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.
The Cousins is an engaging Y/A mystery thriller centered around the illustrious Story family, over the course of a summer with twists and turns galore. This is the first book by Karen M. McManus I’ve read so I went in with no expectations or preconceived notions about her writing style or the story and I quite enjoyed this book. I know the author is well known for writing another Y/A thriller called One of Us is Lying which I’ll be reading soon, so fingers crossed I like that one just as much. I wanted to also say a big thank you to The Write Reads Tours for asking me to be part of this blog tour & being such a great platform as always!
One of my favourite things about this book was definitely how the mystery element plays out, switching between past and present. This is a format which needs no introduction and is super common, I think it was used well here and definitely helped to ramp up the tension and sense of mystery further. There’s one big ‘secret’ in the plot, which is why the Story matriarch, Mildred Story disowned all her children with no notice save an ominous one liner ‘You know what you did’ which is at the heart of the book. I liked that while this was the central point, there were also many other plot threads which all interlinked so seamlessly and added a lot to the story without it feeling too busy.
I also liked the three main characters, which is great since we get to read from all of their perspectives as well as some of the more secondary characters. Aubrey, Jonah and Milly are all likeable characters and I really liked the close relationship the cousins form with each other, and how this develops over the course of the novel. Estranged family dynamics is not one I’ve read a lot of in the books I usually read so it was something different for me. In particular I really enjoyed the fact that both Milly and Aubrey – whose parents have been distant and critical their entire lives – were able to form such a great friendship and become so in tune with each other. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, female friendships done right are some of the most enjoyable things to read, so I liked how both girls got to a good point, despite some minor roadblocks along the way.
Speaking of the relationships in the novel, I also liked how much of a clear divide there was between the somewhat idyllic childhood of the cousins parents and the stark difference to their own upbringings. I always like it when books have this sense of contrast and show the passage of time in whatever way and this was done so well here. Especially because we get to read through some of the parents perspectives and see what they were like when they were younger, in comparison to their older selves, this was quite interesting. It adds so much more depth to the story and makes you wonder how they got from point A to B.
I also want to note that there are certain things about the book which would be strictly in spoiler territory so I won’t be able to mention certain things that happen so I’m trying to be as vague as possible here! I totally want to gush about it all, but in the interest of anyone who might be wanting to check this book out, I’ll control the urge. If you’ve read the book already you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Overall, The Cousins was a page turner which I can see being a popular pick for a summer read or on the plane or beach, or because of the current state of the world and the UK being in lockdown, a fun mystery to curl up with from the comfort and safety of your own home! I would definitely recommend this book to any readers who want a clever, fun new Y/A thriller to dive into.
Until next time,