Review: The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

This one was a wee bit of a disappointment.

The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

Published December 2020

Dark Fiction  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon  |  Bookshop

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying comes your next obsession. You'll never feel the same about family again.

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.

My 2 Cents For Free!

Hmmm, I’m going to have to be the star giving Grinch today and give this one 2 and ½ stars because it didn’t engage me and I pushed through only because I’m nosy and wanted to know the deep dark family secrets. It’s my fault and only mine that I ended up feeling disappointment in the end because this should’ve been a book I quit at the 25% mark when I discovered it wasn’t working for me. Doesn’t mean it won’t work for you, however.

A good chunk of the story sorta plods along with nothing much of interest happening. Finally, after being completely non-curious kittens and non-snoopers for a third of the book, one of the young characters declares:

“We shouldn’t just sit back and wonder what’s happening. We should do something.”

Yes! Finally!! I was excited for things to start getting interesting but that didn’t really happen. There’s a chemistry-free little romance that takes up WAY too much time for my liking but I’m a grouch who needs to feel the connection in my very bones so you may not feel this way. I also do not enjoy it when a writer decides to name all of her characters very similarly. I am easily confused and rarely get to read a book in one sitting so naming your people Adam (or was it Alan?), Archer, Aubrey, Anders & Allison hurt my brain. Who is who? Don’t ask me.

I freely admit that I was taken in by the blurb which sounded pretty amazing and a little VC Andrews-like but the execution fell flat for me. The characters weren’t awful but they also weren’t exciting enough to carry this book for me either. And the secrets weren’t nearly as lurid as I’d hoped (but that’s on me - I’ve been spoiled by other books) but it was the ending that came out of absolutely nowhere that knocked off an entire star and I’m not going into that because it will be a spoiler and this will no longer be a review but a rant and none of us need to be subjected to that.

Anyhow, these are my thoughts. You may feel differently and that’s perfectly ok.



  1. I read another review of this book (can't remember where), but they didn't love this one either. I think it was the slow pacing.

    1. It was a bit of a slog at times so that makes sense.

  2. That's a great point about all the A names! I seem to be an outlier on this one because I kinda liked it- maybe it was the island setting- but I have noticed other bloggers haven't been as crazy about it either, compared t some of her others. But reading your review haha I'm starting to agree- I forgot some things- so maybe I was giving it the benefit of the doubt :)

  3. Oh well, there are plenty of good books out there, so on to the next!

  4. Ugh, that's one of my pet peeves too. I cannot understand why authors do that with character names! Does an editor not say something at some point???

  5. Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy this one more.

    1. It's ok, they can't all be fives. Though it would be real nice if they were!


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