I'm calling it right now-- The Family Game by Catherine Steadman is one of my favorite books of the year. I had an ARC of it in my Netgalley shelf and didn't even realize it until I went looking for it. I saw one of my favorite bookstagrams Crime by the Book post about the book and immediately went looking for it. I was pleasantly surprised when it was already in my Kindle library.

I gobbled this book up in a few days and it left me breathless. I was thrown off, confused, and left utterly speechless. It was twisted, weird and completely thrilling, albeit, a little gory too. It was perfection.

Publisher's Summary

1. Listen carefully
2. Do your research
3. Trust no one
4. Run for your life

Harriet Reed, a novelist on the brink of literary stardom, is newly engaged to Edward Holbeck, the heir of an extremely powerful family. And even though Edward has long tried to severe ties with them, news of the couple’s marital bliss has the Holbecks inching back into their lives.

As Harriet is drawn into their lavish world, the family seems perfectly welcoming. So when Edward’s father, Robert, hands Harriet a tape of a book he’s been working on, she is desperate to listen.

But as she presses play, it’s clear that this isn’t just a novel. It’s a confession.

A confession to a grisly crime. A murder. And, suddenly, the game is in motion.

Feeling isolated and confused, Harriet must work out if this is part of a plan to test her loyalty. Or something far darker. What is it that Robert sees in her? Why give her the power to destroy everything?

This might be a game to the Holbeck family—but losing might still prove deadly.

My Thoughts

As we're first introduced to Harriet, I immediately liked her. I thought she was interesting, flawed, but a good narrator. She didn't seem to be hiding who she was, even though she definitely was hiding something.

When you meet her fiancé, Edward, you immediately like him too. He is kind, caring, and attentive; he's protective of Harriet and trying to protect her from his family. I really liked him, and thought he made Harriet very happy.

As you meet more of the Holbeck family, you get a glimpse as to why Edward wanted to get away from them. You have the feeling that they're hiding something but you're not sure what. When you meet Robert Holbeck and the story truly kicks off with the listening of the tape, you realize what is at stake here.

The tapes are concerning, gruesome and unsettling; it pulled me right into the story and I had to stop along the way to reassure myself that this is a work of fiction. The family felt so real, it's almost what I feel like Succession is like, or any other wealthy, famous family. 

As much as I can sing this book's praises, I have to say that the relationship between Robert and Harriet was weird and made me queasy. It was too close for comfort for my liking and I was really off put by her descriptions of him. 

That aside, this book took a left turn into a world I was not expecting to travel to. It got really weird, really fast and then we were on the fast track to crazy town. The reveals along the way were kind of what I expected when we first listened to the tape but the ending was unlike anything my mind could've dreamed up.

I cried, I laughed, I cringed - I felt so many intense emotions along the way but the ending was truly perfect. It made the story come together and left me with a warm feeling, and a need to revisit The Holbecks at some point. I would love to read another book with them at the center.

Family was a strong theme throughout the book, as was honesty, reputation and success and I think it made the ending that much more meaningful. 

The Family Game will have you on the edge of your seat for all 300 pages. It was an incredible book that I cannot recommend to thriller lovers enough!


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