Magpie – Elizabeth Day

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 336
Release Date: May 3, 2022 (originally September 2, 2021)

She has almost everything. The rest she’ll take.

Single White Female meets The Perfect Nanny in this taut, psychological suspense novel about a perfect couple and their seemingly perfect roommate—that is until she threatens to destroy everything they’ve worked so hard to create. 

Marisa and Jake are a perfect couple, and Kate, their new lodger, is the perfect roommate–and not just because her rent payments will give them the income they need to start trying for a baby. Except no one is perfect. Sure, Kate doesn’t seem to care much about personal boundaries and can occasionally seem overly familiar with Jake, but Marisa doesn’t let it concern her. Kate will soon be gone, and it will just be her, Jake, and their future baby.

Conceiving a baby is easier said than done, though, and Jake and Marisa’s perfect relationship is put to the test through months of fertility treatments and false starts. To make matters worse, Kate’s boundary-pushing turns into an all-out obsession–with Jake, with Marisa, and with their future child. Who is this woman? Why does she seem to know everything about Marisa and Jake?

In her quest to find out who Kate really is, Marisa might destroy everything she’s worked so hard to create: her perfect romance, her perfect family, and her perfect self. Jake doesn’t know the half of what Marisa has created and what she stands to lose. Magpie is a tense and twisting novel about mothers and children, envy and possession, and the dangers of getting everything you’ve ever dreamed of.


I’m usually not a fan of mystery or thriller novels unless they’re written by specific authors because, for the most part, I end up disliking them since they all feature similar elements. These elements include: mundane domestic life, stream of consciousness writing, and twists spotted from a mile away. Magpie suffers from all except the last, but not because the twist was interesting or even well-deserved.

Magpie follows Marisa and Jake as they move in together with plans to start a family, but when their finances get tight, a lodger moves in. Marisa becomes pregnant as things spiral with the lodger, Kate, as Marisa begins to question everything about her relationship with Jake since Kate seems to know a lot about her and Jake.

Magpie is a slow novel as readers are treated to the day-to-day lives of these characters through Marisa’s perspective. Their mundane domestic lives are a central focus of the novel. That, coupled with the stream of consciousness writing style makes Magpie difficult at times to remain interested.

Magpie focuses heavily on fertility and the struggles many women face when getting pregnant isn’t easy. A large chunk of the novel is devoted to this struggle. It comes from a place of experience, thus it reads as genuine and painful and is easily the best written part of the novel.

I didn’t see the twist coming despite it being obvious, however Day’s use of a specific red herring works in her favor to obscure it. Unfortunately, the red herring she used is one I dislike immensely.

Highlight to see spoiler below:

SPOILER: Using any mental health issue as a plot point is lazy writing, even if that plot point ends up being somewhat genuine.

Overall, Magpie is just another domestic mystery/thriller novel that’s slow, features an underwhelming twist, and an irresponsible red herring.

*** I received an arc from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 


Have you read Magpie? What did you think?

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