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  • Lilly Schmaltz

Book Review: 'The Majesties' by Tiffany Tsao

Gwendolyn and Estella are close-knit sisters of an influential Chinese-Indonesian family. While their family has done some questionable things to gain its power and wealth, the sisters have always had each other to rely on. Gwendolyn’s world comes crashing down when Estella uses poison to murder their entire family. Gwendolyn is the sole survivor and retraces her memories to try and solve exactly when her beloved sister decided to commit such a heinous act.

"The Majesties" was marketed as a thriller, but I found it to be more of a slow-burn mystery with similarities to "Crazy Rich Asians." Page one immediately hooked me by throwing me right into the murder, but the plot began to slow down considerably once Gwendolyn began revisiting her memories. The mystery remained, but the pace was definitely not as thrilling as I had anticipated.

Tsao is a really talented writer, and I loved moving back and forth in the timeline to learn more about the sisters and Estella’s motivations. At times, the timeline switches could be confusing. While this could have been a strong tactic to aid to the suspense, I found it actually slowed down the pace. There were a few sections, including the ending, that I had to read twice to ensure I understood everything.

Overall, this is a beautifully written novel that offers some amount of representation. The characters were a bit unrelatable due to their positions in high society, but I haven’t found many mysteries/thrillers featuring Asian characters, so this is still a viable option. I think I would have enjoyed it more had I known it would be a slow-burn mystery instead of a heart-racing thriller that I anticipated.



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