The initial insult

Mindy McGinnis

Book - 2021

Ostracized by the elite community of Amontillado, Ohio, after the disappearance of her parents, Tress organizes a Halloween costume party at an abandoned house, where she launches a macabre plan to force a popular former friend to confess what she knows.

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Young Adult Area YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Mcginnis Mindy Checked In
Young adult fiction
New York, NY : Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers [2021]
Main Author
Mindy McGinnis (author)
First edition
Item Description
First book of a duology--Jacket.
Physical Description
369 pages ; 22 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

In this gothic thriller, first in a duology, McGinnis cleverly weaves elements from Edgar Allen Poe's stories to chronicle the dissolution of a friendship, culminating in a shocking act of vengeance. In Amontillado, Ohio, legacy is everything; founding families are venerated, even as their stately homes decay and their bloodlines wither. Those who can't fulfill expectations are shunned--like Tress, whose parents disappeared seven years ago while driving her friend Felicity home, leaving Tress in the dubious care of her outcast uncle. Tress has never believed that Felicity, found unconscious, remembers nothing, especially when Felicity turned her back on Tress like everyone else. Now a senior, Tress has the perfect plan to force Felicity to tell the truth: it involves a Halloween party at an abandoned estate, a set of manacles, a coal chute, and a ton of bricks. Tress and Felicity both narrate this nail-biter, providing compelling and competing narratives that create empathy for damaged, unlikable characters. Though occasionally straining credulity, the slowly unfolding mystery and chilling cliff-hanger will cement interest for the next volume.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Two girls recall the major events that forced them apart in an intricate, duology-opening story of mystery and revenge by McGinnis (Be Not Far from Here). Seven years ago in Amontillado, Ohio, Tress Montor's parents disappeared and her former best friend, Felicity Turnado, was found shivering by the river. Tress has lived with her grandfather in a trailer at his dodgy animal attraction ever since, and Felicity, the last to see Tress's folks, claims to remember nothing from that night and has distanced herself from Tress--except to buy drugs. With significant nods to Edgar Allan Poe's macabre work, everything comes to a head on Halloween night at the last party at the old Usher estate, which the town council plans to tear down. Alternating between the perspectives of Tress, Felicity, and a panther that escaped from the attraction, McGinnis succeeds in crafting an engaging tale, but the reasoning behind the girls' taking things to extremes feels underestablished, and poetic interludes from the panther fail to cohere with the overall narrative. Ages 14--up. Agent: Adriann Ranta Zurhellen, Foundry Literary. (Feb.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up--Tress Montor lost everything the night her parents disappeared seven years ago: her family, her friends, and the respect her last name usually demands in the town of Amontillado. Now she lives on the Amontillado Animal Sanctuary--what the locals call "the White Trash Zoo"--with her alcoholic grandfather Cecil and a motley assortment of animals. The town has turned its back on her, and she wants answers--or revenge. Felicity Turnado doesn't have a storied surname and everything that's perfect in her life she's earned on her own: her grades, her popularity, and the respect of the community. What isn't perfect is that her former best friend, Tress, won't even look at her. Felicity was with the Montors the night they vanished, but she's worked so hard to make the community forget she was there that she herself doesn't remember what happened. Sick of being the butt of everyone's jokes, Tress has a plan to get Felicity to talk--one that involves a costume party in the crumbling Usher House, an empty coal chute, and a pile of bricks. McGinnis draws heavily upon the works of Edgar Allan Poe to deliver a gripping modern retelling of "The Cask of Amontillado." Tress and Felicity are expertly fleshed out; the chapters are written from alternating viewpoints of the two girls across their entire friendship. Their linked tragedy and trauma is expressed in prose that is by turns gritty and heart-rending, and they join a lineup of strong, flawed, and intriguing McGinnis main characters. As the first book in a duology, the story ends in a cliff-hanger, which heightens anticipation for the second installment. Most characters are white. VERDICT Well-versed Poe fans will gobble this up, but the heartache, revenge, and anger that ooze from these pages should entice any reader.--Tyler Hixson, Brooklyn P.L.

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

Tress would kill to find out why her parents disappeared. In small-town Amontillado, Tress Montor had a seemingly normal life until her parents disappeared. That was seven years ago. Now living with her negligent grandfather at his questionable exotic animal attraction, the high school senior has become a pariah among her classmates. The one person who may know what happened is Felicity Turnado, who not only used to be best friends with Tress, but was the last one to see her parents alive. Told in alternating chapters from each girl's perspective, this thriller starts off as a slow burn with longer chapters establishing their personalities; the nature of the closed-minded, predominantly White town; and the mysterious disappearance. When Tress, bent on truth and revenge, sets up an interrogation of Felicity reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado," the story accelerates evenly with shorter, taut chapters delivering the final shocks. The narrative's changing timeline, as each girl remembers events from the past, answers questions and raises intrigue in equal measure; their experiences are gritty reflections of teen life. And in the true spirit of Poe, a black cat, in this case a panther from the zoo, adds another level of creepiness with intermittent free-verse poems told from its perspective. A sudden, nail-biting ending leaves the door open for the next installment of this duology. A dark, Poe-inspired thriller that lives up to the gothic master. (Thriller. 14-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.