My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Goodreads Rating: 4.17 stars
Genre: Domestic/Psychological Thriller
Sub-genre: Rich People Behaving Badly
Format: Ebook ARC
Released: January 9, 2024
First, I would absolutely recommend this book in print. Although the digital copy was fine, with the alternative formats - newspaper articles, emails, interviews, letters, etc - seeing those on the page in different fonts and on separate pages would make the experience even better.
This book took me a little while to get into, but once I did, it was a fast and fun read. Let's get something straight - every character is hiding secrets and every character is kind of terrible. BUT, if you love rich people behaving badly sub-genre, then you'll love this book from Rachel Hawkins. It is like if Rebecca by Daphne DuMarnier and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo had a baby in the twenty-first century.
In this story we have multiple POVS - Camden, the unwitting heir to a legacy he doesn't want; his wife, Jules, who does want the inheritance; and Ruby, the now deceased matriarch who we meet through her letters to an unnamed recipient.
Camden is reluctant to return to his childhood home - Ashby House - to claim his inheritance. He is the only adopted son of the infamous Ruby McTavish who was kidnapped as a child but later recovered. Convinced by his wife, Jules, they make the trip across the country where they are confronted with family secrets, old wounds and trauma, and Ashby House itself.
Things I liked: The family ancestral home - Ashby House - in rural North Carolina was itself a character. Some of the descriptions were a bit heavy-handed, but the house definitely came alive and played an important part.
Like I said - everyone in the family, alive and dead, has secrets (or thinks they have secrets) and it takes a while for these to be revealed. But the multiple POVs (more on that in a minute) helped to keep the story moving. Ruby's POV was my favorite.
I sort of guessed the ending - at least part of it. But not all of it, which usually doesn't happen in a thriller (for me).
Things to Consider: There are MANY POVs. Most of which are in first person - Jules, Camden, Ruby (through her letters). On top of that there are also emails in first person and newspaper/blog articles - some of which are in first person. I got used to the format (it sort of follows a pattern), but on an ereader it was a little hard to decipher at first.
Camden and especially Jules break the fourth wall and talk directly to the reader, again channeling the gothic vibes of yore. I didn't love this, but it was consistent and worked pretty well, so wasn't a make it or break it choice.
The climax was basically told in flashback during the epilogue which took me out of the scene a little bit (although I understand she wanted to keep it another mystery for longer). The last two lines were a bit unnecessary and pedantic in my opinion, but others might like them. They do bring up some good ethical questions.
Overall I really like this book! Rachel Hawkins continues to deliver interesting, twisty plots with nuanced characters that we love to hate. I'll definitely keep picking up her books.