I was slightly nervous to read this novel. Six school friends on the cusp of a new life at university are involved in a tragedy which returns to haunt them years later. It sounds like the 90s slasher film 'I Know What You Did Last Summer'. I shouldn't have doubted myself. The author of 'The Pact' is Sharon Bolton, a writer of immense talent who can take the ingredients of a revenge thriller and turn them into something fresh, exciting and utterly chilling.
Following the tragic incident which changes the young people's lives, you turn the page and it's twenty years later, and this is where Bolton flexes her writing muscles. She doesn't give us grown-up versions of the same characters, they're completely different, changed by their lifestyles, their experiences, their pasts. The reader is introduced, once more, to these people as if seeing them afresh, making 'The Pact' a multi-layered and nuanced read.
As Megan returns to the group, broken by her experiences in prison, you feel for her and the lack of support she has been given by her so-called friends over the past two decades. As the plot moves on, your allegiances change to the survivors, wishing Megan would just leave them alone, but then your loyalties go back to Megan. There is a hint of something darker at play here, and Bolton wastes no time in ramping up the tension as, one by one, the characters turn on each other, wondering who they can trust, and the reader is right at the centre, as if they're one of the characters themselves.
A wonderfully dark chapter in a pool house with emotions running high and favours no-one should ask for will stay with me for a long time. My jaw was almost on the floor as the details of the pact were laid out. This was a sublime piece of writing and Bolton hit every emotional note.
'The Pact' is a chilling thriller and will set up home in your head long after the final pages. Who can you trust? Who are your real friends? Sharon Bolton is a supremely talented author. Her standalone novels are all completely different. You never know what you're going to get. Only one thing is assured – it's going to be brilliant.