The Majesties by Tiffany Tsao

All Things Books / Review

About The Majesties,
Written by Will Heath, and was originally published in Books and Bao,
Jan 20, 2020

Thrillers have often held a close and vital relationship with family drama. Take the recent Rian Johnson film Knives Out, for instance, where we have an Agatha Christie-esque whodunnit set in an old family home. It’s a film which relies entirely on the cracked and broken family dynamic to carry its plot and its mystery. But in thrillers like this, the drama exists to serve the story, rather than being something worth exploring on its own merits. The Majesties flips this concept on its head, existing as an intricately woven family drama first, and a thriller second.

That being said, The Majesties certainly launches itself out of the gate with a first chapter that promises an intense thriller of a tale. Protagonist and narrator Gwendolyn has always been inseparably close to her sister Estella – they even went to the same college at the same time – but now she finds herself in a coma after Estella poisoned the shark fin soup at an enormous family gathering, murdering 300 guests. The sole survivor being Gwendolyn who, now trapped in her own comatose mind, has nothing to do but unravel the threads which led to this point. What moments in Estella’s life led her to this decision to kill 300 people, most of which were her own family?

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