The Rival

By Sandra Gustafsson

Thriller, Crime & mystery | Paperback, eBook


Someone killed Joakim. His girlfriend Sara and his brother Tobias give radically different accounts of what happened. Is Sara really in love with the brother, or is she in fact a sociopath who won’t stop at anything, as Tobias claims? "The Rival" gives us the portraits of two characters at the ends of their ropes: Tobias, with his intense love-hate relationship with his family, and Sara, who has negated her own personality in her struggle to be accepted. When each makes a desperate effort to gain control, nothing turns out the way they planned. A claustrophobic thriller about jealousy, revenge and the consequences of manipulating others.



Sandra Gustafsson was born in 1972. Her first book was the autobiographical narrative The Dandelion Kid (2006), presented in readings and conference discussions over the following seven years. In 2006 LEVA! newspaper listed her among the year's 100 most inspiring persons. In 2007 The Dandelion Kid was shortlisted for Stockholm novel of the year. In 2010 she published the psychological thriller Seared. In May of 2014 her second psychological thriller The Rival appeared. In August 2015 her third psychological thriller Skinless will be released.


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Sandra Gustafsson was born in 1972. Her first book was the autobiographical narrative The Dandelion Kid (2006), presented in readings and conference discussions over the following seven years. In 2006 LEVA! newspaper listed her among the year's 100 most inspiring persons. In 2007 The Dandelion Kid was shortlisted for Stockholm novel of the year. In 2010 she published the psychological thr...


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Latest news

Honorable mention

29 March

The Rival was listed under "Honorable Mentions" in the 3rd Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published e-Book Awards Winners.

The Rival is one of the 2015 FINALISTS in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards.

14 February

The books were read by two reading groups, one in London and one in Stockholm. The books were marked according to editing, theme, style and cover. The winners will be announced on April 1st, 2016.

Review

2 January

"I was lucky enough to receive an this book and I love mysteries and psychological thrillers, especially the feel Scandinavian ones have. This book ranks right up there with those I've read. It envelops you. Characters are authentic, intense, calculating, and emotional. For the reader who enjoys this sort of work, this is likely an excellent read." - Goodreads

Review

2 January

"Overall, The Rival is a great thriller, I recommended it for anyone who likes this genre." - Goodreads

Review

2 January

"Gustafsson writes extremely emotional and interesting characters! The Rival is a suspenseful novel, and once you start reading it you will not be able to stop until you turn the last page." - Goodreads

Review

2 January

"It's one of the best psychological and crime stories I've ever read!" - Goodreads

Review

2 January

"The characters were intense and truly believable." - Goodreads

Review

2 January

"I was surprised at how quickly I was drawn into such a dark mystery and keep me guessing all the way up to the end and then surprised me even more. I good read and very well written." - Goodreads

Review

2 January

"I did not predict the end. It's an interesting engaging read about desperate broken people." - Goodreads

Review

19 October

"The Rival” by Sandra Gustafsson is an excellent suspenseful mystery. As a reader, I found myself caught up in trying to understand why the characters evolved in the ways that they did. It was fascinating to see the selfishness of the brother who had it all. The desperate greed faced by the lesser brother did not do anything to work in his favor, nor did it motivate him to try to earn recognition through strength of character and hard work. The mother’s love for one son and disdain for the other was also hard to understand because he was an innocent child when this began. Then there is the girlfriend, who allows herself not only to betray a man that she once loved, but also be so desperate to be with a man, she would put up with any kind of abuse. Readers will definitely enjoy this complex novel! Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (09/15)


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"The Rival” by Sandra Gustafsson is an excellent suspenseful mystery. As a reader, I found myself caught up in trying to understand why the characters evolved in the ways that they did. It was fascinating to see the selfishness of the brother who had it all. The desperate greed faced by the lesser brother did not do anything to work in his favor, nor did it motivate him to try to earn recognition through strength of character and hard work. The mother’s love for one son and disdain for the other was also hard to understand because he was an innocent child when this began. Then there is the girlfriend, who allows herself not only to betray a man that she once loved, but also be so desperate to be with a man, she would put up with any kind of abuse. Readers will definitely enjoy this complex...


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5 star review

22 September

"In a creepy, psychologically thrilling read by author Sandra Gustafsson, The Rival, the reader is introduced to Sara and Tobias. Neither character seems completely reliable or trustworthy, but through each of their stories, the reader just might be able to piece together what happened to Sara's boyfriend and Tobias' brother. Sara claims to be in love with her boyfriend, but Tobias thinks she's a lying sociopath only out to get what she wants and needs. Who's telling the truth? I don't want to give too much away, but I can certainly say that this is a read you don't want to miss out on. I so enjoyed The Rival. Once I started reading it, I simply could not put it down. Author Sandra Gustafsson has done a great job in creating characters that are interesting, intriguing, and just a bit unbalanced, exactly the type of characters that will keep her readers obsessively turning the pages of this thrill ride of a read. In fact, the best piece of advice I have for potential readers would be to have enough time set aside to read this book from start to finish once you pick it up. You will simply have to know how it ends. The Rival would be enjoyed by any reader who loves to read thrillers, mysteries, stories with a dark psychological bent, or just a plain great read. I am so glad that I read The Rival and am very much looking forward to reading more by Sandra Gustafsson as soon as I possibly can!" - Chris Fischer for Readers' Favorite


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"In a creepy, psychologically thrilling read by author Sandra Gustafsson, The Rival, the reader is introduced to Sara and Tobias. Neither character seems completely reliable or trustworthy, but through each of their stories, the reader just might be able to piece together what happened to Sara's boyfriend and Tobias' brother. Sara claims to be in love with her boyfriend, but Tobias thinks she's a lying sociopath only out to get what she wants and needs. Who's telling the truth? I don't want to give too much away, but I can certainly say that this is a read you don't want to miss out on. I so enjoyed The Rival. Once I started reading it, I simply could not put it down. Author Sandra Gustafsson has done a great job in creating characters that are interesting, intriguing, and just a bit u...


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Review

14 June

“I asked myself why I was so spellbound by a novel with a tone so dark that the story offered not even a glimmer of hope. Perhaps because it felt so true to life.” - Dast magazine

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