Thursday, December 10, 2020

The Initial Insult (The Initial Insult, #1) by Mindy McGinnis

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Welcome to Amontillado, Ohio, where your last name is worth more than money, and secrets can be kept… for a price.

Tress Montor knows that her family used to mean something—until she didn’t have a family anymore. When her parents disappeared seven years ago while driving her best friend home, Tress lost everything. She might still be a Montor, but the entire town shuns her now that she lives with her drunken, one-eyed grandfather at what locals refer to as the “White Trash Zoo,” – a wild animal attraction featuring a zebra, a chimpanzee, and a panther, among other things.

Felicity Turnado has it all – looks, money, and a secret that she’s kept hidden. She knows that one misstep could send her tumbling from the top of the social ladder, and she’s worked hard to make everyone forget that she was with the Montors the night they disappeared. Felicity has buried what she knows so deeply that she can’t even remember what it is… only that she can’t look at Tress without having a panic attack.

But she’ll have to.

Tress has a plan. A Halloween costume party at an abandoned house provides the ideal situation for Tress to pry the truth from Felicity – brick by brick – as she slowly seals her former best friend into a coal chute. With a drunken party above them, and a loose panther on the prowl, Tress will have her answers – or settle for revenge.

In the first book of this duology, award-winning author Mindy McGinnis draws inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe and masterfully delivers a dark, propulsive mystery in alternating points of view that unravels a friendship . . . forevermore. 


I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product. 

The Cask of Amontillado is one of my favorite Poe stories! Mindy McGinnis has written an excellent retelling that kept me on my toes until the very last page. There is so much going on in this book, and I'm not sure where to start! Should I begin with the fact that there's a JAGUAR POV that pops up throughout the book? Because that alone was amazing. It was eerie, haunting, and AHHH! Loved it!

This was also my first experience with a synthetic voice. I didn't hate it, but it was difficult to know who was talking unless I paid really close attention. Normally, I clean the house or do something else that occupies my hands, but the sameness of the voice required me to pay more attention to the chapter changes and what was going on. I saved this audio for when I was alone and painting the new house, so I was able to concentrate more on the story. My overall enjoyment wasn't impacted by the lack of a "real" voice, but I do think this book will be even better when properly narrated. 

The Initial Insult is dark, and I don't mean because it takes place at night (which it does). If you don't like it when bad things happen to animals (insert sob here), then you might need to mentally prepare yourself before starting this one. I still can't think about what happened without wanting to cry. I know that means McGinnis is just really good at her job, because she makes me feel BIG emotions for her fictional characters and their pets.

If I haven't lost you after that last paragraph, I think it's worth noting that Tress's entire plan is dark and disturbing. I totally understood her motives, but damn. Everyone has secrets in their small town, and she's determined to find out what they know about her parents. Felicity's flashbacks show that even Tress's parents had secrets, and how those may have played a role in their disappearance. It all ties together somehow, but I still don't know the specifics. Apparently, this is going to be a series (I didn't know that at first), so we're left with a pretty big cliffhanger. We learn something massive about Tress's parents, Tress herself makes a huge mess of things, and everyone at the party... just wow. McGinnis did me dirty with that ending, but I can forgive her since this retelling was awesome. I am definitely looking forward to the next one! (★★★★☆)

14 comments:

  1. I love a good retelling and I haven't come across that many Poe ones! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I really think there should be more Poe retellings! I always enjoyed it when we covered his stories in school. The Tell-Tale Heart is still my favorite! So creepy! 😱

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  2. I miss listening to books while cleaning. *sigh* Someday I'll be alone again, right? No interruptions? LOL This does sound like a great book. I am not a fan of cliffhangers unless I have the next book handy, so I might have to wait before reading this one.

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    1. That's why I volunteered to do all of the painting! We we're still living in our rent house while we worked on our new house, so it was just me and my audiobooks. ;) The cliffhanger was insanely frustrating! I really wanted a lot of things to be addressed before the books conclusion.

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  3. I can't believe I've never read anything my Mindy before but this sounds absolutely brilliant Linds! I must admit, I don't handle animal deaths well, especially dogs after losing my own furbaby a few months ago so I'm hoping you might remember what chapter I should tread lightly with. Otherwise, this sounds incredible and I'm here for the darkness. Absolutely stoked that you loved this one, brilliant review darling!

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    1. You haven't?! I'm so surprised by this! I really think you'd like her books. I don't remember the exact chapter, but the death is alluded to right at the start, and you know when it's about to be explained later on. It's really obvious what she was leading up to, but it was still terrible to experience - fictional or not.

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  4. I didn't know this was based on the Poe story. Now I really need to read it!! I read Heroine earlier this year by Mindy and LOVED it. I need to read more by her.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

    p.s. I sent you a review request but it's from DartFrog Books, just FYI, in case you went to spam!!!

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    1. Ohh, I haven't read Heroine! Mindy is one of my favorites, so I'm sure I'll read it eventually. :) I'm happy to hear it's good! (I responded to your email! Sorry it took me so long!) <3

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  5. Now I'm really wondering what happened to her parents.

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  6. Intriguing! I will definitely be adding it to Goodreads. Thanks for sharing your review. 📚✨

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  7. Aaaonah yes! This one will work for me. Great review on a book that seems equally great!

    Elza Reads

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  8. I'm so glad to see your review. I wasn't a fan of Not a Drop to Drink, but I've been really curious about this one!

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  9. Ooh, I didn't realize this was a retelling of The Cask of Amontillado. That's one of my favorite Poe stories too.

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“Stuff and nonsense. Nonsense and stuff and much of a muchness and nonsense all over again. We are all mad here, don't you know?”
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