I'm woefully behind in my reviews, and so I've had some time and space apart from this novel, and I have to tell you, I still don't know what to think. I can't tell if I loved it for all of its gothic-ness, or I hated it for all of its horrible characters. So I'm giving it three stars, because that feels like a solidly middle-of-the-pack recommendation, but if you pick this up, know going in to it that you might get to the end and ask yourself what the hell you just read.
Mabel Dagmar is on scholarship at a very expensive east coast college, and she shares a dorm room with the cooly aloof, terribly popular, beautiful Genevra Winslow. For months, Mabel isn't sure that Ev even knows of her existence, and then suddenly, Ev invites her to spend the summer at Bittersweet, her family's summer cottage. When Mabel arrives, she finds that Bittersweet isn't so much a cottage as it is a compound that supports the nearby town. Each member of Ev's family has their own little house, and Ev and Mabel settle in to the cottage that is to become Ev's. Welcomed in to the Winslow clan, Mabel suddenly has everything she's always wanted: a family, access to money, friendship, and love. But there are dark secrets behind the drawing room curtains, and soon Mabel must choose between exposure and expulsion or keeping her mouth - and eyes - closed.
I don't want to give too much away, but this family makes the Dollanganger family from Flowers in the Attic seem like the Waltons. Murder, rape, incest, coverups, extortion, embezzlement, kidnapping - it's all just a normal summer for the Winslow family. This book is a creepy, weird, and oddly fascinating read, and I kind of wanted to take a shower afterwards.