Category Archives: Book Review

Review: The Family Plot

The Family Plot

The Family Plot
By Megan Collins
Atria Books, 9781982163846, August 2021, 320pp.

The Short of It:

The Family Plot is one of those “treat” reads. One that makes you love reading all over again.

The Rest of It:

At twenty-six, Dahlia Lighthouse is haunted by her upbringing. Raised in a secluded island mansion deep in the woods and kept isolated by her true crime-obsessed parents, she is unable to move beyond the disappearance of her twin brother, Andy, when they were sixteen.

After several years away and following her father’s death, Dahlia returns to the house, where the family makes a gruesome discovery: buried in their father’s plot is another body—Andy’s, his skull split open with an ax. ~ Indiebound

Let’s just say that discovering her missing brother’s body in her own backyard is enough to make Dahlia lose all hope in her true-crime obsessed family. Andy was her twin, but he was also everything to her. Basically, the other half of who she was. Losing her brother at the age of sixteen, with his “goodbye” note the only thing left behind, meant that she saw him every time she turned a corner, searched endlessly online for him, and basically lost touch with her two other siblings because they didn’t seem to understand the depth of her loss. They had each other, and she had no one.

When their father dies and they all return home it’s not a happy homecoming at all. Too many memories buried in that house. They were raised by parents who were obsessed with true crime, specifically the local murders which involved many young women, and the killer was never found. Their walls covered with the news of those murders, gruesome pictures and even dioramas that Dahlia’s sister constructed as a way to work through the horror.

When Andy’s body is discovered in their own backyard, Dahlia cannot make sense of it. He’s been gone all this time and yet, he was right there. How did he end up there? Who killed him? Is it related to the other killings on the island?

This was a marvelous read. Fun, twisty, not that predictable. I enjoyed spending time with this quirky family and I could not turn the pages fast enough. I was hoping it would be good but it will probably end up on my fave list at the end of the year. I was happily surprised by how much I loved this one.

Recommend.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Hamnet

Hamnet

Hamnet
By Maggie O’Farrell
Vintage, 9781984898876, May 2021, 320pp.

The Short of It:

Did you know that Hamnet and Hamlet are one in the same?

The Rest of It:

Maggie O’Farrell wanted to give a voice to the boy we knew so little about. Hamnet, the son of William Shakespeare, who died at the age of eleven. The thing is, there is no record of Hamnet’s cause of death, anywhere. His death is believed to be caused by the plague, but no where is this confirmed. In O’Farrell’s novel, the way Hamnet dies is quite different from what you’d expect. Cracking open that first page of a book titled HAMNET, and especially since the author wanted nothing more than to give a voice to this boy, you’d expect the story to be all about Hamnet, but instead, it’s about his mother, Agnes and really motherhood in general.

As I was reading this book, I fell into the flow of the writing. It seemed poetic to me. I lingered here and there because of how melodious the words were as they rolled off the page. This was, dare I say it, a pleasant read even though it’s about death, the plague, and grief.

Telling us about Hamnet, through the grief of his mother was an interesting choice. Powerful at times, but there was a tiny touch of magical realism (in my opinion) that took me out of the narrative for a minute and I was left reading that section over and over again to make sense of it and to consider why the author chose to go that route.

We discussed this for my book club. I’d say that most liked it a lot, some loved it, a couple weren’t impressed. I loved the writing but honestly,  I expected more of Hamnet and his famous father. William Shakespeare is never named in the story. He’s the boy’s father, the Latin tutor, and eventually the playwright. It’s not until the very end that you are even introduced to his craft. I will say that the ending was quite thoughtful and a touch sad.

This is a book that will stay with me, even though it left me wanting more.

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.