My Review:In this sharp and clever debut novel of suspense, a young woman—presumed dead—leaves a series of clues for her twin sister, which leads her on a scavenger-hunt-like quest to solve the mystery of her disappearance.
Ava Antipova has her reasons for running away: a failing family vineyard, a romantic betrayal, a mercurial sister, an absent father, a mother slipping into dementia. In Paris, Ava acquires a French boyfriend and a taste for much better wine, and erases her past. But two years later, she must return to upstate New York. Her twin sister, Zelda, is dead.
Even in a family of alcoholics, Zelda Antipova was the wild one, notorious for her mind games and destructive behavior. Stuck tending the vineyard and the girls’ increasingly unstable mother, Zelda is allegedly burned alive when she passes out in the barn with a cigarette. But Ava finds the official explanation a little too neat. A little too Zelda. Then she receives a cryptic message—from her sister. Just as Ava suspected, Zelda’s playing one of her games. In fact, she’s outdone herself, leaving a series of clues to her disappearance. Ava follows the trail laid just for her, thinking like her sister, keeping her secrets, immersing herself in Zelda’s drama. Along the way, Zelda forces Ava to confront their twisted history and the boy who broke her heart. But why? Is Zelda trying to punish Ava for leaving? To teach her a lesson? Or is she simply trying to write her own ending?
I have to tell you that this was pretty depressing - it's a family with a multitude of secrets, all of whom are also alcoholics. When her twin is presumed dead, Ava descends back on the family home to complete chaos -- her absent father has shown up along with her ever critical grandmother and her mother has spiraled even further into dementia. No one in this family is helping each other and no one seems very concerned about her sister's death. I just felt like the interactions were very unusual as well as the responses to events. I had a hard time connecting with this or suspending my disbelief for the events that occur. There is an underlying thriller aspect to this, which I did like but definitely a hard read.
Dead Letters comes out later this month on February 21, 2017, and you can purchase HERE.
Burned alive on the summer solstice. With the charred remnants in plain sight of half the windows in the house, where my mother can't help being reminded of Zelda, even with her brain half rotted and her liver more than half pickled. My sister couldn't have contrived a more appropriate death if she planned it herself. Indeed.