Please note that I gave this book 3.5 stars, but rounded it up to 4 stars on Goodreads.
I wish that I could have gotten into this book more. I think the flow is what messed me up. It wasn't a slow burn of a read. It was a slog til almost the end when things picked up. Also since I figured out the twist in the first few pages, I was pretty impatient for the reader (me) to just be told I was right. I definitely liked "Harvest Home" more than this one. The main reason why I did give this 3.5 stars was the backstory to Holland and Niles Perry family was definitely interesting. And I did like how the book shifted between Niles as a pre-teen and Niles later on somewhere recalling the summer things changed between he and his twin brother Holland.
Niles Perry is the good twin to his brother Holland's bad twin. And Holland isn't just the bad twin. He is the torturer of cats kind of bad twin. Throughout the story though, you have Niles trying and failing to make excuses for how his brother Holland behaves. You find that maybe Holland is still suffering the effects from the twin's father's death a few months before. Or maybe it was when Holland hurt himself after trying to drown the cat (seriously Holland is messed up). Niles is beloved by his family and especially his grandmother Ada. However, after a while you start to see that Holland is seems to be getting worse and worse as more "accidents" seem to start occurring at the family home.
I am not going to get too specific with details in the review in case you haven't read it. But once you start reading about the game that Niles and Holland's grandmother taught them, you can start to see how the book is going to go. I thought Ada was a strong willed woman, but definitely realizes in the end how part of what has befallen the family is her fault for ignoring what was right in front of her face for so long.
You don't really get to spend time with many other characters besides Niles, Holland, and Ada. Everyone else feels like stage dressing to me. Even when you have Niles interacting with his mother who is still recovering from the loss of her husband, she doesn't feel real. Maybe that is because of how Niles describes these people as you read.
The writing at times was gruesome here and there, and I did find myself drifting while reading, which is never a good thing. The flow wasn't great. I think some of the book (Ada's life in Russia) could have been cut out for example. Also, the timeline goes back and forth so much it was hard to keep things straight. You have Niles talking about his dead father, then we go into how beloved his father was and how much his mother loved him. Then you find out he has an older sister, then back to he and Holland, and then oh wait his sister is pregnant with her first child, etc. I just needed everything to progress, and the book felt stalled to me while reading.
The setting of the family home never did sit right to me. It felt like everytime it was described there was another room that was never mentioned. I was trying to place everything, but none of it made sense to me while reading. Probably the best description was for the barn that the twins played in.
The ending actually did make me wonder and think though. I liked the questions it left open for me and that was the main reason why I gave it 3.5 stars since that was a pretty cool ending to have.