Review copy was received from Author. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
What Happened on Box Hill by Elizabeth Gilliland
on February 1, 2022
What would happen if you combined all of Jane Austen’s characters into one modern-day novel?
Murder, of course.
When Caty Morland’s roommate, Isabella, falls to her death on Initiation night, Austen University is quick to cover up the scandal and call it a tragic accident. But avid true-crime lover Caty remains convinced that Isabella didn’t fall; she was murdered. With the help of Pi Kappa Sigma President Emma Woodhouse, Caty organizes a dinner party with the most likely suspects, including familiar faces such as Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet, Knightley, and Marianne Dashwood. The theme of the night is murder, and Caty has three courses to find out what happened to Isabella--and to try to keep the killer from striking again.
Brought together because of murder, familiar Jane Austen figures in up-to-the-minute guises people, an entertaining plot which left me excited to grab it up and read.
What Happened on Box Hill is told from college freshman, Caty Morland’s point of view as she is determined to get to the bottom of her relatively new best friend, roommate, and fellow sorority sister’s untimely and suspicious death. With the help of sorority president, Emma Woodhouse, they assemble all Caty’s suspects for a dinner invitation and Caty is prepared to unmask the killer. Even she had no idea what she was putting together and the night reveals plenty of startling secrets and only in the end, a killer.
I enjoyed seeing what the author did with Austen’s characters in a 21st century setting and it was fun to see characters from all the novels interacting, but I admit it was a challenge following the plot, as it zigzagged between past and present timelines, social media posts and interview notes, and more.
I was delighted that Caty Morland was portrayed spot on with Austen’s original character as the eager investigator who jumped to conclusions and made a few bad leaps of logic, but still arrived there in the end. She got people to give up what they knew even if it was to eliminate themselves from her suspicions.
There were some hilarious moments between the characters and even fun choices as to how they were drawn, but, I’ll admit, a few character sketches left me mildly disappointed. We all have our opinions about Austen’s characters so that does not surprise me. I was pleased they were written well and believable as college students in their thoughts, actions, and dialogue.
As to the mystery, I was a confused a few times when the plot didn’t seem as crisp, but I had the general gist so this didn’t affect my overall enjoyment. I figured out a great deal ahead of Caty and even had my finger on part of the solution. However, I still had a good time seeing the group led by Caty making their way to the answers.
All in all it was highly entertaining and I will definitely look forward to what comes next in the series. Those who enjoy contemporary retellings of Austen will most appreciate this one, but I think general cozy mystery lovers would have a good time with it, too.