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  • Mandy McHugh

The Family Plot, Megan Collins: A Review

I'm a big Megan Collins fan. Behind the Red Door was one of my favorite reads last year, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on this one once I saw the cover reveal. I was thrilled to be approved for an eARC and quickly dove in.

To everyone else on the island, the Lighthouse family is weird. They're homeschooled, reclusive--and they spend the majority of their time studying old murder cases. For an island plagued by its own serial killer, this is enough to give them permanent outcast status. As the now-grown up children return home to mourn the death of their father, they are shocked to discover that the body of Dahlia's twin brother, Andy, is buried in their father's grave. Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery of what happened to Andy the night he went missing all those years ago, Dahlia is willing to do whatever it takes for the truth. I loved this book. First, while more of a slow-burn theatrical style with most of the action happening off-screen, the murder mystery was well-structured and executed beautifully. From the death of the father reuniting the siblings, to the discovery of the body, to the slow reveal of the Blackburn serial killer, the horrific details fuel the tension while also providing fascinating examples of the Lighthouses' life growing up. We get a stark portrayal of an obsession and the ways in which it feeds a toxic cycle of ruin. What really steals the show, though, are the characters. For all the murder and mayhem wreaked on the island, this book is about family, and if you liked the sibling relationships in Flanigan's Hill House on Netflix, you are going to love this. More than the mystery, Collins examines the intricacies of their relationships and how the consequences of their decisions echo through the years. Grief and identity are central here, but coping with depression and mental health are also important to the characters, and I was glad to see the quiet communication evolving throughout the character arcs. As the audience learns more about the family, we're essentially taking sides, solving the mysteries and using the limited knowledge to form opinions about the reliability of the narrator. And by establishing the Lighthouses as a spectacle, we're also forced to confront our own biases about that which we see as weird. I appreciated the fallout focus rather than the gratuity of violence; it felt like a realistic way to deal with extreme circumstances--a narrative choice that made this book all the more complex and interesting. Overall, The Family Plot is a layered family mystery with resonating themes and heart. I'd recommend to fans of Collins' other works, fans of Hill House/Bly Manor, or drama-forward suspense with familial implications. Out in August, add this to your TBR asap! Big thanks to Atria and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.

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