Wednesday, November 16, 2022

The Family Game by Catherine Steadman

The Family Game 
by Catherine Steadman
Published October 18, 2022 by Ballantine Books

A rich, eccentric family. A time-honored tradition. Or a lethal game of survival? One woman finds out what it really takes to join the 1% in this riveting psychological thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Something in the Water, Mr. Nobody, and The Disappearing Act.

Harry is a novelist on the brink of stardom; Edward, her husband-to-be, is seemingly perfect. In love and freshly engaged, their bliss is interrupted by the reemergence of the Holbecks, Edward's eminent family and the embodiment of American old money. For years, they've dominated headlines and pulled society's strings, and Edward left them all behind to forge his own path. But there are eyes and ears everywhere. It was only a matter of time before they were pulled back in . . .

After all, even though he's long severed ties with his family, Edward is set to inherit it all. Harriet is drawn to the glamour and sophistication of the Holbecks, who seem to welcome her with open arms, but everything changes when she meets Robert, the inescapably magnetic head of the family. At their first meeting, Robert slips Harry a cassette tape, revealing a shocking confession which sets the inevitable game in motion.

What is it about Harry that made him give her that tape? A thing that has the power to destroy everything? As she ramps up her quest for the truth, she must endure the Holbecks' savage Christmas traditions all the while knowing that losing this game could be deadly.

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4 Stars

Horrifying, absurd, and an absolute good time. The Family Game is Catherine Steadman's fictional take on rich in-laws and the games they play. We've all heard of the in-laws who don't welcome in new partners very easily and believe in good family names, but the Holbecks take it a step further. They seem to love their son and brother, Edward's, new fiancee, Harry, but lurking behind their closed doors are a series of tests. Presented as games, Harry must use her thriller writing skills and adept survival techniques to survive the Holbeck's games that teeter on the edge of life or death.

You've got to suspend your reality a bit, but once you do, The Family Game is a darn good, addictive read. It feels wordy at first, with full descriptions that don't seem to jive with the story at first, but after completing the read I feel like Steadman was giving us time to breathe before the novel took off at lightspeed. With complex characters, a well-developed plot, and twists you cannot possibly see coming, The Family Game is an over-the-top fictional thriller that is impossible to put down. Steadman pulled out all the stops for this novel, capturing all your usual character tropes and plot points that drive a thriller, while blending in a horror storyline that seeps in slowly and then takes over. Unpredictable and as wild as a circus, The Family Game took me by surprise and is totally worth the read.

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