I was all set to recommend this book wholeheartedly, but it falters in the last five pages or so, which is SO unfortunate. It was SO GOOD up till then. I will definitely check this author out again, to see if she can stick the landing, because the writing and the story was grand.
The MacBride family is a well-off, well-established academic family: father Rowan the dean of the local prestigious prep school and mother Lydia a local judge. Their children are smart and accomplished, and all of them went to their father’s school (the Cath). They’re privileged, but normal, with a variety of children and jobs and normal-people problems.
The Kellaney family is about as far from the MacBrides as can be. Single mom Heather is a deeply disturbed agoraphobic who home-schools her child, Darcy, who is the center of her world. Darcy and Heather have a fairly unhinged, co-dependent relationship. Heather is convinced that Darcy will win a scholarship to the Cath, and their lives will forever be changed for the better. When the scholarship goes to a young musical prodigy instead, a lifelong hatred and a slow-burning revenge plot begins.
The story is told in chunks, from different families and perspectives. At first, Darcy’s story is tragic and empathizeable (shut up, that’s totally a word). The MacBrides DO seem smug, and Lydia’s journals hint at deep secrets. But as the revenge plan unfurls, Darcy becomes less sympathetic antihero and more bananapants psychopath.
The writing reminded me a lot of Tana French – lots of chilling details; lots of slow, building dread; lots of wondering what the heck could possibly come next. I was totally hooked. And then the end just sputters to a stop! The wrap-up is super-quick, there’s no real sense of closure, and the deep dark secrets hidden in Lydia MacBride’s diaries turn out to be not only kind of lame, but also not all that secret. For all the great buildup, the end was a huge let-down. But the writing is good enough that I will definitely seek out more of this author.