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Title: The Cousins

Author: Karen M. McManus

Published: 3rd of December 2020 – Penguin

Format: eARC (Netgalley) – 304 pages


Hello Hello! How are you?

Today I’m bringing you a very, very exciting post as today is my spot on the blog tour organised by the amazing Dave from @The_WriteReads for The Cousins by Karen M. McManus.

When Dave announced this tour a while ago, I still hadn’t read any of this author’s books, but they were all on my list. Since then, I’ve read One of Us Is Lying and loved it, and have One of Us is Next lined up for the end of the month!

I did, however, know that this was going to be a book and an author for me. Ever since I read A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson this summer, I have fallen in love with the YA mystery/thriller genre and I can’t wait to read more. This blog tour was a great pick for me!

Thank you so much to Dave, Karen and the team at Penguin for letting me be part of this tour, and for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.



The Storys are the envy of their neighbours: owners of the largest property on their East Coast island, they are rich, beautiful, and close. Until it all falls apart. The four children are suddenly dropped by their mother with a single sentence:

You know what you did.

They never hear from her again.

Years later, when 18-year-old cousins Aubrey, Milly and Jonah Story receive a mysterious invitation to spend the summer at their grandmother’s resort, they have no choice but to follow their curiosity and meet the woman who’s been such an enigma their entire lives.

This entire family is built on secrets, right? It’s the Story legacy.

This summer, the teenagers are determined to discover the truth at the heart of their family. But some secrets are better left alone.



The Cousins by Karen M. McManus is a YA mystery in which we meet the Story family. This is a rich and influential family, but the children of Mildred Story have been disinherited and so their own children have never met their grandmother, that is until they are invited to the island where she lives to spend the summer.

I said it before, 2020 has been a marvellous year for me reading-wise and I’ve been able to discover so many amazing books and dabble in some different genres. I started reading YA mysteries in the summer and I haven’t been able to stop ever since, I’ve been in a right mystery mood, so this was the best pick for me. As soon as Dave announced this tour, I knew I needed to take part, and I’m so glad I did.



I usually don’t like the whole “rich family” trope where people own entire islands and boss staff about, it’s not a setting I particularly enjoy, but it didn’t bother me at all here, because, within the rich Story family, some of them are struggling day-to-day. This nuance made it feel a lot more real than some other books I’ve read with this theme.

This book is set primarily on the Gull Cove Island where Mildred Story lives. This island is basically a resort for the rich and famous, and Aubrey, Milly and Jonah (the Story grandchildren), get to come to the island for the summer and hopefully meet the grandmother they have heard about all their lives.

The island was really well described and even though I do get a bit annoyed at such rich and prosperous settings, this one didn’t bother me and I actually found some of the places in this book quite quaint.



Aubrey: I identified with Aubrey the most because even though she is a Story, she is not like Milly who is elegant and refined and sassy. Aubrey kind of takes a back seat when Milly is around, but at the same time, she doesn’t, that probably doesn’t make any sense now it’s outside of my head. I liked Aubrey, I thought I wouldn’t when I started reading this book, but once I knew more about her, she was a really nice person. I loved her relationship with Milly, they got on so well together.

Milly: Milly is the typical rich, beautiful girl, but she also has brains, and sass and she was great to read about. Again, I thought that I wouldn’t like her that much, but she wasn’t at all what I was expecting. From the first few chapters, I thought she was going to be really shallow, but she completely changed my opinion once things started to happen.

Jonah: I really liked Jonah right from the start, and there are a lot of revelations about this character, so I can’t say too much, but I never expected that! All three of these characters surprised me and I loved how they were all so different, but came together for the same purpose, I think they compliment each other really well.

Mildred: Mildred is the cousins’ grandmother and I have to say, she is exactly what I expected, the typical stiff upper lip, I-am-better-than-you, rich person. This is one of the reasons I don’t like reading books with rich people because I just can’t handle their attitude, especially with money, but we don’t get to see that much of this character, so it didn’t bother me, and in the end, well, let’s just say, it was a kind of poetic justice.

The other Storys: I just wanted to talk a little bit about the other Storys, that is, the children, and the cousins’ parents. We got to know them through some other points of view and it was quite interesting to be honest because one of them remained a bit of a mystery for a while. I think it was also interesting to see how they lived before they were disinherited and how they lived after. Quite a few surprises here too.



I’m not going to go into too much depth here because I’m worried I’m going to say something about the plot, but there are lots and lots of things happening in this book. It’s not a murder mystery, but there are so many secrets and questions and the cousins really come together to work it all out.

No one really knows what was going through Mildred’s head all those years ago until the end of the book, and that was honestly so shocking, I never saw it coming, but I think it was really well done!

There are a lot of instances where money doesn’t seem to matter to some of the characters, but for others, it did and I found that really good, not everyone is flush with money, and the fact that this was a lot more realistic really helped me enjoy it, as I don’t usually like books that focus so heavily on money. It focused more on the people, what had happened in the past and what was happening in the present, and I really appreciated that.

I’ve only read two of Karen M. McManus’s books so far, but I’m pretty sure they all centre around secrets. I’m not that much of a fan of reading books about secrets, especially family secrets, however, I’m a big fan of Pretty Little Liars, and this book kind of reminded me of that, and I didn’t get the feeling that it was actually a book about family secrets. That sounds strange, but you’ll have to read it to find out.



Overall, this was a really different and great take on the family secret trope that I’m not that much of a fan of, but Karen really seemed to change my mind with her book, because now I’m searching for more books just like this one.

I already enjoyed Karen’s writing style in her book One of Us is Lying that I finished a few weeks ago, and this one was just as fluid and just as enjoyable. it was also kind of nostalgic reading this book because it reminded me of We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, which is one of my favourite books from my teenage years, it had the same island family secret vibes and the massive bombshell that I really liked.

I gave this book 4 stars, I really enjoyed it. It definitely surprised me, I knew I was going to like it when I started it, but I had no idea where it was going, and it ended up being a really clever plot twist. It was great to see these characters come together to solve the mystery, and I’ll be soon diving into more books by this author to do just the same thing. I highly recommend this book, and this author, you won’t regret it.

Thank you once again to Dave, Karen and Penguin for letting me take part in this tour, it was so fun and I can’t wait to read everyone’s thoughts on this book.

That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed this post, see you soon, stay safe,

Ellie xx



Atmosphere – 6.5

Start – 6.5

Pacing – 7

Ending – 8

Characters – 7.5

Theme – 7

Style – 8

Total = 50.5



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.

Karen’s Links: WebsiteInstagramTwitterGoodreads


If you would like to purchase this book, you can find it here:  Amazon UK  – Amazon FR  – Amazon US – The Book Depository (affiliate link) – Audible FR (affiliate link) – WaterstonesBarnes and NobleAudible UKKobo

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  1. I had to read the very last pages three times because I couldn’t believe the twist thrown in at the end ❤️. Very good book and great review!

  2. I’m glad you liked it Ellie! YA mystery can be one of my favorite genres but sometimes I really hate how authors deal with certain plots so I’m excited to read this one! Karen M McManus is definitely an author that I’ve enjoyed reading!

    1. Yes, I love certain mysteries, but some are so boring and really drag me down, this one was really well done though! I’ve got to read more of her books but so far they’ve been successes! Hope you love it! 🙂

  3. Great review! I’m so looking forward to reading this one this weekend 😀 I’ve really enjoyed McManus’ YA mystery/thrillers and I have a feeling it’ll be quite the same with this one!

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