoyed reading about the characters that I didn't seem to mind this - the plot would soon pick up pace quite rapidly and I'd find myself unable to put the book down - cheesy but true.
This novel won't be everyone's cup of tea - there are large sections about Ancient Greek which may be quite heavy going for some readers, but that didn't distract me or slow me down. I did find the second half a little bit slower but I was still completely dedicated to finishing and enjoyed it. The plot took some mysterious, odd and very unusual twists and turns which kept me thinking throughout. The Secret History has secured a place in my 'top favourite books' and I encourage everyone to pick up a copy and commit - enjoy!