Read an ARC from NetGalley
Content warning: dead parents, seizures, car accidents, animal cruelty, animal death (off-screen), drug abuse, vomiting, bleeding
This book is so fun, in as much fun as a story about a friendship falling apart can be. Filled to the brim with Edgar Allan Poe references, this book is a treat. Tress Montor lives with Cecil, her grandfather and guardian, who lives in a trailer next to a questionably-legal zoo. Her former best friend Felicity Turnado has the disappearance of Tress’s parents to answer for. Then comes the Halloween party, then the wall, and the secrets come tumbling out.
The pacing in this book is simply delightful and there’s even segments from the point of view of a panther. Fun from start to finish.
So, one of my favorite things about “The Cask of Amontillado” is that you just accept that Montressor has to wall up Fortunato. This book thrives off that concept, leaning into the unfurling tapestry that is the slights both Tress and Felicity have committed against each other. Some of them are typical middle- and high-school pettiness. Other things are chilling in the depths of betrayal.
McGinnis, time and again, excels at gray morality. She writes girls who can neither be labeled “good” or “bad” so excellently. Each of our point of view characters can only be described as a product of their environment. Tress experiences a massive upheaval and complete lifestyle change when her parents go missing. The people of Amontillado, Ohio, do not make it easy for her.
Like in previous works, McGinnis is also careful to construct nuance around class and the tensions both interior and exterior. Tress is a fighter, but my heart ached for her need to just go back to being someone’s daughter. Deeply angry girls as a product of both circumstance and personality. I guess the thing I wish there was a little more of was the Tress of before-the-accident, but hopefully that gets explored in the second half of this story.