An elite wedding venue caters to couples with an axe to grind—almost literally—in this darkly humorous and delightfully gruesome tale.
Amy, an aerobic dance instructor with commitment issues, is surprised to get a wedding invitation from her childhood friend, Caleb, since she and Caleb grew apart during middle and high school. Once an awkward kid, Caleb is now filthy rich and marrying Lilith at an exclusive mountain venue somewhere in Europe.
Amy, her ex-partner Mariko, and Amy’s parents, as well as all the other wedding guests, are awed by the stunning site. The free liquor goes a long way to smoothing over any concerns about the venue’s odd rules, unknown location, and the disturbing fact that the loving couple’s wedding vows reveal serious emotional baggage and a passion for revenge. The reception, carefully orchestrated by the venue’s uber-efficient Event Planner, becomes a once-in-a-lifetime event in more ways than one. Guests must do the unthinkable to survive the night.
No more info from me—I don’t want to steal your fun. Because The Venue is a blast. I will just say you’ll never look at a bouquet toss the same way again. Payne takes conventional traditions (either tired or beloved depending on your opinion about weddings) and splatters them with gore and grim humor. The characters are round enough that you care about them when dreadful things happen, and you can even, perhaps, empathize with the emotions fuelling Caleb’s grudge. If you’re a fan of the Netflix series Squid Game, or the film Battle Royale (2000), The Venue will be right up your alley. For a more cerebrally terrifying read, also try Payne’s Intercepts (2019). You can read my review of that gem here.