Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “S.T.A.G.S” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


(S.T.A.G.S #1)

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  4,953 ratings  ·  1,137 reviews
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. Just when she despairs of making friends Greer receives a mysterious invitation with three words embossed upon on it: huntin' shootin' fi
Paperback, 290 pages
Published August 10th 2017 by Hot Key Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about S.T.A.G.S, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Grace Tiny hint of romance but the book isn't based around it :D

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.51  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,953 ratings  ·  1,137 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of S.T.A.G.S
Charlotte May
3.5 ⭐️

I must admit I was expecting more from this YA thriller.
Greer has just received a scholarship to the prestigious S.T.A.G.S boarding school. As expected though, she doesn't fit in. These kids are the ultimate in privilege; years and years of entitlement and 'Old money' have led to a 'mean girls' like group known as medievals.

When Greer receives an invitation from the most popular boy in school to go to his family estate for the weekend, she is beyond excited. Maybe finally she can make som
Miriam Smith
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: readers-first
"S.T.A.G.S." written by M.A.Bennett is a superb story that was such a different read to my normal books, yet still in keeping with the thriller genre.
I knew as soon as I started reading this that I was going to enjoy it and I wasn't proved wrong. With twists and turns right to the very end, readers will love this book - so easy to follow with brilliant characters (I could certainly see the attraction with Henry) and a seriously captivating plot.
Greer MacDonald has won a scholarship at the very
Wendy Darling
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audio
2.5 stars

Intriguing premise, with a plot that is fine at first, but eventually becomes unbelievable, then ludicrous. A slight but entertaining book ruined by heroine's distraction by a blue-eyed charmer (view spoiler), a superfluous continuation post-climax, why-haven't-you-caught-up-to-the-clues-yet frustration, hard-to-swallow mindsets, and occasional poseur shock style (view spoiler)
Cora Tea Party Princess
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
5 Words: Privilege, power, huntin', shootin', fishin'.

Holy wow. I misjudged this book a lot.

I knew from those first gripping pages that there had been a death, that someone thought they had murdered someone else, but I loved how unreliable it felt.

I'm not entirely sure what it was about the cover or the blurb (yes, I read it for once!) that made me think that this was set in the US, but it's not. And that came as a very pleasant and welcome surprise.

I found myself quickly sucked deep into the w
Rachel Hall
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it

S.T.A.G.S is a cracking debut psychological thriller aimed at the YA market but in all honesty with M.A. Bennett’s neat plotting, the scathing humour of her central character and a storyline filled with situations which are accessible to an adult audience, this novel has the ability to entertain well beyond its target bracket. With its dark undertone and a heroine wise beyond her years yet achingly aware of the social conventions which dictates whether an adolescent fits in, S.T.A.G.S offers a p
Brooke — brooklynnnnereads
This was a unique, creative, and thrilling novel that is not typical within the Young Adult genre. It almost felt as if it was a combination of "Pretty Little Liars" by Sara Shepard and the movies "Scream" and "Mean Girls". It was a different story and not only in the idea but the execution of the crimes.

Admittedly (and unfortunately), as much as I was a fan of the idea surrounding the plot, this novel was just not for me. It was a case of "it's not you, it's me". The writing was well done but

"Huntin', Shootin', Fishin'."

I genuinely thought I was going to thoroughly enjoy S.T.A.G.S. because I requested in during the same period I was watching this brilliant BBC mini-series called, wait for it, “Stag”. The concept was similar and being me the idiot I am I thought it was a sign from the gods to read it. In “Stag” a group of men go on a hunting trip on a friend's stag night. Then, one after the other, they get killed off. My kind of thing if you know me! In “S.T.A.G.S.” a group of kids
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Sometimes you know from the very beginning of a book that you are going to thoroughly enjoy it and this was definitely that book.

Greer MacDonald wins a scholarship to the prestigious STAGS (St Aidan the great school). She finds it hard to make new friends as old money trumps new and it’s an old establishment where one’s ancestry is very important.

When Greer receives an invitation with the words “huntin, shootin and fishin” from the very popular Henry Cookson, it looks like her luck has changed.
Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ Campbell

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

S.T.A.G.S. is the type of book that you remember as being better than it actually was because the premise is so good that you want to forgive it for any tactical errors. It was a strange creature, a blend of cheesy horror cast in the vein of the old Point Horror novels I used to devour as a preteen, but also hauntingly Gothic with passages so dramatic that I reread them a second time.

