Tress Montor knows that her family used to mean something—until she didn’t have a family anymore. When her parents disappeared seven years ago while driving her best friend home, Tress lost everything. She might still be a Montor, but the entire town shuns her now that she lives with her drunken, one-eyed grandfather at what locals refer to as the “White Trash Zoo,” – a wild animal attraction featuring a zebra, a chimpanzee, and a panther, among other things.
Felicity Turnado has it all – looks, money, and a secret that she’s kept hidden. She knows that one misstep could send her tumbling from the top of the social ladder, and she’s worked hard to make everyone forget that she was with the Montors the night they disappeared. Felicity has buried what she knows so deeply that she can’t even remember what it is… only that she can’t look at Tress without having a panic attack.
But she’ll have to.
Tress has a plan. A Halloween costume party at an abandoned house provides the ideal situation for Tress to pry the truth from Felicity – brick by brick – as she slowly seals her former best friend into a coal chute. With a drunken party above them, and a loose panther on the prowl, Tress will have her answers – or settle for revenge.
In the first book of this duology, award-winning author Mindy McGinnis draws inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe and masterfully delivers a dark, propulsive mystery in alternating points of view that unravels a friendship . . . forevermore.
I’m such a fan of this author. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to pull my chin off the floor after finishing one of her books. She’s a master at shocking surprises.
At the heart of it, this story is about friendship – the sparkly highs, ugly lows, misunderstandings, backstabbing moments and all. Your initial beliefs about what transpired between Tress and Felicity to get them to this point will be destroyed and reformed by the end. Their alternating POVs and the varying timelines are perfect and crucial to the story. It’s mentioned the author drew inspiration for this novel from Poe and it’s creatively interwoven with a certain darkness.
McGinnis does an incredible job at portraying realistic teens. The topics of drugs, sex, drinking, and the downsides of social media are prevalent throughout the story and dealt with authentically. Characterization is exceptional.
The girls’ fading friendship is gradually revealed layer by layer, but there’s also the big question – what happened to Tress’s parents? I listened to NetGalley’s audiobook version of the novel, but feel like I might have missed some clues. If I’d had a book ARC, I definitely would have been going back and double-checking some details. While in a state of shock over the ending, I forgot this was a duology, then was so relieved I’d be able to see what becomes of these characters.
This book is tragic, dark, compelling, and such a well done thriller. Some chapters are very short and may have just a sentence – but that one sentence is powerful and conveys so much. Just another reason why McGinnis is an auto-buy author for me.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.