by M. A. Bennett

Pages: 290
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: August 1st 2017
Received From: Hot Key Books

Nine students. Three bloodsports. One deadly weekend.
It is the autumn term and Greer MacDonald is struggling to settle into the sixth form at the exclusive St. Aidan the Great boarding school, known to its privileged pupils as S.T.A.G.S.
To her surprise Greer receives a mysterious invitation with three words embossed upon on it: huntin' shootin' fishin' - an invitation to spend the half term weekend at the country manor of Henry de Warlencourt, the most popular and wealthy boy at S.T.A.G.S.
Greer joins the other chosen students at the ancient and sprawling Longcross Hall, and soon realises that they are at the mercy of their capricious host. Over the next three days, as the three bloodsports - hunting, shooting and fishing - become increasingly dark and twisted, Greer comes to the horrifying reality that those being hunted are not wild game, but the very misfits Henry has brought with him from school...

This is one of those books that has been all over social media and has had other bloggers raving about it for months... And now, FINALLY, I understand why! S.T.A.G.S. is an amazing new addition to the hall of YA fame as it has everything you could possibly want from a young adult novel. It is fast paced, exhilarating, unapologetic and jaw droppingly amazing. From the very first chapter I just knew I was going to love this book and I wasn't wrong.

S.T.A.G.S. is the story of Greer MacDonald and how her new life among the privileged went from uncomfortable at best to outright dangerous. One Justitium Weekend - also know as autumn break to you and I muggles - Greer is invited to Longcross Hall by the popular kids at St. Aidan the Great's boarding school. Thinking the invitation is the key to making it at her new school Greer is more than excited to accept and take her place among the Medieval's (popular kids to us common folk) but it soon becomes clear nothing is as it seems. From the second Greer arrives at Longcross things take a turn for the unexpected and as the blood sports begin there is only one question worth asking... Who will be going back to S.T.A.G.S alive?

This book takes the ideas of an out of date class system and the stereotypes of social hierarchy and pushes them to their absolute limit, creating a dark and sinister plot that will have you holding your breath until the very last page.  There is something about the way in which this story is told that had me on tender hooks - pun completely intended- and the world in which M.A. Bennett creates is unapologetically twisted. Personally I adored the characters and the very harsh differences between the popular kids and the ones that didn't quite fit in. S.T.A.G.S. is a book that champions the outsider and tries to enforce that no matter what, you should always just be you!

Overall, Greer and her unlikely new friends drag the reader into the mysterious, archaic world of the Medival's and their dangerous games.  S.T.A.G.S. is a hauntingly eery tale that shows what a need for control can do to a person and when it comes to the Medieval's, they will do anything to preserve a way of life that died out decades ago. This is one of those books that took me by surprise and had me re-reading the last chapter over and over to make sure I wasn't mistaken. If you haven't read this yet I don't know what you are waiting for! It is everything you could want from a YA and it will leave you gagging for more. 

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