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The Cousins

The Cousins Ultimate Blog Tour #Gifted

I am so pleased to be part of the first stop on the Ultimate Blog Tour for The Cousins! This is a highly anticipated novel by author Karen M. McManus, who you may know from her other books including One of Us is Lying. A big thank you to both @WriteReadsTours and @PenguinPlatform for gifting me an advanced copy of The Cousins to review.

The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

Title: The Cousins

Author: Karen M. McManus

Publisher: Penguin

Published: 3rd December 2020

Genre: YA Mystery

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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 – Review

If you are looking for an intriguing new YA mystery then Karen M. McManus’ latest novel, The Cousins, is exactly what you are looking for! I read the first few pages as soon as I received my advanced copy, went to bed and realised I was already hooked. Yes it was a late night. Although the premise of a wealthy family with a lot of secrets is not new, having multiple perspectives and a wider than normal cast of key characters provides a refreshing experience.

The novel revolves around the Story family which includes three cousins Milly, Aubrey and Jonah. The wider cast also the cousins’ grandmother and their parents, whom she disinherited but none of them know why. All they have is a note saying “You know what you did.” This is where the mystery begins but with a whole host of others secrets to be discovered, individual agendas playing a strong role and people not being who they seem… There are so many great twists to keep you wanting to read on.


Milly is beautiful, observant and clever. She is the girl that usually knows how to get what she wants. Sadly, the things she wants the most have never been within her reach. She dreams of the grandmother she has never known and the life that she could have led had her mother not been disinherited. I really like how her character develops in the novel and what a strong driving force she is.

Aubrey is the most likeable of the three cousins. She seems like a genuinely nice person from the beginning and it is nice to see how well she gets on with Milly. You can imagine how strong their relationship would have been if they had spent more time together as children.

From the beginning Jonah is the odd one out between the cousins. He starts the story wanting to keep his life private but, as in all good mystery novels and indeed families, secrets have a habit of coming out. All I will say is that he has a lot going on.

The cousins Milly, Aubrey and Jonah each have their own chapters and perspectives, which really helps us to get to know them as characters. Each individual voice feels authentic and the book flows really well between them. Despite being very different people, they share a lot of issues. The disinheritance leaves a lingering grief that affects them all.


I really like how the story is set on Gull Cove Island as it gives the feeling of a self-contained little world that people want to escape to… and from. The descriptions of the island are lovely. It feels a little like a cross between vacationing in the Hamptons and Kellerman’s resort, with wealthy guests that always want to return. Exclusivity is the name of the game. Even getting a job there requires either a lot of luck or having enough connections to pull strings. I really like how the cousin’s return to the childhood home of their parents as they try to piece together what went wrong all of those years ago.


Family is the biggest theme in the story, alongside wealth and power. “Family first, always” was the Story family motto. It is great to see the younger generation of the family reconnecting despite the gravity of problems passed down from the older generations. I don’t want to talk too much about the themes as I wouldn’t want to give any of the mysteries away but it is all done really well.

My Thoughts

I think it is because of the multiple perspectives that the story takes a little longer to build up than your usual mystery novel. The background information is necessary and the setup is very enjoyable. Although the pace is slower to start with, once it gets going it really does lead to an explosive finale! The Cousins is thoroughly addictive. I really enjoyed the wide cast of characters. There are numerous twists and many that I didn’t see coming. If you like YA mystery stories then you should definitely add The Cousins to your reading list. Karen M. McManus’ is definitely on my authors to watch out for list and I look forward to reading her other novels.

If you liked this story then I highly recommend that you check out The Inheritance Games, which I reviewed for a blog tour earlier.

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  • 17th November 2020 at 8:46 am
    Ellie Rayner

    Great review, I really enjoyed this book too and thought Aubrey was so lovely! 🙂

  • 18th November 2020 at 3:17 am

    Loved your review. I enjoyed the book too. Aubrey was my favorite cousin but Archer tugged at my heart a lot.

  • 7th December 2020 at 3:25 pm

    Great review, I’m definitely interested in reading this one!

    • 9th December 2020 at 9:51 am

      Thank you! It is definitely worth picking up if you fancy a mystery 🙂 I think it is going to be really popular.


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