The Third Mrs. Durst by Ann Aguirre
Marlena Altizer Durst lives in her husband’s shadow. He controls her every move—what she wears, the food she eats, and the friends she’s allowed to make. If she disobeys, there are… consequences. And he has all the power, so nobody would believe her.
Her Cinderella story has been well-documented and it seems that she leads a fairy-tale life. But nobody ever wonders if Cinderella was happy after she married the prince. Marlena has traded freedom and safety for luxurious imprisonment, and most days, that seems like a bad bargain. Death may be the only exit she’s allowed. Just like his first wife. And his second.
Unless she flips the script.
And gets away with murder…
This book is everything.
You don’t even fucking KNOW.
I just finished it and my fingers are actually shaking as I try to type out this review. Because adrenaline.
Real talk, if you are a super sweet person that has never once contemplated doing serious bodily harm to another human being, this book is probably not for you. This is more geared toward those of us who fall closer to the “keep an eye on that” end of the sociopath spectrum.
The blurb hints that this is a story filled with violence and murder and other dark themes. It is. Whoo boy. But, speaking as someone who is especially harsh when these themes aren’t handled well, lemme tell you, Aguirre wielded them with the deft precision of a well-sharpened blade in the hand of a master swordswoman. When they hit, they cut deep, but you know each and every slice to your psyche was inflicted with surgical precision.
There are so many messages here. So many fundamental truths. And when spoken through the titular character’s stark, unabashed voice, they become profound to the point that I highlighted entire paragraphs.
On why she married Mr. Durst, despite the warning signs:
“I chose the road that looked prettiest from a distance, but I didn’t know then – sometimes the horizon is bright because it’s on fire.”
Foreshadowing. Yes. So here for it.
Which made this a delicious slow-build, where I never quite knew what was going on. I love unreliable narrators for this reason, and Mrs. Durst is one of the best I’ve read in a long time.
I fucking LOVED HER. Because I got her. Let me just say that not everyone will or can understand what motivates her. I do. And I’m not able to go into why right now, because spoilers.
So. Many. Spoilers.
What isn’t a spoiler is that Mr. Durst is abusive. This aspect of the story was almost too well done. Not even 25% of the way in, my blood was singing for vengeance.
As someone who has watched a loved one be manipulated, isolated, and broken down by their abuser, slowly, over the course of years, so that you don’t even recognize them anymore, this was really hard to read at times. Super trigger warnings for abuse, rape, and extreme violence.
But please, please don’t be put off by that warning. Like I said, these themes are well-executed. And there’s so much more to this story than murder and mayhem. The representation here is off the charts. And not just in obvious ways, but in smaller details that I doubt a lot of readers might catch because we’re so used to random side characters like doctors and cops always being men.
Subvert the patriarchy. Yes, queen.
If there’s any justice in the world, those hacks in Hollywood will toss out whatever remake script they’re currently considering cashing in on and instead produce this. I would watch the hell out of it. It would make an unbelievably good movie.
Honestly, I cannot recommend this enough for anyone looking for an adrenaline-packed thriller with darker themes and a female lead with questionable morals and sinister intentions.