Saturday, December 11, 2021

Review: The Family Plot by Megan Collins

by Megan Collins
Release Date: August 17, 2021
2021 Atria Books
Kindle Edition; 320 Pages
ISBN: 978-1982163846
Audiobook: B08SWN2TPZ
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

2.5 / 5 Stars

With her father’s death, Dahlia returns to the house she has avoided for years. But as the rest of the Lighthouse family arrives for the memorial, a gruesome discovery is made: buried in the reserved plot is another body—Andy’s, his skull split open with an ax.

Each member of the family handles the revelation in unusual ways. Her brother Charlie pours his energy into creating a family memorial museum, highlighting their research into the lives of famous murder victims; her sister Tate forges ahead with her popular dioramas portraying crime scenes; and their mother affects a cheerfully domestic fa├žade, becoming unrecognizable as the woman who performed murder reenactments for her children. As Dahlia grapples with her own grief and horror, she realizes that her eccentric family, and the mansion itself, may hold the answers to what happened to her twin.
My Thoughts
The Family Plot certainly had an interesting concept, and I really liked the setting as it was creepy, having all the elements of a mystery story that I really like. And when I read the first chapter, I thought that this book was going to really go out of its way to incorporate that creepy style as it was interesting and bizarre, drawing me in right away to what was happening.  And from there it fell apart. 
I definitely had no issue with the completely weird family situation in which Dahlia grew up.  That it was bizarre is an understatement as she, and her siblings, were home schooled in the macabre, writing reports of serial killers as opposed to learning Math, Science, and English.  Dahlia's mother had apparently lost her parents to a serial killer and wanted to teach her children how to survive in world she saw full of death and darkness.  Okay, I can swallow that, if uneasily.  I can even swallow the ceremonies the family had to remember the victims of various serial killers.  Oh, it was macabre and I will admit to shuddering a bit, but not because of fear, but because it was so over the top.  I really felt like the author was throwing all of this at the reader to try and get a reaction, but when you do too much, the shock value kind of wears thin after a while, and the whole effect just becomes silly. I had difficulty connecting to the characters the way it was written, and really wished the author had used the spooky atmosphere of the house a bit more to develop her characters and the plot. 
I actually thought the title to this book was quite interesting, and quite clever. But the story itself was disjointed and I found Dahlia's inner monologue to be lacking.  There was so much telling rather than allowing the reader to try and figure things out, so it was rather easy to figure out who was actually responsible for the deed.  Except for the first chapter or so, the tension was rather lacking, and while I don't always like the use of dual timelines, I did wonder if maybe this book would have benefited from the use of one, or even the use of different POVs.  

The Family Plot had so much potential; it had the creepy atmosphere, the setting was perfect, and there was the dysfunctional family.  Unfortunately, the plot itself was lacking tension and was kind of bland, and I didn't really like the characters.  Overall, this wasn't really a mystery thriller, but an author's use of creepiness to try to set the scene rather than use tension, and it didn't really work.  I just couldn't suspend my belief in some of the things that were going on.