This review is spoiler free.
“You know what you did.”
Published: 2020, by Penguin.
Format: eBook/ARC from Netgalley
Genre: Mystery, Young Adult, Thriller, Contemporary, Fiction, Suspense, Crime
Contains: Strong Language, Violence, Blood/Gore, Death, Alcohol/Drugs, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Fire
‘The Cousins’ follows the Story family, who are the envy of their neighbours: owners of the largest property on their East Coast island, they’re rich, beautiful, and close. Until it all falls apart. 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 who woman who’s been such an enigma their entire lives.
I wished for this book on Netgalley the moment I saw it being posted, having loved Karen M. McManus’ work since the initial release of her debut One of Us is Lying. I knew this story was going to be full of suspense and anticipation, I just wasn’t prepared for this much.
Milly Story was a brilliant protagonist, who developed beautifully right before your very eyes. Initially, she was introduced with seduction and mystery, before she unfolded in her cousins presences with strong independence. It was absolutely wonderful to see through the eyes of Milly, loving every moment in her company.
Aubrey was quite similar, in that her secrets and scandal unfolded in time, and yet you witnessed her growth alongside it. She was initially timid and withdrawn, but eventually became a strong, independent woman, who took no nonsense from her grandmother, or anyone else on the island.
Jonah, however, was one of the most interesting of characters, with lengthy secrets that kept you in suspense. There was an aura of mystery about him, and you couldn’t help but latch yourself onto him for the ride. His relationship with his cousins was wonderful to read, watching them all develop from strangers into friends and witnessing them team up to discover the Story family secrets.
The novel itself is quite fast-paced, with short chapters lasting only around five minutes each and jumping from different character perspectives. The shortest chapters were regarding the family history, exploring a new narrator to the present time and being drip-fed information into the parents past. It was an all-round fascinating read, with classic McManus language and plot development that keeps you entertained and desperate for more.
Overall, I deeply enjoyed this read. With juicy family secrets and a mystery to unfold, this novel will take you on an epic journey into the lives of the rich and beautiful.