Synopsis: Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they’ve never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they’re surprised… and curious. Their parents are all clear on one point—not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother’s good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it’s immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious—and dark—their family’s past is. The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn’t over—and this summer, the cousins will learn everything. From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying comes your next obsession. You’ll never feel the same about family again.
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Young Adult Fiction
Publication Date: December 1st, 2020
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Length: 337 pages
My rating: 4.5/5
Nothing says family like secrets and lies. The Story family is broken; after the death of their father, the four Story children were promptly disinherited by their mother and forbidden from visiting her. The mystery deepens when, out of the blue, Mildred Story invites her three grandchildren to visit her and spend the summer working on the island where she lives. Milly, Aubrey and Jonah, each with their own agenda and their own secrets, soon find out that nothing on the island is quite what it seems.
Family drama sure is fun when it isn’t your own! The Cousins was an exciting read, packed with mystery that kept me on my toes until the very end. Karen M. McManus did a great job of creating a story with a lot of twists and turns, each one more shocking than the last. I have found that sometimes mystery novels can lose my interest too quickly if they reveal too much right away, or if the author keeps me in the dark too long. Karen McManus found the perfect middle, revealing just enough to keep me hooked without giving away the big finale.
The characters were all well developed and unique. Shifting points of view between the three main characters was a fun way of getting different perspectives on the story, and I appreciated how their individual voices came through to tell . I particularly enjoyed learning about the dysfunctional Story children, and how they grew up from spoiled rich teens to bitter adults, each one affected differently by their mother’s rejection. Characters don’t necessarily have to be perfect to be relatable, and it was nice to find that Milly, Jonah and Aubrey acted like fairly typical teenagers, even when their bad decisions made me cringe at times.
The way the author revealed parts of the story using both the past and the present was very enjoyable, and I liked the subtle clues that were left for the reader to use to piece together the truth. There was a good balance struck between the narratives in the past and in the present, so one didn’t dominate over the other. Karen McManus built an engaging world on the small island where the Story’s grew up, and every little detail was meaningful in some way or another. I would say that this Young Adult fiction book is on the ‘younger’ end of the spectrum, every so often I got some strong Nancy Drew/Hardy Boy vibes from the characters. This isn’t a bad thing, if anything I think it opens up the readership for this book to a larger group of people. I would go so far as to say it could be classified as Teen/Young Adult for that reason.
I enjoyed this book from cover to cover, and would definitely recommend it to any mystery-lovers I come across. The Story family mystery was riveting in its entirety, and you can’t help but want to know the truth about Mildred Story and her children. The Cousins is a very hard book to put down, and a great 2020 read. I look forward to checking out Karen McManus’s other books as well.