Book Reviews

S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett (Spoiler-free) Review

Nine students. Three bloodsports. One deadly weekend.

It is the autumn term and Greer MacDonald is struggling to settle into the sixth form at the exclusive St. Aidan the Great boarding school, known to its privileged pupils as S.T.A.G.S. Just when she despairs of making friends Greer receives a mysterious invitation with three words embossed upon on it: huntin’ shootin’ fishin’. When Greer learns that the invitation is to spend the half term weekend at the country manor of Henry de Warlencourt, the most popular and wealthy boy at S.T.A.G.S., she is as surprised as she is flattered.

But when Greer joins the other chosen few at the ancient and sprawling Longcross Hall, she realizes that Henry’s parents are not at home; the only adults present are a cohort of eerily compliant servants. The students are at the mercy of their capricious host, and, over the next three days, as the three bloodsports – hunting, shooting, and fishing – become increasingly dark and twisted, Greer comes to the horrifying realization that those being hunted are not wild game, but the very misfits Henry has brought with him from school…

STAGS a.k.a. St. Aiden the Great school is a boarding school for the wealthy. Most who go there fit in. Not Greer. She gets into STAGS on a scholarship. This leads her to not fitting in with the rich crowd. She is ignored for most of her time being there, even by her own roommate. One day she receives an invitation to the most popular boy’s house for a weekend of “huntin’, shootin’ and fishin'”. Of course, after being ignored all year, she is super excited and automatically wants to go. That is until she gets a warning from another student not to go. She brushes off the warning and of course goes. This is where the action starts.

While I did enjoy STAGS, I did have some issues with it. First off, the pacing was really, really slow. It took a really long time for much of anything to happen. I can’t say I was bored though. I don’t always mind a slow pace.

My second issue with this book was the lack of tension. STAGS was being marketed as a thriller and a mystery and I just don’t agree with that. We were let in on information in the very first chapter that I would have liked to figure out as a reader rather than have been told. I really think this made the book less exciting. I really like books that have mystery and the tension builds as we as the reader work to figure out what is going on. This book lacked both mysteriousness and tension.

What I did like about this book was the array of characters. We have the Medievals who are a group of elite students. Everyone wants to be them. They are the ones who throw this weekend getaway for the misfits of the school. I really liked each of these individual characters. They each had their own personalities. I also really enjoyed how the misfits came together at the end and retained a friendship for what they had been through at that fateful weekend getaway.

Overall, this was an entertaining read with pretty great characters. I enjoyed the medieval aspect of the book as well. I just can’t say I like this book for the mystery thriller it is being marketed as. Would I recommend this book? Yes, as long as you know going in that it is more on the entertaining side than the thriller/mystery side. I am giving this book a rating of 3 out of 5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and M.A. Bennett for providing me with an advanced copy in return for an honest review.



44 thoughts on “S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett (Spoiler-free) Review

      1. I came down here to say the same thing. That’s why I low starred this one. Had it been promoted differently (like just a boarding school book or something) maybe it wouldn’t have bothered me. But when you pump it up to be a big twisted thriller and then give all the details away in the first chapter, I’m not sure why we were supposed to be shocked in the end.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. And then after low-starring it, you see all these positive reviews, and hear it was picked up for a TV show that The Hunger Games writer is involved in and you start to doubt yourself. lol. I’m sure for the TV show they’ll probably leave some of the details out in advance and it’ll be great. That’s ultimately what’s so frustrating about this. The story could have been great had we been kept in the dark like the characters. But you can’t doubt anything when you already know the truth up front.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I can not tell you how many times I have read a book expecting a thriller and it ends up being such a small part of the story. I think that is fine but just don’t market it that way! It still sounds like a really entertaining book, no need to trick readers in to thinking it is something it is not! Anyway, awesome review!

    Liked by 2 people

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