BOOK REVIEW | The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

TITLE: The Cousins
AUTHOR: Karen M. McManus
PAGE COUNT: 325 pages
PUBLICATION DATE: 1 December 2020
GENRE: Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult & Contemporary

SYNOPSIS: 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.

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. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Many thank yous to Penguin Random House South Africa for sending a review copy my way!

When I heard Karen M. McManus was releasing a new mystery/thriller, I just knew I had to get my hands on it. I binge read her other books a while back and thoroughly enjoyed them, and this one was no different.

The Cousins is about family drama, greed and the darkest things money can make people do. The story follows cousins Milly, Aubrey and Jonah. The three barely know each other but are forced, by their parents, to spend the summer at their grandmother’s island resort. They only know their grandmother (who they have never met before) as the person who cut ties with all her children, many years before, without a reason and only the riddle “You know what you did”.

As time passes, the cousins realise that there’s more to their family history than their parents ever told them. When they begin investigating, deadly and tightly woven secrets start to untangle, and things quickly become as dark and violent as waves on a stormy night.

The characters immediately intrigued me. From the moment you meet not only the cousins but also their parents, you get the feeling that everyone is hiding something. As the story goes on, small secrets are revealed but as with most mysteries, the ending is the thing that ends up shocking you the most.

As an bookworm who has read countless mysteries and thrillers, I honestly expected to have guessed where the plot was heading but I was so far off, I had to laugh at myself. The plot twist managed to surprise me completely and in my opinion, that is the kind of thing that makes a book more memorable.

The writing was really well done and kept me intrigued from start to finish. Each chapter held a hidden mystery that I could not wait to uncover. The author gave the reader clues throughout the book but as soon as you think you have got it figured out, something completely different happens. I think the story was written really well, however it tended to get a bit all over the place now and then, and at some parts it felt as if too much was happening at once in contrast to the rather slow beginning of the story.

Overall, The Cousins was a really entertaining contemporary and mystery/thriller, and  it is one I recommend you check out!

‘Everybody has secrets,’ she says, taking a sip of her drink. ‘That’s nondebatable. The only question is whether you’re keeping your own, or someone else’s.’

Karen M. McManus is the #1 New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying, Two Can Keep a Secret, and One of Us Is Next. Her fourth novel, The Cousins, will publish in December 2020. Her work has been translated into more than 40 languages worldwide. Karen lives in Massachusetts and holds a master’s degree in Journalism from Northeastern University, which she mostly uses to draft fake news stories for her novels. 

For more information, visit or @writerkmc on Twitter and Instagram.

Keep reading and never stop telling stories.

9 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW | The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

  1. okay i just read this and i LOVED it so much!! ahh i definitely didn;t expect all that was going to happen and it was such a thrilling book!! i also thought i would be able to predict it but omg i didn’t see that plot twist coming 👀 i loved reading your review!! 100% agree with everything you’ve said here 💖

    Liked by 1 person

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