Book Review: The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

Title: The Cousins
Karen M. McManus
Release Date:
December 1, 2020
YA, Mystery, Thriller
Rating: ★★★★★

Thank you to Delacorte press for and advance finished copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review!


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 isnot 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.


I’m a huge Karen M. McManus fan. She knows how to write a good mystery, one that needs to be read in one sitting. I always think I know where the story is going and yet somehow each time McManus manages to catch me off guard.

The Cousins follows three characters; Aubrey, Milly and Jonah. Years ago their parents were cut off by their mother and each claims they have no idea why but secrets always come out in the end.
The setting of this Martha’s Vineyard wannabe island of the rich and famous was so much fun. You have the exclusiveness, a bitter grandma with a grudge and her bitch-pack along with the nice townies caught in the crossfire. We even got a fancy gala thrown in. It had all the makings of a classic “rich people problems” story but McManus gave it her classic touch and ended up making it her own. It’s definitely far from typical with a cast of characters who are anything but conceited, cold or stereotypical.

Milly, Jonah and Aubrey meshed so well together and I loved them all! Aubrey started out so sweet, not one to rock the boat and her development was so nice to see. Ironically I saw a lot of myself in her so I really felt a connection to her beyond just having the same name. Jonah was a bit of a prick with a chip on his shoulder but he grew on me by the end, especially when we learned his story. Milly was one I was unsure of. I thought she was going to be this comes-from-money sharp tongued brat use to getting her way but that was not the case at all. Their relationship and seeing them come together was my favorite part of this book.

That mystery though was brutal. I was a few chapters in and I thought I had it all figured out. To be fair I had half of the mystery solved, but this book just goes to show that never give up on a mystery halfway through. It might surprise you in the end.

If you’re a McManus fan you won’t be disappointed in The Cousins. Even if you aren’t a fan, if love a good mystery that will keep you guessing until the end I highly recommend picking this one up. I actually think it’s her best book yet with a touch more of maturity than her previous novels. The ending wasn’t open-ended per say, but I’m definitely hoping we get to see a bit more of the Story family in the future.

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