By Alexandra Monir
Author’s Website: http://www.alexandramonir.com
“There’s something hidden in the Maze.” Seventeen-year-old Imogen has never forgotten the last words her father said to her seven years ago, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family’s English country manor.
Haunted by her parents’ deaths, Imogen moves to New York City with her new guardians. But when a letter arrives with the news of her cousin’s untimely death, revealing that Imogen is now the only heir left to run the estate, she returns to England and warily accepts her role as duchess.
All is not as it seems at Rockford, and Imogen quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind the mansion’s aristocratic exterior, hinting that the spate of deaths in her family were no accident. And at the center of the mystery is Imogen herself–and Sebastian, the childhood friend she has secretly loved for years. Just what has Imogen walked into? (Goodreads)
Imogen grew up spending summers in England with her cousin at her grandfather’s estate. Tragically, when she is ten years old her parents and aunt and uncle die one night in a fire. Distraught over their passing, Imogen cuts ties with her cousin Lucia and her grandfather, the Duke of Wickersham. Fast forward to age seventeen, and Imogen learns that her grandfather and cousin have both died leaving her as the heir. As soon as she graduates from high school, she leaves her guardians and takes up her new role as duchess. Back in England, she meets her childhood crush Sebastian, and together they try to solve the mystery surrounding the deaths and unearth the magic that resides at Rockford Manor.
Suspicion was an okay read, just ok. If you judge the book by its cover, then it should be great. The cover art really is beautiful. It set the tone for a dark, gothic, moody, magical experience, but the reality is a story full of plot holes and rather shallow characters. The elemental magic is poorly explained and far too easily, blindly accepted by Imogen and Sebastian. And speaking of Imogen and Sebasitian, they are not very well developed characters. They possess no identifying traits that would make them unique or come to life off the page. At least Lucia was deliciously tormented, and the butler was endearing. The love triangle was unnecessary, and the romance without substance. The story ended rather abruptly and tied up a bit too neatly, but really it was the twist at the end, a twist that should have saved my opinion of the book, that ended up being way too farfetched to believe (I will not spoil the ending here).
The saving grace for the book was the mystery surrounding Imogen and Lucia’s parents’ deaths in the maze, and the revelation of the truth surrounding Lucia’s death (accident or murder). Had the story been stripped of its magical elements and been a straight up mystery, it would have read much better. The book is compared to The Princess Diaries, which it does resemble, and Rebecca, but I found it to be a poor retelling. Stick to the original Du Maurier.
I did read this in one afternoon, and if you do not think too much about its shortcomings, it is a mildly entertaining read. It had potential to be much better.
Check out the author’s exclusive song for Suspicion below: