ARC Review: He Started It by Samantha Downing

Beth, Portia, and Eddie Morgan haven’t all been together in years. And for very good reasons—we’ll get to those later. But when their wealthy grandfather dies and leaves a cryptic final message in his wake, the siblings and their respective partners must come together for a cross-country road trip to fulfill his final wish and—more importantly—secure their inheritance.

But time with your family can be tough. It is for everyone.

It’s even harder when you’re all keeping secrets and trying to forget a memory—a missing person, an act of revenge, the man in the black truck who won’t stop following your car—and especially when at least one of you is a killer and there’s a body in the trunk. Just to name a few reasons.

But money is a powerful motivator. It is for everyone.

I actually really enjoyed this one and couldn’t put it down! The writing has such an addictive quality to it, I couldn’t wait to find out more and more as I read. I always know it’s a good book when I’m still thinking and talking about it long after I’ve finished it, and “He Started It” is definitely one of those books for me. I have not read anything else like this, it’s one wild ride that’s for sure. 

    This is a very fast paced thriller with a big focus on family drama and secrets. It revolves around a group of siblings (and their respective spouses) taking a road trip across America after their grandfather dies in order to receive their inheritance. The catch is they must recreate the EXACT road trip they all took with him when they were younger and as you read you slowly discover the past trip may not be as extravagant and fun as we thought. I really enjoyed how it slowly reveals the secrets of the past trip while the current trip is unfolding. I needed to know what was going to happen and what previously happened on the past trip. This kept me turning pages and turning pages, I loved it!

    The story is told through Beth’s POV, the eldest sister, and she is an unlikable and at times unreliable narrator. She doesn’t sugarcoat anything, and is very blunt, which is a big part of why I personally enjoyed her POV and it could be darkly funny at times. Sometimes she would even be speaking directly to the reader, which I always think is fun when reading. The group is pretty unlikable as a whole, everyone has their little quirks and they’re out for themselves. Which, of course, makes things pretty interesting especially when there’s an inheritance to consider. I love a story with tons of family drama, it’s just so addictive for me. Tell me more juicy gossip and secrets, please! This story was packed full of it too. Each character seemed to have their own demons they were battling with and their own secrets they were keeping.

Combine the current dysfunctional family drama with the childhood road trip secrets coming to light and the sort of “countdown” until they reach their end destination and you have a recipe for an un-put-downable book. It will certainly keep you guessing until the very end, there’s no shortage of twists and I’m happy to say I didn’t see a lot of them coming. However, this did make things at times a little confusing. There would be so much happening at once especially as twists were revealed, that I felt like, “Wait! What?!”. This was a minor thing and of course I figured a lot of it out once I continued reading but it could be slightly overwhelming.

    Speaking of the ending. Oh boy. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like that and I think that’s part of the big reason I personally liked it. I do have some conflicting thoughts though and I think certain people will also, which is part of why I think certain readers will not enjoy this ending as much. On the one hand it ends pretty abruptly and I was left with a few minor questions, while not completely integral to the story they were some small things I was left wondering about. It’s difficult to explain without spoiling it but while I don’t love how some things were sort of left open I do love what a twist and shock the ending was. Blew me away!

As I already briefly mentioned the “main” character is Beth, whose POV the story is told in. She is on the road trip with her husband, Felix, her younger sister Portia, and her older brother, Eddie, and his new wife, Krista. Every. Single. One. Has secrets and motives for completing this trip to inherit all that money from the grandfather. They’re all also assholes in their own way, which I don’t understand why, but I think this makes for a more interesting reading experience. Normally I’d go into a bit more detail with each character but honestly this book has them functioning as a whole more than anything, in my opinion. Plus I don’t want to give anything away, it’s better if you just go in blind to details about each of them.

What I Loved:

  • Fast pacing and addictive writing style.
  • Dysfunctional family with secrets upon secrets.
  • Past and current road trip POVs being told simultaneously, made things so tense!
  • Unreliable narrator and unlikable characters (in a good way!).
  • Plenty of shocking twists and turns.
  • That freaking ending!

What I Didn’t Love:

  • The ending was abrupt.
  • A few small things at the end weren’t “tied up neatly” which left me curious .
  • So many twists being revealed at once could be overwhelming at times, especially towards the end.

Overall I would definitely recommend giving this a read if you’re into fast paced thrillers or if you enjoy family drama in books. “He Started It” will definitely take you for a ride and I had tons of fun with it, I’ll also be checking out future books by Samantha Downing because of this!

Trigger Warnings: Mention of Physical Abuse, Death, Drugging, Alcohol Consumption, & Gaslighting

**** Huge thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review ****

Links (Check it out on Goodreads or Order a Copy!):
Goodreads / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository Amazon

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The Sassy


2 thoughts on “ARC Review: He Started It by Samantha Downing

  1. Pingback: Best Books of 2020

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