Monday, December 12, 2022

Review | The Family Game by Catherine Steadman

The Family Game is a mystery/thriller by Catherine Steadman.

The Family Game by Catherine Steadman

A rich, eccentric family. A time-honored tradition. Or a lethal game of survival? One woman finds out what it really takes to join the 1% in this riveting psychological thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Something in the Water, Mr. Nobody, and The Disappearing Act.

Harry is a novelist on the brink of stardom; Edward, her husband-to-be, is seemingly perfect. In love and freshly engaged, their bliss is interrupted by the reemergence of the Holbecks, Edward's eminent family and the embodiment of American old money. For years, they've dominated headlines and pulled society's strings, and Edward left them all behind to forge his own path. But there are eyes and ears everywhere. It was only a matter of time before they were pulled back in . . .

After all, even though he's long severed ties with his family, Edward is set to inherit it all. Harriet is drawn to the glamour and sophistication of the Holbecks, who seem to welcome her with open arms, but everything changes when she meets Robert, the inescapably magnetic head of the family. At their first meeting, Robert slips Harry a cassette tape, revealing a shocking confession which sets the inevitable game in motion.

What is it about Harry that made him give her that tape? A thing that has the power to destroy everything? As she ramps up her quest for the truth, she must endure the Holbecks' savage Christmas traditions all the while knowing that losing this game could be deadly.

The Family Game is a holiday themed thriller that I read with the Horror Spotlight discord group. I want to say straightaway that I liked this book because I'm probably gonna spend this review doing a whole lot of complaining.

First off, for those of you who hate prologues because it usually means the book is boring for a while, I hate to inform you that there is a prologue and the book is, in fact, boring for a while. The Family Game starts out with a man and a woman enjoying the holidays in New York. It feels very much like a super messed up holiday romcom. It's romantic and it's over the top and it's in the big city, but you know from the prologue the female main character is going to wind up bloody and scared for her life on the floor of his family's holiday home.

There is a lot to not believe in this novel, but there's also a lot to keep you reading and guessing and griping out loud.

My biggest fear when I started reading the holiday game was that I would not care whether this woman survived by the end of the book because she's not very likable. But somehow even though I didn't like a soul in this novel, I still wanted to know what was really happening. I'm not usually the type of reader who tries to guess who did it, what the twist is, who's lying, but I was guessing and wondering in The Family Game.

There is so much to unpack now that I have finished reading this novel, but I don't have it in me to do the unpacking that's necessary to make it all makes sense. This book is being billed as a psychological thriller, but it's not what it had hoped to be.

So while I could sit around the kitchen table and gripe about the characters and the plot all day long, I still would not tell you not to read it. If you have The Family Game on your TBR, you should definitely read it. There is something to be said about a book that can make you gripe this much. Read it and then let me know what you think. We can scratch our heads about it together.

3/5 Stars


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  1. Haha this has me curious now. I'm in the mood for a holiday themed thriller too so I may have to this one.

  2. It was somehow still very readable despite all of the problems I encountered, lol. That's quite a feat.

  3. I'm on the fence about this one. Parts of it intrigue me, other things not so much. But at least it left you thinking about it.

  4. Sounds like a book that I will probably skip! :)

  5. It's kinda funny when you find a book that you have problems with but still want to see what happens.

  6. I was hoping for a higher rating, but I'm also intrigued to know its a holiday themed thriller so I may read it this month just for that. I'm also okay with dislikeable characters, they're usually a given in thrillers lol!

  7. I'm curious about this now. I don't mind unlikable characters but the story has to be good.


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