Summary of the story: there are five rich girls, who all have rich girl problems. My problem is that five is way too many characters, given that they all have the personality of cardboard cutouts. No, wait, cardboard’s too cheap… faux marble statues, maybe. The beginning was rather dull. I read on the back cover that one of the poor rich girls was going to die, and I looked forward to that because it meant one less POV to keep track of, but I still had to spend several long chapters reading about her organic baby food and her designer footwear. Then she died! Hooray!
But the book remained dull. I feel very disappointed, because I was in this for the torrid affairs and illegitimate love children and dirty secrets, but everything was told in such a dull way! This might be the problem: things were told. Every time that there was some buildup because a character hinted at some dark secret in their past, a couple of chapters later they told me about it. And those flashbacks were so dry, it felt like reading a newspaper article. Not even a juicy gossip magazine, just a boring newspaper that only gives you the bare facts. Oh, look, this character is a murderer. This one had an affair. This one likes to party. Yawn. The few bits of suspence came from Poppy’s death. Here at least the action took place in the present and there was something a stake. Was it murder? Were the other heiresses in danger? I was hoping more of them will die because I didn’t like them very much, but at least that part of the plot was entertaining.
The characters were also a disappointment. I read Pretty Little Liars and it was entertaining enough, but the characters were kind of immature since they were all dumb teens. This book has adult characters, so I assumed I would like it better — wrong. Despite their age, the Saybrook heiresses all act like dumb kids. The dialogue is a gold mine.
“That hat is hideous, by the way,” [Elizabeth] added, turning back into the bedroom.
It’s Hermès, Aster wanted to snap.
Poor Aster hasn’t grasped the idea that things can be both hideous and expensive. She might be my favourite character, just because she’s the dumbest. She spends the book miserable because her allowance is being cut and she’s forced to work and she doesn’t, like, know how to use Excel or anything.
Again, the plot about Poppy’s death is the one redeeming thing about the book because the girls finally start putting their heads together and they try to figure out the Big Dark Saybrook Secret. There was quite a lot of red herrings, and at one point nothing seemed to make sense, but the solution was very neat and made me want to smack my forehead because of course that’s what happened, that actually made sense! I was actually very pleased with the end and with the fact that tiny rays of character development started to appear over the horizon.
…Is what I would have liked to say, but then the epilogue is like “fuck that, maybe I was lying before and that is not the real solution of the mystery, maybe there are many Bigger Badder Darker Secrets yet to discover, so get ready for the next 12 books!!!” so I’m back to disappointment after all. If (when?) book #2 comes out, please bludgeon me over the head so I won’t read it. It’s for my own good.