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  • Writer's pictureAngie Schnabel

Book Review: The Initial Insult by Mindy McGinnis

The Initial Insult by Mindy McGinnis

Author: Mindy McGinnis

Published by: HarperCollins Children’s Books February 23rd, 2021

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Friends to Enemies // Thriller

HarperCollins Children’s Books and NetGalley sent an E-Arc in exchange for an honest review, This will not impact my review in any way.


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.

This is a story about the initial insult.. that lead to a life built around revenge.

Tress has lost everything that might have allowed her to have a happy life, and the story begins when the last straw snaps. She is a girl on the edge, and rather than trying to crawl back from it... she’s determined to take Felicity with her.

Felicity, has a comparatively easy life. McGinnis does a good job of creating nuance, and ultimately Felicity is also a sympathetic character; however, I struggled to forgive her treatment of Tress- and I didn’t feel quite as connected to her as both girls were set on a collision course towards one another.

This is the kind of book I gravitate towards because of a deep love for Edgar Allen Poe, and all things Poe-ish, but I was uncertain about the mechanics of a Poe inspired story set in the fiction town of Amontillado, Ohio- a clever nod to The Cask of Amontillado I was pleasantly surprised this was a heart wrenching, pulse-pounding, slap in the face of a book.

Additionally, the story had a unique narrative addition that made it stand apart from other similar stories I’ve read. Happy to say I’ll continue to read anything that Mindy McGinnis, her take no prisoners style of emotional conflict is hauntingly beautiful, and chillingly reminiscent of classic horror.

Have you had the chance to read The Initial Insult?

What are you looking forward to about the book?

Let me know in the comments!

Happy reading!

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