Monday, December 1, 2014

Suspicion by Alexandra Monir (Review)

Young Adult, Supernatural, Mystery
Publication.Date  December 9th 2014
Published By:  Delacorte Press
AuthorAlexandra Monir

Suspicion on Goodreads
My review copy:Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:

Mysterious. Magnificent. Creepy. Welcome to Rockford Manor.

"There's something hidden in the Maze." Seventeen-year-old Imogen has never forgotten the last words her father said to her seven years ago, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family's English country manor.

Haunted by her parents' deaths, Imogen moves to New York City with her new guardians. But when a letter arrives with the news of her cousin's untimely death, revealing that Imogen is now the only heir left to run the estate, she returns to England and warily accepts her role as duchess.

All is not as it seems at Rockford, and Imogen quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind the mansion's aristocratic exterior, hinting that the spate of deaths in her family were no accident. And at the center of the mystery is Imogen herself--and Sebastian, the childhood friend she has secretly loved for years. Just what has Imogen walked into?

Combining a fresh twist on the classic REBECCA with a spine-tingling mystery and powerful romance, SUSPICION is an action-packed thrill ride.


Someone like me can be born with so much, while another is forced to make do with so little. There is no rhyme or reason behind it … just luck.
“I know dark clouds will gather round me,.
I know the road is rough and steep.
But golden fields lie just beyond me,
Where weary eyes no more will weep. …”
I slowly turn to face the Maze, which towers high beside the Shadow Garden. Bordered on all sides by ten-foot-tall pine hedges, the Maze is rumored to be a marvel of a puzzle, filled with treacherous plants and surprises that make it suitable only for “mature children” and adults. I’ve never been inside, but Mum and Dad have promised that I can finally enter when I turn thirteen.
My breath catches in my throat as an arm snakes through the hedges. A familiar shock of brown hair emerges, and I exhale with relief.
“Dad! What were you doing in there? Mum said you’d gone inside.”
He looks taken aback at the sound of my voice, but then he smiles.
“Imogen, darling. Can you keep a secret?”
“Of course I can!”
Dad seems different somehow—his face is redder than usual, his eyes glassy—and I have the fleeting thought that perhaps he’s eaten one too many tea sandwiches.
“There’s something hidden in the Maze,” he says quietly.

     Suspicion is a very hard book to review. Very hard. This is a supernatural mystery set in England and dealing with English aristocrats, creepy mazes, family secrets and quite a handful of dead bodies. At least that's what it is by definition, because in truth, it really isn't any of these things. The idea and the elements are there, yes, but the execution is so messy, so utterly far-fetched and unrealistic (even for a supernatural mystery), that, ultimately, this book is about everything and nothing at the same time. 

    I finished this book an I sat there wondering: what exactly did I just read and what in the world was the point of it all?

     The story starts off when Imogen is only 10-years-old and visiting her grandfather's manor in England. One day her dad tells her: "There is something hidden in the maze" and on the same night he dies in a fire. So does Imogen's mother, uncle and aunt. And here's where it all starts to fall apart. Imogen moves in with a family in NYC and she is very determined to put the past behind her. She shuts out all of her remaining family members - including her grandfather and her cousin, Lucia - and refuses to ever go back to the manor again. Ever. Never-ever. Until, 10 years later, she's informed about her cousin and grandfather's deaths and the fact that she is now a duchess and a sole owner of the mansion. And the decision to go back is made literally on the spot, in a blink of an eye, and screw all the years she's been swearing never to go back again. Screw character consistency, let's go completely nonsensical!

    We then suffer through about 200 pages about nothing in particular. We read about Imogen learning the etiquette and some English history, we go to a polo game, we listen to her obsessing over Sebastian, interacting with her friend from New York, discussing a gap year and unwillingness to study at NYC.. And it goes on and on. Non of it - or almost non of it - is relevant to anything and could easily be edited out. Because, really, it just makes focusing on the plot line very difficult and eventually you lose sight of what really matters - the deaths, the maze, Imogen's mysterious powers that she is so good at ignoring. Instead, it's all about Sebastian and the fact that he chose Lucia over Imogen.

     Imogen is probably one of the least likeable characters I've been introduced to. Possibly ever. She is just so self-absorbed, she can't see past the tip of her nose. Everything is always about her and her one-sided love or affection for Sebastian. She is back at the manor where so many of her family members have mysteriously died. She is now a duchess, responsible for running the entire place. She needs to get education, she needs to figure out her duties, she needs to start asking the right questions about the past. And then there's also her own mysterious ability - how come she's not curious about that? But instead of asking: How did my parents die? What really happened to my cousin? What in the world am I going to do about the whole duchess business?, she is asking this: "Why were Sebastian and his parents so aloof, yet Theo so friendly? Why are they going ahead with this dinner party that they so clearly don’t want to host? And most of all, why does Sebastian still have this hold on me—as if no time at all has passed?" Oh my gosh, girl! Get over yourself and get over this guy! He chose your cousin, he never wanted you, don't you have any self-respect?

     And that's even beside the point, because how can we even talk about things like one-sided love or choosing one over the other, when these are just kids we're talking about. Imogen was 10 at the time, Lucia and Sebastian were 12, for sanity's sake! They are just children, they don't even know what love or affection is. It's more of a "I like playing with her better than you because she has better toys" at this point. Even at 17 you can't talk about true love, not in most cases. And she really should be more interested - of affected by - the deaths of her parents, than some snotty little boy.

     And don't even get me started on that ending. Seriously, it just boils my blood. Sebastian spends 10 years dating Lucia and everyone sees just how much he loves her and how heartbroken he is by her death. But when Imogen shows up, he says to her - and I kid you not - you are the one I should have been with, you are the one for me, I'm falling in love with you! Now, where do you find such dedicated, noble young man, I shall get myself one ASAP, for they seem like wonderful and trust-worthy life partners *snickers*

     But the awkward and distasteful "love" story aside, what about the maze? What about the deaths? What about Imogen's powers? When will I get some answers? When will she finally start asking the right questions? Well, not until the last 50 pages as it turns out. And I actually thought the author had something cool there, a good idea that could have made for a really exciting and compelling read, if only it was executed better. If it wasn't all crammed into the last section of the book and completely overshadowed by irrelevant nuances and boring events. But the idea was ultimately wasted. The twist at the end was kind of cool in a weird, sketchy way that fans of V.C. Andrews would probably appreciate (and no, I'm not talking about the incest, don't get your hopes high), but it was all too messy, too unrealistic, and too am-I-seriously-supposed-to-buy-that?!

     So, to sum it all up, Suspicion had plenty of potential, but sadly almost non of it was realized. The writing isn't horrible, but it's far from mesmerizing, it's just decent. And if only the plot line was more organized and the pacing more even, this could have been a decent story. Instead it is a mess, and one that is likely to give you a bad headache. And I am sorry to say all those things about someone's hard work, but I really feel that this book is not ready to be released into the world just yet. Some parts should be re-written, some edited out altogether, and, if cleaned up, this really has the potential to be a great story. The way it is now, I am glad to be done with it.

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