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The rules are really simple. Listen carefully, do your research, trust no one, and run for your life.
So, will you play?
Harriet “Harry” Reed is a novelist on the brink of stardom and her fiance, Edward, is almost too good to be true. Just as Harry settles into the bliss that is her life with Edward, his family interrupts with a reappearance, wanting nothing more than to bring Edward and Harry into the fold.
Edward’s family is the embodiment of old American money. For decades, they have dominated the headlines and pulled all sorts of devious strings. Edward left it all behind to forge his own path, but there are eyes and ears everywhere. To some, it may seem it was only a matter of time before Edward, now alongside Harry, would be pulled back in.
Despite severing ties, Edward is next in line to inherit the centuries’ worth of Holbeck wealth. Harry is initially drawn to the glamour and sophistication of the Holbecks, who seem just a bit too eager to get to know her and welcome her to the family.
Everything changes when Harry meets Robert Holbeck, Edward’s inescapable and magnetic father. At their first meeting, Robert gives Harry a cassette tape, revealing shocking confessions, under the guise of him wanting Harry to write his book for him.
This cassette tape is the beginning of the end.
Despite her excitement and nervousness over receiving the tape from Robert, Harry can’t help but wonder, why her? Something capable of destroying everything rests in Harry’s hands. As Harry listens to more and more of the tape, she must also continue to be the funny and brave Harry the Holbecks are still getting to know.
As if the cassette tape wasn’t enough, Harry must also participate in the disturbing holiday games the Holbecks enjoy a bit too much for her comfort. Following the rules begins to become harder and harder.
Thoughts On The Plot
I really enjoyed this book. Everything Harry uncovers has a meaning and is linked in some way. The twists along the way were also really enjoyable.
The Holbecks use their wealth as a weapon. They prey upon the weak within their own families. Subjecting new and young family members to disturbing games under the guise of “holiday fun”.
The plot slowly unfolds, with very few spots where it feels muddled. Harry does a fantastic job of staying on track and organized in her search to find the truth. Though this might simply be because she is a writer.
Catherine Steadman really pulled me in with this one. It is dangerous, dark, thrilling, and glamorous.
Something I also enjoyed, was the mini-story within a story.
The cassette tape is its own sort of mini-story. Not only does it work, but it is also an important aspect of the story. If you can read between the lines, the cassette tape sort of “softens” the blow of the twist towards the end of the story where the truth is revealed.
I also find it funny that Robert gives Harry a cassette tape, which she then has to go hunt down a cassette tape player to even be able to listen to what is on the tape.
Thoughts On The Characters
Harry comes off as fairly average, despite the baggage she has been carrying for over a decade. We get the story from Harry’s point of view, so when we do hear from Edward, it is from Harry’s point of view.
The Holbecks are all attractive, wealthy, and overly welcoming to Harry. Something that is a bit worrisome to Harry but also a relief. But despite their eagerness to welcome her into the family. Harry finds herself swept up in the family’s opulence and wealth.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading about each of these characters. Because it was only Harry’s point of view, I didn’t get too confused about who was who.
I also love the little relationship that quickly develops between Harry and Billie. (IYKYK)
Edward can be a bit bland at times. He feels less rounded out than Harry, but as I said earlier, that may be because the book is told from Harry’s point of view.
The Holbeck’s are truly a mixed bag. Like any family, no family member is truly exactly alike.
I really enjoyed this book. The ending felt a tiny bit haphazard, now that I have had a little bit of time to let the story sit in my head.
But I genuinely couldn’t wait to see how the book would end.
The audiobook is also such a treat. Catherine Steadman reads the book herself and adds in little things like the sound of a phone, during times when a character is speaking on the phone.
Adding in the little crackles of an old cassette playing in its player.
I recommend this book, but I HIGHLY recommend this audiobook.
I don’t think I have listened to an audiobook read by its author, however, Catherine Steadman does her own book justice and I LOVED it.
Have you read The Family Game?