The last laugh

Mindy McGinnis

Book - 2022

In this conclusion to her book The initial insult, the author provides Edgar Allan Poe-inspired chills and shocking twists.

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Young Adult Area YOUNG ADULT FICTION/McGinnis, Mindy Checked In
Thrillers (Fiction)
Fantasy fiction
Young adult fiction
New York, NY : Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers [2022]
Main Author
Mindy McGinnis (author)
First edition
Physical Description
374 pages ; 22 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

McGinnis pulls out all the stops for this darkly thrilling conclusion to her Poe-inspired duology, which picks up where The Initial Insult (2021) ended. The town of Amontillado, Ohio, is focused on the search for missing golden girl Felicity, whom everyone believes will eventually turn up--except for Tress, who entombed Felicity's body during a Halloween party. Wracked with guilt at a scare tactic taken too far, Tress is haunted by the sound of Felicity's beating heart emanating from their best-friend necklace. Additionally, Tress continues to search for the truth about her missing parents, information long buried by Tress' cousin Kermit "Ribbit" Usher. Ribbit, the so-called last Usher, narrates in alternating chapters while he plans Tress' murder and his own fiery revenge on the classmates who livestreamed his humiliation during the fated Halloween party. The dual narratives create crackling tension, until they converge into an explosion of stunning revelations, betrayals, and deaths on the night of homecoming. McGinnis shrewdly blends familiar, and not-so-familiar, Poe tales into an addictive gothic horror story for older teens. Fans of the first volume will not be disappointed.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up--The town of Amontillado is reeling. Felicity Turnado is missing. Kermit "Ribbit" Usher has gone viral, after partygoers recorded his drunken shenanigans and livestreamed them. Tress Montor is the only one who knows the truth of last night--that she murdered Felicity--but she's determined to keep the secret for the rest of her life. Which might not be that long, considering she is currently bleeding out due to being attacked by the panther that got loose from the Amontillado Animal Sanctuary. As Tress fights for her life against infection--and the guilt over what she has done--Ribbit is busy exacting twofold revenge: against the classmates who've ruined his life, and a revenge 18 years in the making against his own family. The second book of McGinnis's latest duology picks up hours after The Initial Insult, with alternating perspectives between Tress and Ribbit and verse chapters from the perspective of Rue the orangutan. McGinnis continues drawing inspiration from the works of Edgar Allen Poe, this time more heavily from "The Tell-tale Heart" and "The Fall of the House of Usher." Suspension of disbelief is required a little more this time around--part of the plot revolves around characters willingly setting themselves on fire, with a teacher's permission--but it all serves to deliver a sequel that is just as thrilling and dark, if not as cohesive, as its predecessor. VERDICT A serviceable ending to a dark and twisted tale. Definitely hand over to readers of the first book.--Tyler Hixson

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

While one cousin grapples with murder, another seeks revenge in this Edgar Allen Poe--inspired sequel to The Initial Insult (2021). Picking up where the first novel ended, this duology closer once again follows Tress Montor in mostly White, small-town Amontillado, Ohio. Still looking for answers about her parents' mysterious disappearance 7 years ago, Tress is also haunted à la "The Tell-Tale Heart" by the murder of Felicity Turnado, whom she entombed alive in the previous entry. Alternating with her first-person narration are chapters from her often taunted cousin, Kermit "Ribbit" Usher. Reminiscent of the title character in Poe's "Hop-Frog," Ribbit plans for a deadly revenge against his tormentors as well as a heroic rescue of Felicity and a family-ordered killing. As before, the alternating point-of-view chapters, with taut storytelling, dark twists, and allusions to Poe, effectively play off one another. Reinforcing the converging storylines are interspersed cryptic free-verse poems by Rue, a caged orangutan who lives at the illegal exotic animal attraction owned by Tress' grandfather. The overall effect this time ups the mystery, intensity, and horror (emphasis on the latter!), with a satisfying ending delivering answers about ongoing family questions and clashes. Readers must be familiar with the first book to fully appreciate this one. Masterfully modernizing the gothic horror genre, McGinnis outdoes herself. (Thriller. 14-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.