One of my new favorites!!? ft. found family, gay angst, and obsession:: If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

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Enter the players. There were seven of us then, seven bright young things with wide precious futures ahead of us. Until that year, we saw no further than the books in front of our faces.

On the day Oliver Marks is released from jail, the man who put him there is waiting at the door. Detective Colborne wants to know the truth, and after ten years, Oliver is finally ready to tell it.

Ten years ago: Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, a place of keen ambition and fierce competition. In this secluded world of firelight and leather-bound books, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extra. But in their fourth and final year, the balance of power begins to shift, good-natured rivalries turn ugly, and on opening night real violence invades the students’ world of make believe. In the morning, the fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy, and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, each other, and themselves that they are innocent.

“For us, everything was a performance. Everything poetic.”


I wish with my entire heart that I could belong to a secret society where we communicate solely through pretentious Shakespeare quotes; a university where most people are too sober to deal with our shit. I WOULD SIMPLY THRIVE?? DESPITE MY FRIENDS’ WICKED WAYS.

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The main theme throughout this book = me thinking:::: “wtf Richard?”

The second main theme = It’s a sin to merely “like” something. In this book, you have to be obsessed to the point of destruction. Which I RESPECT. AND LOVE SO MUCH. i’m literally crying and i refuse to leave my room for at least a month.

I read the audiobook for this (which was recorded gorgeously) and now my only goal in life is to get the physical copy and slowly reread every single chapter.Every single human emotion is in my heart RIGHT NOWWW and I feel cold tingles all over. OLIVER??? JAMES??? ALL OF THIS INTENSE FRIENDSHIP FALLING LIKE MY FEELINGS IN CONFETTI FORM???



This book was so damn beautiful and I’m 100% obsessed with it.

Not only the characters, but the university they go to. Dellecher Classical Conservatory is my dream college, I want to go to lectures where we drink tea and are all but encouraged to do human sacrifice in the name of poetry. Also, my fellow students and I will have normal conversations using Shakespearean lines.

This story features seven friends who are like siblings, the best actors at their elite performing arts school. They all are so obsessed with Shakespeare and one another, that when *murder* inevitably happens, no one is surprised at all. In fact, I’m pretty sure they’re all giddy with their malicious thoughts.

We get to see the characters as dreamy and passionate 22-year-olds, then disillusioned and broken adults in their thirties. The intense friendship that these fluffy kids feel for one another affects their very DNA.  And it’s up to Oliver to tell the story of *what really happened that night* when their found family slowly and savagely fell apart. 

/////OH GOD, THEY DESERVE EVERYTHING THEIR FANATIC HEARTS CAN WANT.///////  Moving forward, the pretentious-college-students-with-gay-hearts-and-homicidal-tendencies genre is something I will connect with at a spiritual level. I was hooked to every twist and turn that occurred. I was pretty much constantly shocked and it was unhealthy. 

but i’m a horrible person and I must encourage you to read this slkfdlkjsd



My absolute favorite thing is the relationship between James and Oliver. They are best friends & they’re infatuated with one another. It’s clear that they’re in love and that their love for one another is vast and deep. It’s like something more than platonic intimacy or sexual attraction; at one point Oliver says his feelings and obsession with James are without gender.

I love relationships like that, where the connection is nearly impossible to define or sever. especially when it happens between two maple syrup puffs.


The only complaint I have is the ending. I hate it when endings are left to interpretation. Or maybe the ending is clear and I’m astonishingly dumb c: c: Open endings should rot eternally in a cold, sterile dungeon that is infested with demons.

istg, my interpretation needs to be canon or I will do something drastic. Like go on strike, with all the drama of Handsome Squidward, on the steps of Dellecher Classical Conservatory, (meanwhile, as I thirst for James)



In sum, this book deserves awards and fans and Tumblr art immediately. I’ve never read The Secret History but the vibes seem so similar????

I want to absorb TSH into my brain and thoroughly compare them

Rating: 5/5 stars

TW: death, murder, physical abuse, slut shaming, drug overdose, suicide, self-harm, and mention of an eating disorder

Buy With:

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Do you love or hate pretentious characters?

 What about open endings?

What is your favorite Shakespeare play?

*all images from tumblr c: 




32 thoughts on “One of my new favorites!!? ft. found family, gay angst, and obsession:: If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

  1. Destiny @ Howling Libraries says:

    “It’s a sin to merely “like” something. In this book, you have to be obsessed to the point of destruction.”

    WOW call me out why don’t you ;_;

    But this sounds amazing and I’m so glad you loved it! I’ve had it sitting on my shelf way too long and keep forgetting to read it. I need to fix that ASAP!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ellyn says:

    Okay, this sounds straight up AMAZING and I need to read it immediately. I just put this on hold at the library so I’m hoping to read it next month. I loved your review, Malanie as always you’ve convinced me to read something new!
    Also, a secret society that communicates through pretentious Shakespeare quotes??? How have I never heard of this book before????

    Liked by 1 person

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