The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan

September 8th, 2016 Kimberly Review 59 Comments

8th Sep
The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan
The Perfect Girl
by Gilly Macmillan
Genres: Thriller
Source: Publisher
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Zoe Maisey is a seventeen-year-old musical prodigy with a genius IQ. Three years ago, she was involved in a tragic incident that left three classmates dead. She served her time, and now her mother, Maria, is resolved to keep that devastating fact tucked far away from their new beginning, hiding the past even from her new husband and demanding Zoe do the same.

Tonight Zoe is giving a recital that Maria has been planning for months. It needs to be the performance of her life. But instead, by the end of the evening, Maria is dead.
In the aftermath, everyone—police, family, Zoe's former solicitor, and Zoe herself—tries to piece together what happened. But as Zoe knows all too well, the truth is rarely straightforward, and the closer we are to someone, the less we may see.

Unfolding over a span of twenty-four hours through three compelling narratives, The Perfect Girl is gripping, surprising, and emotionally complex—a richly layered look at loyalty, second chances, and the way secrets unravel us all.


Lately thrillers have called me to read them, and The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan drew me in with its promise of gripping thriller and secrets. Fast paced, with different narratives I easily devoured The Perfect Girl in two sittings.

This was my first read by Macmillan who also penned What She Knew and Burnt Paper Sky. Told mostly from Zoe’s perspective we also get separate narratives from other characters sharing their lives, pasts, and the events that unfold. The timeline of the story takes place over a twenty-four hour period and the author brilliantly allowed the reader to become close to the characters.

Zoe Maise is a seventeen-year-old musical prodigy with a genius IQ and troubled past. Zoe attended an exclusive music school where she was bullied before becoming involved in an auto accident that left three of classmates dead. The events and fall out ruined her parents’ marriage. Now three years after the event, Zoe’s mother is remarried and they have moved away to live with her step dad and new brother Lucas. Zoe has a new baby sister named Grace and life is looking hopefully. We meet Zoe on the verge of a new beginning -a butterfly just emerging from her cocoon.

Macmillan delivers an engaging tale with beautiful prose that set the ominous tone. Through multiple narratives, she slowly begins to expose cracks, and secrets. She shares the catalysts for the events that unfold. I would say the first fifty percent deal with the evening’s events up until the body is found.  It also shed light into Zoe’s tragic past, Aunt Tessa’s marriage and the new family’s secrets. The second half was clever, and twisted as we discover what happened and whodunit.

None of these characters are truly likeable, in fact, some you will down right loath. However, Macmillan did an excellent job of peeling back their layers while creating suspicion. Red herrings, twists and reveals all made for a compelling and addictive read.

I did figure out the whodunit aspect in The Perfect Girl, but loved the twist and will definitely be reading this author again. If you are looking for a good fall thriller, The Perfect Girl is an excellent place to start.

*The Perfect Girl was originally titled, and released with a UK publishing house as Butterfly in the Dark. I case you’re curious about all the passages regarding butterflies.

[bctt tweet=”A good fall thriller, The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan” username=”kimbacaffeinate”]

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

59 Responses to “The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan”

  1. Blessie (Mischievous Reads)

    Hateful characters but would still make you want to finish the book? SIGN ME UP. I’m definitely looking for a few thrillers for this Fall season and this is just perfect. Wonderful review, as always!

  2. Deborah

    I enjoyed this one as well Kimberly! Have you read You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott? It was kinda similar. Kinda. And I enjoyed it as well.

  3. AngelErin

    Great review! I’m glad you enjoyed this one, even though it wasn’t perfect. I’ve never read anything by this author either, but I’m reading this book next! I’ve been in the mood for thrillers as well so I can’t wait to start it. 😀

  4. Lorna

    I’ve not heard of this book or author but I think the premise sounds pretty fascinating except for loathing the characters. I have to be able to like at least somebody. At least I think I do. Glad this was a good read even though you figured out the whodunit part 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      No, because this takes place over 24 hours, I honestly don’t think the author wants you to like these characters…all are a little off…and suspects 🙂

  5. Katherine

    This sounds good! I’ve been reaching for thrillers more and more lately and have been wanting to try Macmillian. If the book is compelling enough I’m okay with not liking the characters and it sounds like this one is a fantastic read!

  6. Sophia Rose

    Interesting how the author writes this thriller. I love the idea of a slow mover with some big twists to it. Thanks for sharing about this one!

  7. Heidi

    I was really getting into thrillers again this spring before everything that happened, and I hope to again as they are fun, but I am still doing light and fluffy for awhile. I will keep this in mind though.

  8. Jonetta (Ejaygirl)

    So happy to see this review, Kim! I listened to What She Knew and really enjoyed it so I was considering this title. It sounds like my kind of book. Great review!

  9. Deborah Haupt

    Loved you review Kim I can always count on your words to ket me know exactly where a reader stands without revealing too much. I love thrillers too but sometimes they leave me unsettled so I have to be in the right frame of mind to read them. I still have Normal on my pile, I really want to read it but I just can’t bring myself to do it yet. I’m afraid this one would also fall under that category, but it is on my wish list cause you never know when the mood will strike me. 🙂

  10. Jenny

    Oooo this sounds good! Normally unlikable characters are red flags for me, but in the case of mysteries and thrillers, I quite enjoy them. And now I really want to know what the twist is:)

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Yeah, in thrillers I don’t mind unlikable characters. I think it kind of throws you because you are entirely sure what they are capable of.

  11. Becca

    I got an ARC of this, and am really excited to start it after I finish As I Descended! I loved What She Knew.

  12. kindlemom1

    I’ve been on a thriller kick lately as well so I completely understand. There is just something about this time of year that screams thriller! 😉

    Wonderful review Kim!

  13. Bookworm Brandee

    It’s hard reading a book with characters you loathe. Gone Girl was that way for me. But I like the sound of all the twists thrown in and it does seem as if the characters are well done, even if I might not like them. I’d not heard of Macmillan but I think I’ll be checking her out. 🙂

  14. Silvia

    Sounds like the author did a good job with the characters, and I’m intrigued by the story. Yep, another thriller I should add to my list, thanks Kimberly! 😉

  15. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    I’d read this for the beautiful prose alone, but I have my doubts about the multiple perspectives. That rarely works for me. Overall, I do like the sound of it, even if you guessed the culprit.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      You have to keep in mind this all takes place over 24 hours. So those additional perspectives really helped with trying to figure out what happened.

  16. Naomi Hop

    Ahhh… characters that you may loath! IT means the author has done a good job of drawing you into the world and you FEEL that about characters. Sounds like an interesting read!