What happens in 'Saint X'? A deep dive into Hulu's new thriller series

'Saint X' is about more than a young woman's disappearance and murder, according to the book's author

What happens in Saint X? Pictured: Alycia Debnam-Carey as Emily in Hulu's Saint X
(Image credit: Palmoa Alegria/Hulu)

We're all waiting for answers: what happens in Saint X, and who is the person responsible for taking Alison's life? 

In the book-to-screen adaptation—which may have you asking "Is Saint X based on a true story? with its similarities to real-life cases the Natalee Holloway mystery—we meet the Thomas family, who is vacationing on the fictional Caribbean island. (Here's where Saint X was filmed if the white sand and turquoise water have inspired you.) The Thomas' take their two girls, 18-year-old Alison and 7-year-old Claire, for a getaway in paradise that quickly turns into a tragedy. 

Right as the family is about to leave, they discover Alison—who went out with locals from the resort—is missing, and later found deceased. But the story doesn't end there: it fast forwards from the '90s to present-day, when young Claire, who now goes by her middle name, Emily, is living in Brooklyn and attempting to carry on her life as normal. However, a run-in with the man who last saw her sister alive derails any attempts of normalcy. 

*Warning: spoilers ahead*

What happens in 'Saint X'?

Author Alexis Schaitkin, who wrote the book on which the Hulu series is based, didn't want to solely focus the story on who killed Alison; she intended to show readers and viewers how this fictional death turned national news story took a toll on everyone. 

"For me, this chorus of voices is about the ripple effect of Alison’s death, about its unexpected consequences and the ways a single event can reverberate across time and space," she told the American Booksellers Association

After spending time in Cambodia post-graduation, working with a school that focused on hospitality, Schaitkin wanted to dig into this area, specifically about the differences between locals and tourists. This followed with research on scholarly texts about the Caribbean, an exploration of cookbooks and eventually a research trip to Anguilla, according to Book Trib. That eventually led to the creation of Saint X

a scene of alison in saint X out with men from the resort

(Image credit: Palmoa Alegria/Hulu)

“I knew I wanted to tell a story that followed both tourists and island locals in the aftermath of a single dramatic event — to show how a brief encounter rippled out and altered all of their lives forever," she told Entertainment Weekly. "The classic way of framing this is to say that these characters are from ‘different worlds’, but they’re not, they’re from the same world, and that’s so much of what I wanted to explore in the book."

The author goes on to say that her favorite part of creating the story was particularly when she came to the middle, when Emily was forced to relive her sister's brutal death all over again, and slowly but surely becomes obsessed with her quest for answers. Schaitkin claimed in EW that it was one of the most "psychologically intricate" parts of the story to write. 

As for who killed Alison, the two people who last saw her alive were let off the hook, but you'll have to tune in to see how everything comes to an end for the Thomas family.

Grab a copy of Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin (available at Amazon)and dig into the thriller with your book club. The series airs weekly on Wednesdays on Hulu until May 31. 

Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.