Stephan Lee
May 14, 2014 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Bittersweet

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Miranda Beverly Whittemore
publisher
Crown
genre
Fiction

We gave it an A-

What begins a little like Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep quickly warps into a sickly addictive thriller. Mabel Dagmar, as unlovely as her name, is a fish out of water at a tony New England college, where she spends much of her time obsessing over her glamorous, moody, and overall mesmerizing roommate, Genevra ”Ev” Winslow. Unexpectedly, Ev invites Mabel to spend the summer at Winloch, her family’s multihome estate in the Vermont countryside. Everything about the Winslows seems perfect and pedigreed, from their storied architecture to their names (Birch, Galway, Athol). Just as Mabel starts to feel as if she belongs in this rarefied world, she uncovers some seriously twisted family secrets. That’s when the weirdness begins. Some of the skeletons in the Winslows’ closet are so absurdly heinous they’re operatic, even laughable, but that’s part of the fun — think ABC’s Revenge when it was good, only more scandalous. Beverly-Whittemore litters the first half with clues and red herrings, but the pages start flying in the second. With books like Bittersweet to stuff in beach bags, it’s beginning to feel a lot more like summer. A-

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