Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Review - - The Seaside Library

The Seaside Library: A Novel
by Brenda Novak
Publisher: MIRA
Release Date: April 11, 2023
Reviewed by PJ

There are secrets that bring friends together, and others that drive them apart…

Mariners Island is barely ten miles long, but when Ivy, Ariana and Cam were teenagers, it was their whole world. Beyond the pristine beaches and iconic lighthouse lies the beautiful old library that belongs to Ivy’s family. While that bound Ivy to the island as an adult, Ariana could not leave Mariners behind fast enough. The town holds too many…
memories. Not only her unrequited feelings for Cam, but the tragedy that left a scar on the community.

When a young girl went missing, a teenage Cam was unthinkably the prime suspect. Ariana and Ivy knew he couldn’t have hurt anyone, and they promised to protect him—even if it meant lying on his behalf.

Now, twenty years later, Ariana returns to Mariners just as new evidence emerges on the case, calling into question everything the three friends thought they knew—and everyone they thought they could trust. What really happened that night? Over the course of one eventful summer, Ariana, Ivy and Cam will learn the truth—about their pasts, their futures and the ties that still bind them as closely as the pages of a book…

PJ's Thoughts:

After reading that blurb, I couldn't dig into this book fast enough. Brenda Novak has always been able to spin a good story and the ones filled with suspense always draw me in. 

What would you be willing to do to protect a friend? That's the question Novak explores in this book about three friends, a tragic event of two decades past, and the consequences decisions made then have on each of their lives today. I enjoyed the shifting dynamics among Ivy, Ariana, and Cam. Things were bound to be a bit awkward after losing touch over the years of separation or, in Cam's case, breaking off contact due to his jealous wife but the discovery of a body and the resurrection of the murder case from that summer long ago have intensified the swirling emotions - and doubts - among the recently reunited best friends. It's an interesting exploration of the ebb and flow of friendships as well as secrets, lies, and the weight they place on one's conscience. 

The mystery of what actually happened that fateful night is tightly constructed and filled with surprising twists and turns, playing out with subtle clues effectively placed throughout the book. I was sure I knew who the murderer wasn't but it took me a while to discover who it was. Though even figuring out the identity of the murderer before the reveal didn't lessen my eagerness to find out how it all would play out. I was not disappointed.

There's also a romantic thread in the story that significantly impacts the dynamics of the three friends. Though it's secondary to the mystery, it's important to actions the friends take. It offers a happily ever after but I wasn't as emotionally invested in the romantic couple as I wanted to be - for reasons - including the fact that I was more emotionally attached to the character who became the third wheel. Others may have different feelings. I will say though that by the time the epilogue (a year later) rolled around I was able to be happy with the couple's HEA and satisfied with where life had taken all three of the friends. 

If you enjoy a blend of women's fiction and twisty suspense with strong threads of friendship, coming home, and friends-to-lovers romance, add The Seaside Library to your summer reading list. 


  1. You got me. Last sentence in the review grabbed me.

  2. Sounds like a page turner - thanks.

  3. Sounds like a fun summer read!

  4. It's been some time since I read a Brenda Novak book, and you have reminded me that I have missed something. I am a fan of mysteries, so this is right up my alley. Thanks for the review.

  5. Sounds very good thank you for the review, Penney

  6. I have never been disappointed by a Brenda Novak book. I enjoy suspense in the books I read and often prefer it to be the main thread in the story. The friendship, romance and other dynamics usually all serve to support and build that suspense thread. This sounds like another one to add to my Want To Read List.