In Alexandra Monir’s Suspicion, seventeen-year-old Imogen Rockford learns about her past and attempts to uncover the many secrets surrounding her childhood home, Rockford Manor.
Monir’s novel, a “supernatural thriller,” is billed as a “modern-day, young adult twist on the classic gothic novel Rebecca.” I’ll admit I’ve never read Rebecca, but even without that background (but thanks to Dr. Google), I think something about the story was lost in the process of twisting.
The story follows Imogen Rockford, the daughter of Lord and Lady Rockford, as she learns secrets about her family, past, and childhood home. Despite all of the changes in her life, though, I never felt that she learned much about herself or changed in any significant way. I found myself troubled at how she moved so quickly from one emotion to another, and from one idea or decision to another. It was not entirely believable when she hardly ruminated over leaving her adoptive parents in New York City to move back to Rockford Manor in England, a place she avoided even mentioning after enduring a life-altering tragedy there as a young girl.
So many times, Imogen makes decisions based on the fact that she has “no other choice,” and she discovers that she has “somehow gained” a variety of insights. I would have loved to see more of that “somehow,” to see more into her head about the choices she makes. Late in the novel, she says, “I push my emotions aside. There’s much more I need to find out before I can process anything fully.” The problem is, I never saw that processing. I never got enough in her head to be fully invested in her as a character, to “root for her” as a young adult heroine. For me, that would have made her a much more well developed—if still not-very-diverse—main character (see note at end of review). I felt that her cousin, Lucia—a pivotal character in the mystery and the cause of Imogen’s return to Rockford—was much more of a developed character than Imogen.
I was interested in the mystery of what happened to Imogen and Lucia’s parents in the maze, and intrigued by the secrets surrounding Maisie and her mother. I think if not for the presence of those elements I would not have been invested in the novel at all. Also, I feel that the element of magic included in the book was not developed enough to make it a compelling part of the story; at times, it felt forced and inconsequential to the story, despite the connection to the history of Rockford Manor.
Overall, I felt that the novel could’ve been better. It was good as a light, entertaining read, but I craved more development in Imogen so I could be more invested in her development as a character.
Note: As we continue to recognize the need for diverse books for diverse readers, I was a bit troubled by Imogen being another blonde-haired, blue-eyed, privileged female protagonist, though the context of the novel (the retelling of Rebecca), and Imogen being a wealthy scion explains the author’s choice.