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Book covers for Fatal Inheritance and Dangerous Crossing
Book covers for Fatal Inheritance and Dangerous Crossing
Original photo by Nina Popovic
Culture > Entertainment

Rachel Rhys: The Author Who Got Me Through My Summer Reading

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Ottawa chapter.

I love reading all year long, but I find that I enjoy it much more during the summer months. Not only do I have more free time since I’m not studying, but the warmer weather creates the perfect opportunity to sit outside in my garden with a good book. As I’ve gotten through my summer reading pile, there are two books in particular that I really loved; both their settings and intriguing storylines made them the ideal summer reads. 

Fatal Inheritance is set in the summer of 1948; when the main character, Eve, discovers that she has been left a share of a French villa owned by a man she’s never met, she travels to the South of France seeking answers. Who is this man to her and her family? Why has she been put in his will? Throughout the trip, she will learn that the secrets of the dead never get buried in the grave with them. 

Dangerous Crossing follows Lily Shepherd on a five-week trip by boat from England to Australia in the summer of 1939. From meeting new friends onboard to seeing the wonders of the world up close, it really feels like a dream come true. However, the excitement of the voyage quickly disappears when disaster strikes onboard and Lily finds herself a suspect. 

Fatal Inheritance and Dangerous Crossing are obviously sister novels in many ways: they’re written by the same author, Rachel Rhys; both have a very intriguing female protagonist who goes through a significant character arc; they’re set in the summertime during the same time period, only ten years apart; and they are both successful in whisking the reader away to the world of the wealthy, where there is tension, mystery, and intrigue at every corner. These books were the perfect hyper-fixation during the summer—instead of thinking about how I was in my backyard in Ottawa (or in my bed, where I often found myself reading at night), I could imagine I was living my best European summer in the South of France or on a cruise travelling along the coast of Egypt, working out the clues to a riddle that had been left in my lap. Both of them were impossible to put down because they were chock-full of suspenseful storylines that kept me on the edge of my seat. 

Of course, every book has its downsides, and this wouldn’t be as insightful of a review if we didn’t talk about them. The challenge with writing an enticing book is keeping the reader engaged. Although Fatal Inheritance kept me wanting to know more, there were also some redundant plot points. A few characters were quite compelling and had the potential to enrich the story, but did not end up contributing anything meaningful to the book. For example, Gloria Adams, the American film star; her appearances were few and far between, which made a lot of her scenes read like filler, despite the fact that she was preparing for a lavish wedding to a famous film producer.

While I couldn’t put Dangerous Crossing down, it was very slow-paced. You are introduced to all of the key characters at once in the first few pages and the plot immediately hits the ground running, before it slows down to a snail’s pace. The climax didn’t come until the last thirty pages of the book; even though there were many smaller reveals which would eventually form the basis of the climax scattered throughout, you really had to read through many chapters to understand how they contributed to the overall plot of the book. In my personal opinion, they were enough to make me not want to put the book down, but it doesn’t seem to be a particular style that would be enjoyable to everyone.

Overall, I really enjoyed both books despite some of their flaws. They were perfect to read during the summer and they really kept my love for reading alive through to the end of the season, which has now made me excited to keep up my streak during the fall as well. 

Nina Popovic is a fourth-year student majoring in Conflict Studies and Human Rights, and minoring in Communications at the University of Ottawa.