Sunday, 16 August 2020

The Majesties by Tiffany Tsao

The Majesties by Tiffany Tsao
First published as Under Your Wings by Penguin Random House in Australia in 2018. Republished as The Majesties by Pushkin Vertigo on the 6th August 2020.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Gwendolyn and Estella are as close as sisters can be. But now Gwendolyn is lying in a coma, the sole survivor after Estella poisons their entire family.

As Gwendolyn struggles to regain consciousness, she desperately retraces her memories, trying to uncover the moment that led to such a brutal act.

Journeying from the luxurious world of Indonesia's rich and powerful, to the spectacular shows of Paris Fashion Week, and the melting pot of Melbourne's student scene, The Majesties is a haunting novel about the dark secrets that can build a family empire – and bring it crashing down.

I loved Tiffany Tsao's Oddfits books so grabbed a review copy of The Majesties from NetGalley purely on the strength of her name. I didn't realise that this publication is actually a re-release of a novel that was first published under a different title a couple of years ago. Fortunately I hadn't previously read that original version or I would have been very disappointed now! I didn't notice misguided publicity comparing The Majesties to Gone Girl and Crazy Rich Asians either (though on finishing and checking Goodreads, I did spot plenty of reviewers slating The Majesties because they had expected a work along those lines).

The Majesties is a tense family drama narrated by the sole survivor, Gwendolyn, of a mass poisoning event, a survivor who is now lying comatose is a hospital ward with only her memories to help her try and deduce what led her beloved sister, Estella, to commit such a horrific crime. I was totally gripped by the vivid first pages and Tsao kept me glued all the way through to her breathtaking conclusion. I loved getting to know the sisters' awful extended family though Gwendolyn's recollections. Super rich and powerful, their ideas and motivations are completely at odds with my own worldview, but I could clearly understand what drove their actions and their glamorous lifestyle is jawdropping.

Gwendolyn and Estella aren't your typical little girls. Gwendolyn recollects their joint obsession with collecting and cataloguing insects, a hobby which grossed out many of their peer group and horrified their grandmother! The theme of insects, butterflies in particular, recurs throughout The Majesties with both direct and metaphorical links to the subject. I found Gwendolyn's high fashion insect 'bagatelles' to be a gruesome idea however one which I would be unsurprised to see replicated on callous haute couture catwalks if it were actually possible. Replicating the phases in a butterfly's lifecycle for Estella's life was an interesting idea that played out well for me.

I'm confident that The Majesties is my favourite Tiffany Tsao novel (so far!) I love her inventiveness, the memorably unique characters she created and the darkness of this world they inhabit. I can often be underwhelmed by thrillers, but The Majesties was everything I had hoped for and more!

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1 comment:

  1. Followers (106) Blogwalking here from Malaysia. Regards! :)