Review: Suspicion by Alexandra Monir

Saturday, November 29, 2014
Title: Suspicion
Author: Alexandra Monir
Genre: young adult, retellings, mystery, gothic
Series: N/A
Pages: 368
Published: expected December 9 2014
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 1/5

Mysterious. Magnificent. Creepy. Welcome to Rockford Manor.

"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?

Combining a fresh twist on the classic Rebecca with a spine-tingling mystery and powerful romance, Suspicion is an action-packed thrill ride.

I had a sneaking suspicion that Suspicion and I would have a rocky road when the poor, poor main character was described as being "forced to live as an American commoner!" and then again when the "keep secrets from the main character FOR HER OWN GOOD" trope came into play not 25% into the novel. Still, I had to give that cover and a YA retelling of the gothic classic Rebecca at least a second or third chance. And while I did manage to read all 368 pages, I have to say it was not a good use of time or effort. 

The thing is, Suspicion is pretty readable (if way off the claims in the summary. This is not half as fun or entertaining as the Princess Diaries or a third as creepy as Rebecca.) Even if a lot of the story is hard to believe or just ill-conceived, it makes for an easy read. But as you continue to read, you realize how flimsy a lot of the novel is. Not only is the mystery picked up and abandoned at will for a lackluster romance, but the stakes never feel real for poor Imogen-the-American-commoner. The gothic vibe the author tries to cultivate is also weak and makes for little atmosphere despite all the "mysteries" surrounding Imogen and her poor dead Duchess cousin.

The romance is... tepid. Weak. Ridiculous. It's pretty much the opposite of ship-able. It's unbelievable in all regards -- in that they love each other, or that he has loved her as long as he claims, or even that this really is love. Monir totally attempts to retcon half the story by the book's final page and tries to turn her characters' instalove into something more like soulmates. Not only does that not work with these two chemistry-less individuals but that's not even the worst part about how the story in Suspicion concludes. 

I just cannot with that ending, with the total ridiculousness that it was. Nope. No sir. No way, no how. This was never going to be higher than a 2 or a 2.5 for me but that ending served only to wreck any good there was to be had in Suspicion. Unfortunately, this is another cause of cover fraud because I finished this disappointed and less than impressed.

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