First, let's get the cons out of the way. To quote a Goodreads reviewer, "Sara Shepard books are like crack. But like, really bad crack." Her books aren't going to win any literary awards, but I wouldn't go so far as to say she's a bad writer. I would say that with the genre she's boxed herself in (pretty girls who find themselves in a lot of trouble but can't tell anyone), she hasn't been given the proper opportunity to stretch her wings. This book is literally a rip-off of Pretty Little Liars (can you count it as a rip-off if the same author wrote them?): the Saybrook heiresses are being hunted down, one by one, but the killer threatens to reveal their dark secrets unless they cooperate. I guess Shepard figures, why fix what isn't broken? And she's good at what she does. I just hope that one day, she'll go in another direction genre-wise and show us what else she's capable of.
For the pros: I was surprised at how easy it was for me to read from four shifting POVs. Each character was fleshed-out and given a distinct personality. I read somewhere recently that there are books where you just really want to read from one POV and get bored with the other narrators. This was not the case. There wasn't a designated leader or main protagonist in The Heiresses. Each point-of-view was given the same amount of detail and attention, and for Sara Shepard to be able to do that in an under-400 page novel is amazing.
The novel played up the mystery angle right until the very end, with a plot twist that I felt I should've seen coming, but somehow didn't. Honestly, you could have asked me at page 50 and at page 300 who I thought the killer was, and both times my answer would've been, "I don't know!" There were a lot of red herrings which made me go, "Oh, this guy is totally the killer. They've caught him, I know it" only to be proven wrong. If you're the kind of mystery fan who likes to gather clues along the way and put the pieces together, then maybe this isn't the book for you, because the suspect came completely out of left field. Maybe I'm just dull, but in my opinion, there is NO WAY you could've figured out who it was.
My last pro for the book will sound completely shallow, but I honestly did enjoy the jet-set factor of the novel. Ever since I outgrew Lisi Harrison's The Clique and CW's Gossip Girl, I've been looking for a "lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous" series to fill in their shoes. If Sara Shepard decides to write more Heiresses books, it would be a perfect fit.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel and would recommend it to anyone in search of a light beach read, or perhaps wants to go beyond Rosewood and meet four new pretty
My rating: 7/10