Mar 11, 2022

Review--The Initial Insult by Mindy McGinnis


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.

In the first book of this duology, award-winning author Mindy McGinnis draws inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe and masterfully delivers a dark, propulsive mystery in alternating points of view that unravels a friendship... forevermore.


I was so excited to start Mindy McGinni’s latest duology, starting with The Initial Insult! This Edgar Allan Poe inspired tale is about revenge, secrets, and lies. It was a riveting story that had me turning the pages eager to see how it would end, and in typical duology fashion, it ends with a cliffhanger! Luckily, the next book is at the ready!

In Amontillado, Ohio your name means everything. If you’re not one of the “founding families,” you’re nothing. Tress Montor was one of these lucky few, until the day she lost it all. Felicity Turnado, wasn’t one of these famous families, but hers came into money, which is pretty much second best. Tree and Felicity became the best of friends at a young age, but then one night, when a sleepover ended with Felicity needing to go home early, Tress’ parent’s vanished and Felicity remained behind. Though she claims to have no memory of that night, Tress believes otherwise.

Tress was then raised by her grandfather, who was not the caring sort. He made her get rid of everything that she owned, practically. That Tress was allowed to keep her dog was nothing short of amazing. Her grandfather runs a not quite legal or kosher zoo on his property. There’s quite a few dangerous animals there, so that the law would even allow him to have custody of Tress after her parents’ disappearance was another feat of amazement.

Tress and Felicity continued to grow apart as poor Tress was dealing with losing everything and Felicity’s parents were all about appearance and basically wanted Felicity to ditch Tress. Eventually, their friendship dissolved, but they never forgot each other. Felicity was always trying to win Tress back, but could never find the right words to say or the right actions to take. She lives in a world where appearance is everything, her family and friends basically telling her what she should and shouldn’t do. Tress never forgot what happened though and she believes Felicity knows something about her parents and she’s tired of waiting.

In true Edgar Allan Poe style, Tress manages to subdue Felicity in an old house where a party was happening and plans to pull the truth from her. For every lie Felicity tells, a layer of bricks will be put down. There are only so many rows that can be cemented down before Felicity is trapped…forever.

This book was so deeply, deeply, chilling! The mystery around Tress’ parents’ disappearance is one that drives you to keep reading! You want to know the truth of what happened, and yet Felicity does not remember that night well enough. The book is told through three points of view, Tress, Felicity, and…someone else. I won’t say who, because I thought it was rather surprising and fascinating to uncover. So I’ll leave that as a surprise of sorts for you.

Through these different points of view, we get both girls’ side of the events that took place. There are quite a few flashbacks throughout the story, as the history of what happened between these girls is critical. We do get into what happened that night of the disappearance, but the events are still pretty foggy. Felicity truly does not remember that night well, and it will take time for the truth to be unveiled, whether it’s unveiled before the final bricks are laid out is something else entirely.

I do want to give some forewarning here that there is some slight animal abuse in this book. Nothing absolutely major, but there is a zoo that’s not run with care, though Tress does care for the animals, but they are dangerous too. It’s more her grandfather that is that neglecter. Also, Tress no longer has her dog in the current timeline, so I will leave that there, and yes, we do learn what happened to the dog and it had me in tears…so yeah. That wasn’t a happy moment for sure. And there actually was another similar instance later on, but nothing was graphic in this sense. You know what happens but you never see it happen.

It’s usually hard for me to get into a story with so many flashbacks, but in this particular one, they were highly necessary. We know nothing of Tress and Felicity’s past other than what gets tossed around, but I felt like maybe not all of the flashbacks were necessary. It’s hard to pinpoint down. Though the story does move along at a fast pace that had me eating up the pages.

As we get closer and closer to the truth, chaos ensues around Tress while she tries to exact justice. Things end in the thick of it, there are a lot of unanswered questions and the ending itself leaves a cold chill down your back…typically Poe, am I right? There were also several nods to other Poe stories. I’ve only read a handful of them some years back, but I was still able to recognize a few key names and I loved it. Needless to say, McGinnis hits the mark with this one!

The Initial Insult was a spine-tingling sort of read that was thick with tension and suspense! I love a good revenge story, where the revenge is warranted. In this case, you’re not entirely certain whether it’s warranted or not and I felt like that made it even creepier! I eager to see what will happen next and am so utterly glad I waited to binge this series! If you’re a fan of the dark and creepy, with twisted secrets riddled in mysteries, then this is duology for you!


Overall Rating 4.5/5 stars






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