“Everybody has secrets,” she says, taking a sip of her drink. “That’s nondebatable. The only question is whether you’re keeping your own, or someone else’s.”
I’m a huge Karen M. McManus fan, and I reviewed One of Us is Lying here and One of Us is Next here. So when I saw the chance to get on a blog tour for this incredible book with The Write Reads, I jumped at it. I absolutely loved this complicated family drama between estranged cousins and their mysterious grandmother.
Rating: 5 stars!
Thanks to Penguin Books for the ARC of this book. It has not affected my honest review.
Trigger Warnings: miscarriage, violence, murder, alcoholism
About the book:
The Storys are the envy of their neighbours: owners of the largest property on their East Coast island, they are rich, beautiful, and close. Until it all falls apart. The four children are suddenly dropped by their mother with a single sentence:
You know what you did.
They never hear from her again. Years later, when 18-year-old cousins Aubrey, Milly and Jonah Story receive a mysterious invitation to spend the summer at their grandmother’s resort, they have no choice but to follow their curiosity and meet the woman who’s been such an enigma their entire lives.
This entire family is built on secrets, right? It’s the Story legacy.
This summer, the teenagers are determined to discover the truth at the heart of their family. But some secrets are better left alone.
What did I think?
I am definitely a Karen McManus super-fan. One of Us is Next is one of the earliest books I requested (and got turned down for, but no hard feelings) and since the day that OOUIN released (and that I read it in one sitting) I’ve been waiting for The Cousins. To say that I freaked out when it showed up on my doorstep would be an understatement. The Cousins is quite different from Karen McManus’s other books. I think it might be a little closer to Two Can Keep A Secret in tone and style, but it’s definitely its own beast. I absolutely loved the shaken up style, and I found that The Cousins had my full attention the entire way through.
The Cousins is a family drama and mystery, more than it is a murder mystery. There’s a huge focus in this book on family trauma, a subject I love love love to read about, with complicated relationships between children and parents as a repeating theme, and I found that it really kept me invested. I wanted to know all of the little secrets the cousins were keeping just as much as I wanted to know the Big Secret. Our main characters are three estranged cousins, brought together by the grandmother they’ve never met to work on her island resort. They’ve never met her because, years ago, their parents were all disinherited with only one note.
You know what you did.
The crux of the mystery is uncovering what exactly that means, working out why the children were disinherited while the grandchildren, Milly, Aubrey and Jonah, meet the grandmother they’ve never known and get to know each other. It’s a pretty intoxicating mystery and I will admit that I didn’t guess what was going to happen. All my predictions were miles off base but, as with McManus’s other thrillers, I didn’t feel robbed. The clues were there all along, perfectly threaded into the story, I just didn’t put them together in the right ways. The mystery built to an excellent climax that had me wanting to shout at the book just a little bit, and even after I put the book away on my shelf, it’s been playing on my thoughts.
The split POVs were interesting and well balanced, though I do think I found Milly marginally less interesting because I felt like I was often comparing it to our fourth POV, a time jump to Milly’s mum to show what was going on the summer before the children were disinherited, but maybe that was just me. Despite my lesser interest in her POV chapters, MIlly and Aubrey were tied for my favourite the entire way through. Aubrey has so much character development that I absolutely adored and I found myself cheering her along in every chapter.
While Two Can Keep A Secret has retained its title as my absolute favourite McManus thriller, The Cousins has definitely fought its way into second spot with complicated family drama, intense relationships and perfect character development. This is definitely not one to miss, and would even make a great starting point if you’re new to Karen McManus but like a YA thriller. I can’t wait to see what comes next.
Release date: 3rd December 2020