The Twin's Daughter, by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Release Date: August 2010
Received: Library book
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
This perfectly Gothic tale opens in the early 1900s when narrator Lucy Sexton is thirteen years old. After answering the doorbell, Lucy is shocked to see her beloved mother Aliese standing before her gaunt and in rags. Only the woman isn't Lucy's mother. The woman quickly reveals herself to be Aliese's twin sister Helen, separated at birth on the recommendation of a psychic and sent to live in poverty while Aliese was raised with luxury. Claiming no resentments on either side, Helen is welcomed into the family and quickly given a wardrobe, lessons, and all of the accoutrements of a lady. Lucy is overjoyed by her aunt's presence, finally feeling like she has a friend and sister. However, nothing is as it seems, and as the differences between Aliese and Helen are smoothed away leading to confusion as to which twin is which, secrets, jealousy, and resentments simmer beneath the façade of civility.
This book is perfect for those days when you want to curl up in a comfortable chair with a warm drink while the weather rages outside. Perfectly atmospheric, The Twin's Daughter wraps you up in layer upon layer of mystery as it steadily builds to a shocking climax--only the story doesn't end there. Baratz-Logsted treats us to not one, not two, but three jaw-dropping climaxes with each revelation providing more clues that both answer questions and send the reader down garden paths. At one point I was absolutely convinced I had it all figured out (I was even slightly annoyed with the main character for not having realized the answer sooner) only to discover that I was completely wrong! You're kept guessing up until the very end, but even if a reader were more accurate in their conclusion than I was, the story is still entirely absorbing.
Lucy is an excellent narrator whose voice is both appealing and evocative. Her manner of speech and observations all help build the setting, effectively transporting the reader into Lucy's world. Her innocence and naïve descriptions of things she does not understand juxtaposed with the sinister occurrences and dark foreshadowing we the reader accurately recognize is especially effective in building tension and fear for Lucy.
Though Lucy's story begins when she is only thirteen and ends when she is in her late teens, her role and narration style help The Twin's Daughter transcend the YA genre. Lucy's recounting of the mysteries surrounding the adults in her life leaves her in the position of almost an omniscient narrator, and though the main character is a young adult, the story is primarily about the adults she observes. Adults who shun this book on the grounds that it is a YA title are doing themselves a disservice.
That isn't to say the book is entirely observational. Lucy endearingly relates her changing feelings for her neighbor, a wry boy named Kit who first teases her and later falls in love with her. Kit and Lucy's relationship is tender and perfectly paced (a stark contrast to the love at first sight romances that seem to make up a large bulk of YA lately). Baratz-Logsted sensitively recounts Lucy's development from a young girl to a woman, realistically portraying her thoughts and feelings to the events she experiences and their effect on her personality.
Fans of gothic novels like Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale, John Harwood's The Seance, and Emily Bronte's Wutherine Heights (all books I adore) will delight in The Twin's Daughter. The Twin's Daughter is a perfect example of classic storytelling. Highly recommended.
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