31 Days of Spooky Reads: Pretty Things

Surprising page-turner about mother-daughter grifters, family drama, thriller, murder, and revenge.


  • Want a page-turner
  • In the mood for a non-typical thriller
  • Like family drama

TitlePretty Things | Author: Janelle Brown | Rating: 3.5/5

What a page-turner. I didn’t know what to expect from this book but it delivered more than I would have imagined. It’s not necessarily the best thriller out there (I’m far too partial to Ruth Ware), but it’s a damn good one.

Nina once bought into the idea that her fancy liberal arts degree would lead to a fulfilling career. When that dream crashed, she turned to stealing from rich kids in L.A. alongside her wily Irish boyfriend, Lachlan. Nina learned from the best: Her mother was the original con artist, hustling to give her daughter a decent childhood despite their wayward life. But when her mom gets sick, Nina puts everything on the line to help her, even if it means running her most audacious, dangerous scam yet.

The melding of Nina’s past and present, her younger and older visions of her mother, are so well done. It left me seesawing at times between frustration for the characters and concern for their safety.

Vanessa is a privileged young heiress who wanted to make her mark in the world. Instead she becomes an Instagram influencer—traveling the globe, receiving free clothes and products, and posing for pictures in exotic locales. But behind the covetable façade is a life marked by tragedy. After a broken engagement, Vanessa retreats to her family’s sprawling mountain estate, Stonehaven: a mansion of dark secrets not just from Vanessa’s past, but from that of a lost and troubled girl named Nina.

Nina and Vanessa converge oh-so-perfectly. What I loved was that we got two perspectives: Nina’s and Vanessa’s. I didn’t necessarily like how conversations were repeated between views, but I enjoyed seeing the two views of the same event. It made it so juicy, so compelling, and had me turning the pages. I loved how the characters played off each other and each was planning their own revenge.

I expected this book to be more of a heist book, especially considering how the story started off. It unfortunately wasn’t so much heist as it was drama and thriller, but that didn’t take away from it. I will say that the storyline was attention-grabbing but not necessarily unique, but the writing itself was compelling.

I didn’t like the ending, however, as I thought it was too cliche, too saccharine, and didn’t match the characters. Towards the ending, I thought the book devolved into cliche scenes, and the characters switched alliances in a predictable way. If the last 1/4 of the book were as creative as the first 3/4, I’d have a new favorite thriller.

2 thoughts on “31 Days of Spooky Reads: Pretty Things

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.