The Cousins - Karen M McManus

Three cousins are mysteriously invited by their estranged grandmother to work on her island resort for the summer but when they arrive she is aloof and doesn't seem to want them there. Getting to know each other and the island they uncover a family secret that should have remained buried.

McManus returns to defend her throne to YA mystery novels with 'The Cousins' and you can bet this was on my pre-order list and jumped right up the TBR list when it was delivered. Her previous publications have been high-scorers in my book and this was no different. With a new set of characters, she leads us down a twisting path of mystery that I read through in one day.

'The Cousins' referenced in the title include Jonah, Milly and Aubrey, all expertly crafted characters. Particularly, I had a fascination with Aubrey. McManus has created a character that although brings a bubbly personality to the surface she holds a darker aura around herself that we catch glimpses of and unravels to show the depth of her personality. This well-roundedness didn't just apply to Aubrey of course, the core three were all well presented and the mystery surrounding them was captivating. The gradual revelations about their own secrets kept me on my toes.

Not only did the main three character's secrets get revealed but the bigger picture became twisted with red herrings and murder (my favourite kind of twists). As usual, McManus drops enough hints here and there to keep the reader guessing and for a majority of the second act, you think you mostly have it sussed out, but wait! You could never have anticipated the ending of this novel and I am blown away by the creativity of this novel. However, as an older reader even I got a little lost along the way with all the different players and people involved, having the family tree at the beginning of this edition was definitely a big help. I do feel however for a younger audience it might be a little difficult to 100% grasp all the twists and parts the character's played.

Overall, you know I loved it. Since picking up 'One of Us is Lying' in 2019 I have been hooked on the writing style of McManus' books and even though this missed... something (not quite sure what) I was still amazed at the level of thought that must have gone into this book.

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