I've been wanting to read S.T.A.G.S. ever since I hear
Bex (Beckie Bookworm)

So for me, Stags was just an OK read: one that I was initially very much looking forward to reading: Unfortunately, it didn't deliver the expected results and I found I enjoyed the idea behind this story more than it's actual execution.
This was in itself an interesting premise: Primarily a YA book Stags is an Elite boarding school steeped in tradition and elitism.
Our main girl Greer is a recent scholarship student at this prestigious establishment and she just wants to fit in with her new peers.
Ellie (faerieontheshelf)
4.5/5 stars

I think there's a pretty clear reason why I liked this and rated it so highly. If Tartt's The Secret History and Stiefvater's The Raven Boys had a lovechild, it might look something like this book. It undoubtedly takes more after The Secret History in terms of narrative, but it has key themes that both TSH and TRB share: wealthy youths; private schools; youths doing ill-advised things and taking advantage of their affluence; a newcomer to a group of glittering, enigmatic people.

An e
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley-arcs
*Thank you to the author and Netgalley for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review*

2.5 starts

I was looking forward to reading this book - the premise sounded great and I had not read anything like what the plot suggested I would be getting. And I did enjoy it... to a degree.

I had zero connection with any of the characters in this book. Yes, their appearences were described, but I never got a sense of who they were as a person, and so honestly, I didn't care what their fate would turn o
Wing (bibliomeds)
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
what a dark, thrilling read set in a lush and posh estate with shady secrets.
being rich must be nice sometimes

finished this in 2 sittings and i'm so proud of myself.
rin ( ̄ヘ ̄)	 read/watch mo dao zu shi
yeah i get it you love movies please stop name-dropping them every five pages

not only did i dislike this book, russian translation is also horrible
pondering the rating, might lower it down later
Sep 22, 2017 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Actual rating: 2.25

Spoiler free mini review.

Overall this book was quick, entertaining (on a certain level), it held my attention and at times it was even somewhat tense. However if I delve deeper into it, this book is quite unbelievable, the characters were annoying and the book did not live up to its potential.

I could have overlooked all my other complaints if this book would have been incredibly tense. If it would have got me on the edge of my seat, but it didn’t. The plot just greatly disap
Karima chermiti
May 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
This book is the definition of boredom. I can't believe I finished it even though i liked nothing about, not a thing.

I could've reread 13 Minutes or Little Monsters or We Were Liars and i would had a very good time but instead i chose this book and it ended up being one brutal exhausting and totally disappointing reading experience that bored the feelings out of me.


Full review now posted

Hate is a strong word. I don’t use very often in my life, I don’t think I’ve ever used at all when talkin
Aug 04, 2018 rated it liked it
‘Nine students. Three blood sports. One deadly weekend.’

This book is an okay read, but didn’t really live up to its potential.

It is different from standard YA releases and the concept is great. The problem is in the execution. Greer is a fish out of water as a scholarship student at this exclusive school for the extremely wealthy. Largely ignored by her peers, she finally feels like she is being accepted by the elite group at school when she receives an invitation. Greer is thrust into their wor
Jen Ryland
Entertaining though pretty unsuspenseful suspense book about rich kids behaving badly.

Do you have thirty seconds? Find out why I think this is Mean Girls retold on a British country weekend.

Read my full (cranky) thoughts here: Jen Ryland Reviews STAG

Read more of my reviews on! Check out my Bookstagram! Or check out my Jen In Ten reviews on Youtube - get the lowdown on current books in 10-30 seconds!

I received a free advance copy of this book from the publisher for possible revi
Oct 11, 2017 rated it did not like it
Honestly, this book made me angrier than I thought was possible. And it wasn't because I didn't enjoy the book (which happens!) but because this book LIED to me. It's like that episode of Bob's Burgers:

lie vs twist

If you're wondering what the "lie" is, it's literally the first sentence of the book. The sentence that's supposed to hook you and keep you reading. And it did - at first. But it was a hook built on deception and that my friends it what pissed me off the most about this book.

But there were oth
The Candid Cover (Olivia & Lori)
S.T.A.G.S honestly surprised me. It is a very eerie story with a twisty plot and an intelligent main character. The story definitely strays from the classic private school book I was expecting. Although this book is a thriller, I feel like there isn’t enough action, and I would have enjoyed more suspense.

It’s so hard to describe this book without spoilers, but basically, it tells the story of a girl who is invited to the annual weekend trip with the most popular kids in school. She is skeptical,
I love boarding school/secret society type books, so I was all over this one.

I liked Greer well enough. She is a bit wishy-washy, but she’s smart and resourceful and I loved that her dad’s profession gave her some seemingly random information. I didn’t quite see the appeal of Henry or his friends. Their enviable qualities appeared to be wearing whatever tights they wanted and I’m not sure what else.

