Welcome to Amontillado, Ohio, where your last name is worth more than money, and secrets can be kept… for a price.
Tress Montor knows that her family used to mean something—until she didn’t have a family anymore. When her parents disappeared seven years ago while driving her best friend home, Tress lost everything. She might still be a Montor, but the entire town shuns her now that she lives with her drunken, one-eyed grandfather at what locals refer to as the “White Trash Zoo,” – a wild animal attraction featuring a zebra, a chimpanzee, and a panther, among other things.
Felicity Turnado has it all – looks, money, and a secret that she’s kept hidden. She knows that one misstep could send her tumbling from the top of the social ladder, and she’s worked hard to make everyone forget that she was with the Montors the night they disappeared. Felicity has buried what she knows so deeply that she can’t even remember what it is… only that she can’t look at Tress without having a panic attack.
But she’ll have to.
Tress has a plan. A Halloween costume party at an abandoned house provides the ideal situation for Tress to pry the truth from Felicity – brick by brick – as she slowly seals her former best friend into a coal chute. With a drunken party above them, and a loose panther on the prowl, Tress will have her answers – or settle for revenge.
“The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge.” -THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO By Edgar Allan Poe – Published 1847
That quote is not from the book itself, though there is one very similar which I loved, but from the original short story this story sprung from, The Cask of Amontillado. I had never read that short story to be honest with you, but after finishing The Initial Insult I just had to find it and see how they compare. Edgar Allen Poe is quite macabre, and Mindy McGinnis manages to stay true to the short story while giving it a second life. Mindy McGinnis adds background, texture, contemporary grit into this dark tale 🖤💀
The Initial Insult gives us concrete reasons as to why Tress is angry enough to want to bury her ex best friend behind a wall of bricks…
“I must not only punish but punish with impunity.” -THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO By Edgar Allan Poe – Published 1847
… and she could have lived with the “injuries” Felicity did upon her, with or without forethought, but it was until Felicity took the very last thing connecting Tress to her past life, her parents, that Tress decided enough was enough. She was getting answers, or someone would die as she tried.
I do like the story and the many stories told within the overall narrative. As Tress and Felicity hash out their problems we get to see stories from their past from both POVs; giving us a lot of prespective. Felicity might have not meant to hurt Tress, but she keeps on doing it again and again–by being a follower, by not standing up for her, by keeping the truth to herself. Not every hurt that Tress has had in her life connects directly to Felicity, but it sure feels like it when you see the story through her eyes. What’s even more screwed up is that these two young women really do sort of love each other, but just can’t find a way to fix the broken bridge between them. Maybe only blood can very well do that.
It isn’t a pretty story–there is a lot to dislike about these two characters. Felicity can be quite a follower, to the point where she knows bad stuff is being done around her, by her friends, and she is aware of it, but doesn’t have the backbone to stand up for herself. I blame this on her mother, who has taught her to hide her true self behind pleasantries and be as fake as possible in order to fit in. Her mother tells her to hide her seizures because, and I quote, “no one would want to marry her.”–SHE SAYS THIS TO HER AS A YOUNG CHILD… yeah, not the best mother. On top of her seizures, Felicity is also dealing with a bunch of trauma from the night Tress’ parent’s disappeared. Doesn’t excuse her shitty behavior, but it puts it into perspective.
Tress on the other hand was dealt a really bad hand–after her parent’s disappeared she is carted off to live with Cecil, who is technically a grandfather in name only. He is neglectful, emotionally abusive, a drunk, good for nothing. Tress was stripped of every thing she ever had, love, comfort, security, basically overnight, and the worst part is she doesn’t even know what ended up happening to her parents… but she thinks she knows who might… and she has nothing to loose.
There is also a lot of other side characters who are not completely bad (Hugh, the football player who is a nice guy who acts like a bad guy), legit good characters (Brynn, the volleyball star, and only black student in this small backwards town in which your last name has more value than even your bank account), and others whose jury is still out. My main drawback from the story is that while I understand the build up that was needed, and the payoff was great in the end, it does feel like it can drag along, specially since the only way you see any story progression is from the scenes told in the past, while in the present only hours pass along.
I am so very excited for the next book in this duology!! I want to pre order it right away 😀 I can’t wait to find out what happens next with these two ex-friends.
PS; SUPER COOL panther in the story. Loved how the panther’s inner thought’s were portrayed, as if the cat could see the past through the blood . Kind of think this is going to play a big role in the sequel, maybe the panther will tell us the secrets of what actually happened to Tress’ parents.
PS; I was provided a review copy in exchange for an honest review. Thanks go to the publisher!