I’ve always been a fan of Gothic novels, or books with dark and mysterious themes. Every so often, after reading too many Romance novels or stories with happy endings, I just need to read something where somebody dies. I know this sounds a bit morbid, but I tend to read in genre phases; when I’ve been all romanced out or had it with classic literature, I’ll usually pick up a different genre and begin a new phase. When I get to my sad, scary, and murderous phase (in reading habit only, not in reality, just letting you know), I like to pick up books by Agatha Christie or Barbara Michaels, and other mysteries or dark psychological thrillers. This is why, having read a lot of Romance and Chick-lit of late, I decided to pick up The Twin’s Daughter, by Lauren Baratz-Logsted, for my next YA Challenge book. As you know from my last review, I wasn’t that impressed by my last read. Fortunately, I can say that things have turned around with Baratz-Logsted’s book.
Set in Victorian England, The Twin’s Daughter begins with the shocking arrival of Lucy Sexton’s Aunt. The shock of her Aunt Helen’s arrival is not the ill-timed visit, but is the very existence of the woman herself. As it turns out, Lucy’s mother and Aunt Helen are identical twin sisters who were separated at birth and raised in environments on the opposite end of the social spectrum. The resemblance is startling, the circumstances of their birth and childhoods disturbing, and overall, an unsettling feeling hovers over the household as Helen is instated in Lucy’s home as a long-lost relative. Lucy struggles with her own acceptance of a new family member that is also competition for her parents’ love and with her own unease at sometimes mistaking her aunt for her mother. When one of the twins is murdered and Lucy’s life is drastically altered, the frustration of doubting her memory and perception of her own mother increases to the point where she does not truly know which twin survived the brutal homicide. The story unfolds as life changes for Lucy and the woman “playing” her mother, and the reader finds out in the end which twin is actually alive and what scheming and betrayals have taken place.
With a haunting and unsettling tone to the book, a foreboding of discovering the truth, and even a secret underground tunnel, this book is everything a Gothic mystery should be. The book is well-written, and I became absorbed in Lucy’s internal struggle with identifying her own mother from her twin. The behavior of the two women and their uncanny similarities is unnerving and especially after the murder, there is always a dark cloud cast over the household. My only gripe with the book is that the denouement was a bit abrupt. The resolution to the book was a bit unsatisfying. Did I have more questions about the murderer and parts of Aunt Helen’s childhood that were unknown to the reader? Yes, but these questions were not answered. Even though Lucy came to conclusions at the end of the book that brought her suspicions to light, the last few chapters seemed to come too quickly after being slowly nurtured throughout the majority of the book.
That being said, I would highly recommend this book for a good creepy read and suggest reading it at night or during a good thunderstorm.