Plot wise, I loved the idea. I won’t go into detail because possible spoilers, but it had a lot
Fiona MacDonald
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
I thought this was a bit of a hidden gem to be honest, I wasn't expecting it to be so enjoyable, or to have so many moments where I was gritting my teeth. I am finding more and more with YA Plus fiction how very good it is, and how there are some wonderful stories that probably wouldn't fit well in adult fiction. My goal this year is to read more YA Plus because so far everything I have read has got high marks. *POSSIBLE SPOILER* - this reminded me a lot of the film 'Ready or Not' which I saw at ...more
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, 2018-release
S.T.A.G.S. is one of the most fun books I’ve read this year. I just plain enjoyed myself every time I put on my headphones and fired up the audio. I’m a sucker for a boarding school setting and a fight between the privileged upper crust and the scrappy outsiders. There’s something so satisfying about peeking behind the curtain of the very wealthy to discover a seedy or shocking truth. We all have our junk; some of us can just pay more to hide it.

The group calling themselves the Medievals at St.
Aug 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-to-review
(I received a copy from Netgalley, In exchange for an honest review.)

This wasn't awful, but I can't say it was one that I enjoyed. It just couldn't fully gain my interest unfortunately, so I spent a lot of the book feeling quite bored. I was pretty glad to see the end.

Overall, Not awful, but not one for me.
Aneta Bak
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, netgalley
I thought I was really going to enjoy S.T.A.G.S. but I was just left very disappointed from beginning to end.

First of all, the book starts off in past-tense from the main character, Greer's point of view. In the beginning, she mentions that a certain individual was killed and that she and a few others were the murderers, then she dives into the story from how she got to the school. Normally this type of thing works really well in mystery novels, where they reveal the killer in the beginning but
Jillian Reynolds (Jillian Loves Books)
Me when I saw this book was marketed as a "psychological survival adventure" that will "shock readers":

Me after reading this "psychological adventure," which was in fact, not shocking at all:

I don't know. Maybe one day I'll actually find a book that is "shocking," but currently, Little Monsters and We Were Liars are the only two books to hold that honor. It's just unfortunate that to get to those gems, I seem to have to read through an excessive amount of boring books. This genre only holds boo
Claire (Book Blog Bird)
The plot of this story was completely far-fetched and it took a number of leaps of logic to follow what was going on and keep believing it, but the social commentary was spot on. The MC, a scholarship girl at an incredibly exclusive English public school, gets invited to one of her classmate's massive country estates for the weekend only to find that er classmate wasn't exactly extending the hand of friendship. This book deals with racism, classism, snobbery, old-boy networks and conspiracy theo ...more
STAGS is a boarding school for the wealthy elite. Greer is admitted on a scholarship, whereas most other students at the school have had generations of attendees in their families. When Greer and two other new/outcast students are invited for a weekend of "Huntin'. Shootin'. Fishin'" with the Medievals (the elite clique of students at the school), she is warned against going by a former friend, but ultimately decides to go, seeing it as a chance to finally make friends and be accepted. What occu ...more
Dec 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A gorgeous country side manor, a bunch of posh twats and a weekend full off blood sports. Recipe for a disaster, or a delicious thriller? Well, how about both?

Movie geek Greer is the new girl at St. Aidan’s boarding school, and as a scholarship student, she’s not up enough to the standards of the toffs attending the establishment to actually make friends with her. Not being an aristocratic offspring is not the only reason for these kids to look down upon someone, you see. There’s such thing as g
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • People Like Us
  • This Lie Will Kill You
  • A Good Girl's Guide to Murder (A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, #1)
  • Good Girl, Bad Blood (A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, #2)
  • Dead Girls Society
  • Two Can Keep a Secret
  • The Rules
  • The Cheerleaders
  • A Throne of Swans (A Throne of Swans, #1)
  • Dogs
  • My Dad Wears Prison Blues
  • Orphan Monster Spy (Orphan Monster Spy, #1)
  • Good Girls Die First
  • Poisoned
  • One of Us Is Next (One of Us Is Lying, #2)
  • All Your Twisted Secrets
  • Harrow Lake
  • Your Turn to Die
See similar books…
M. A. Bennett is half Venetian and was born in Manchester, England, and raised in the Yorkshire Dales. She is a history graduate of Oxford University and the University of Venice, where she specialized in the study of Shakespeare’s plays as a historical source. After university she studied art and has since worked as an illustrator, an actress, and a film reviewer. She also designed tour visuals f ...more

Other books in the series

S.T.A.G.S (3 books)
  • D.O.G.S (S.T.A.G.S, #2)
  • F.O.X.E.S. (S.T.A.G.S. #3)

Related Articles

We asked Alice Bolin, author of Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession, and journalist-turned-crime novelist Laura...
97 likes · 48 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“The hunter…became the hunted,” she translated haltingly. “The hounds…were struck with a wolf’s frenzy…and tore him to pieces as they would a stag.” 4 likes
“She placed one of her perfect white crescents of nail under the words. “The hunter…became the hunted,” she translated haltingly. “The hounds…were struck with a wolf’s frenzy…and tore him to pieces as they would a stag.” 2 likes
More quotes…