Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they hardly know one another. They are the grandchildren of the rich, reclusive woman who basically owns Gull Cove Island, but they’ve never even met her. The cousins’ parents were disinherited over twenty years ago, but for what, they don’t know—or won’t say. The only correspondence from Mildred Story was a letter: You know what you did. And no Story has been back on the island since. So it’s quite strange when Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah are all invited to work at the island’s resort for an entire summer. But it soon becomes clear that all three generations of Story’s have secrets, and they’re all about to come out.
This year, I read both One of Us Is Lying and One of Us Is Next. I devoured both books, and when I heard The Cousins was going to be published this year, I knew I had to get my hands on it. Though a very lackluster title, I had high hopes. I mean, this is Karen M. McManus! She left me puzzled after twists and turns, and swooning over Bronwyn and Nate’s relationship. So what did I think about her newest novel?
The Cousins is told predominately in first-person POV from Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah in alternating chapters. Their present-day narrative is occasionally broken up with third-person chapters from Allison’s perspective back in 1996. Allison is Milly’s mother, one of the Story children. For a twisty mystery, this one was hard for me to get into. And I mean really hard. With the OOUIL series, I was hooked right away. But with The Cousins, I found myself uninterested in the characters or their story for a good chunk of the book. And that was really disappointing, because I want to be swept into mysteries/thrillers right away. Don’t fret, though: it does get good. Once those Story secrets start to come out, and McManus starts twisting the plot around, I couldn’t get enough. I dragged through the first half of the book, but flashed through the rest of it in one sitting. Karen M. McManus knows how to write a story, even if it does have a too-slow build.
As the story moved along, I did take an interest in the characters. I actually liked them all for their own reasons, which is surprising because I usually end up disliking someone more than the others when there’s multiple POVs. Milly is a badass, Aubrey is intelligent, and Jonah is…well, Jonah. I’m not sure how to really describe him, but he’s endearing nonetheless. I do wish there would have been a little more romance in this book, though. I know, I know: it’s a book about cousins. I didn’t go into it expecting anything steamy to be a main plot point. There is some romance, though I won’t say between whom—I’m just a sucker for love stories, okay?
Overall, I really enjoyed the book once it started picking up. I wish it would have been more enticing right off the bat, but if you stick with it, you will be rewarded. It’s a fun, twisty mystery about the scariest thing of all: family. And if family doesn’t scare you, then you are lucky and should probably read this book just to experience the horror of it all. Though I wouldn’t put it up there with my favorites, I’m happy to have read it and do recommend it, especially if you already adore Karen M. McManus like I do.
The Cousins is released tomorrow, December 1st, so be sure to pick up your copy and let me know what you think!