Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: January 21, 2020
In this riveting and disquieting thriller about the secrets and betrayals that accompany exorbitant wealth—imagine Crazy Rich Asians as written by Gillian Flynn—two sisters from a Chinese-Indonesian family grapple with the past after one of them poisons their entire family.
Gwendolyn and Estella have always been as close as sisters can be. Growing up in a wealthy, powerful, and sometimes deceitful family, they’ve relied on each other for support and confidence. But now, Gwendolyn is lying in a coma, the sole survivor of Estella’s poisoning of their whole family.
As she struggles to regain consciousness, Gwendolyn desperately retraces her memories, trying to uncover the moment that led to this shocking and brutal act. Was it their aunt’s mysterious death at sea? Estella’s unhappy marriage to a dangerously brutish man? Or were the shifting loyalties and unspoken resentments at the heart of the opulent world they inhabit finally too much to bear? Can Gwendolyn finally confront the truth about who she and her sister really are, and the secrets in their family’s past?
Traveling from the luxurious world of the rich and powerful in Indonesia to the most spectacular shows at Paris Fashion Week, from the sunny coasts of California to the melting pot of Melbourne’s university scene, The Majesties is a haunting, evocative, and deeply compelling novel about the secrets that can build a family empire—and also bring it crashing down.
The Majesties is marketed as “if Gillian Flynn wrote Crazy Rich Asians”. The Majesties is not that. Not even close. It does give off Crazy Rich Asians vibes, but doesn’t touch Flynn with a ten-foot pole.
The Majesties is an interesting concept, but it’s poor executive leaves much to be desired. The slow pacing, almost non-existent plot, and unlikeable characters makes The Majesties a boring read that is a slog to get through.
The Majesties is bogged down in its over reliance on exposition. There are too many instances where the narrator tells readers pages upon pages of historical information, as the novel is set in the 1990s in Indonesia, or gives a detailed breakdown of the other characters in the family, as there are many. These pages are particularly boring since it feels like time spent that could have been better served elsewhere.
Unlikeable characters are not necessarily cause for criticism. Unfortunately, when the novel has nothing else going for it the inability to connect with the characters makes the novel even harder to enjoy. The Majesties does not have a single likable character.
The big twist at the end is predictable. I guessed at it around the 40 pages mark. The ending also contributed to my dislike of the novel since these kinds of twists are not creative, intriguing, or jaw dropping. They’re irresponsible and lazy.
Overall, there’s an interesting story buried deep in this novel, unfortunately, the poor execution does a disservice to the concept.
***I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley for an honest review.