By the sweet grace of God I was able to get my hands on an advanced e-galley of Karen McManus’s newest standalone book–The Cousins. I swear to you I screamed when I saw this on edelweiss, and I hit download so quick. It was serendipity when I got the flu and ended up reading this at home when I ran out of Newbery books to read, and wow! I loved McManus’ other books–especially Two Can Keep a Secret–and while I think this book is good, it’s not her best. People who like Sara Shepard books and Ruth Ware books will enjoy this one.
The Cousins--Milly, Audrey, and Jonah–are summoned to work at Gull Cove Island by the mysterious matriarch of the Story family, the same matriarch who banished their parents over twenty years ago and has rarely been seen since. What awaits them on the island is influenced by what they are leaving behind–parents with their own issues, bankruptcy court, and crappy boyfriends–but it escalates quickly. The Story matriarch seems confused to see them. A doctor with dementia mistakes them for their parents, and says there might be secrets to spill. A local bartender isn’t who he says he is, and neither is one of the cousins, but what they find inside the old Story home is not what anyone expected. And it will have far-reaching consequences far behind a simple summer paycheck.
So, this book was interesting. It felt familiar in very good ways. It also felt like I was missing fifty pages of world building and set-up…but I don’t think I was. Maybe that’ll be added before publication in December, because I feel like it could use it. My ARC said 250 pages (on Adobe Digital Editions) so it wouldn’t be HUGE if it was added…but I felt like I didn’t get a good sense of the resort/what the cousins were up to BEFORE shit hit the fan, and wow did it hit the fan. I semi-predicated the big twist,but I LOVED HOW IT PLAYED OUT. Very McManus. Throughout the book though, we get lots of things–bankruptcy, sex scandals, all the good “historically fanciful” family drama. If you like that sort of thing–rich families doing bad things and their kids dealing with the consequences–you’ll really love this book. It’s all about how the past influences the future–with multi POV. A little Pretty Little Liars, a little Ruth Ware.
Overall, I did enjoy this book. But I felt like it lacked some early world-building to draw me in. I’ve read a LOT of those “new kid at storied place” island books, and this one just kind of skipped over the first two weeks in a way I didn’t love. The ending made up for it mostly though. Bonkers, totally bonkers.
The Cousins by Karen McManus is on sale December 1st, 2020, and you can pre-order it wherever books are sold.