Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 12/01/2020 Gr 9 Up—Tress Montor lost everything the night her parents disappeared seven years ago: her family, her friends, and the respect her last name usually demands in the town of Amontillado. Now she lives on the Amontillado Animal Sanctuary—what the locals call "the White Trash Zoo"—with her alcoholic grandfather Cecil and a motley assortment of animals. The town has turned its back on her, and she wants answers—or revenge. Felicity Turnado doesn't have a storied surname and everything that's perfect in her life she's earned on her own: her grades, her popularity, and the respect of the community. What isn't perfect is that her former best friend, Tress, won't even look at her. Felicity was with the Montors the night they vanished, but she's worked so hard to make the community forget she was there that she herself doesn't remember what happened. Sick of being the butt of everyone's jokes, Tress has a plan to get Felicity to talk—one that involves a costume party in the crumbling Usher House, an empty coal chute, and a pile of bricks. McGinnis draws heavily upon the works of Edgar Allan Poe to deliver a gripping modern retelling of "The Cask of Amontillado." Tress and Felicity are expertly fleshed out; the chapters are written from alternating viewpoints of the two girls across their entire friendship. Their linked tragedy and trauma is expressed in prose that is by turns gritty and heart-rending, and they join a lineup of strong, flawed, and intriguing McGinnis main characters. As the first book in a duology, the story ends in a cliff-hanger, which heightens anticipation for the second installment. Most characters are white. VERDICT Well-versed Poe fans will gobble this up, but the heartache, revenge, and anger that ooze from these pages should entice any reader.—Tyler Hixson, Brooklyn P.L. - Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 12/01/2020 In this gothic thriller, first in a duology, McGinnis cleverly weaves elements from Edgar Allen Poe’s stories to chronicle the dissolution of a friendship, culminating in a shocking act of vengeance. In Amontillado, Ohio, legacy is everything; founding families are venerated, even as their stately homes decay and their bloodlines wither. Those who can’t fulfill expectations are shunned—like Tress, whose parents disappeared seven years ago while driving her friend Felicity home, leaving Tress in the dubious care of her outcast uncle. Tress has never believed that Felicity, found unconscious, remembers nothing, especially when Felicity turned her back on Tress like everyone else. Now a senior, Tress has the perfect plan to force Felicity to tell the truth: it involves a Halloween party at an abandoned estate, a set of manacles, a coal chute, and a ton of bricks. Tress and Felicity both narrate this nail-biter, providing compelling and competing narratives that create empathy for damaged, unlikable characters. Though occasionally straining credulity, the slowly unfolding mystery and chilling cliff-hanger will cement interest for the next volume. - Copyright 2020 Booklist.