Goodreads: The Lost Twin
Series: Scarlet and Ivy #1
Published: February 2015
When Ivy’s twin sister Scarlet disappears at Rookwood Boarding School, Ivy is told to take her sister’s open spot–but she didn’t realize she was literally supposed to pretend to be Scarlet! Without anyone to confide in, Ivy finds herself trapped and wondering what secrets the school is hiding. Fortunately, Scarlet managed to hide pages of her diary for Ivy to find. Can Ivy track down the clues, piece together the story, and solve the mystery?
Initially I was unsure how I felt about this book, in light of Briana’s pointed critique of the depiction of twins in literature. Here we have the same old tropes. Scarlet and Ivy are mirror twins. Scarlet is the bold, rebellious one. Ivy is the quite, obedient one. Ivy herself sees herself as nothing more than the mirror image or shadow of her twin, not as a real person in her own right. Way to bow to societal pressure and deny your own individuality just because you’re a twin, Ivy! I had hoped for better.
As the book progresses, however, Ivy stops moping about how she’s no one. She kind of has to because apparently Scarlet is either dead or vanished, meaning she’s a non-factor now in Ivy’s identity–aside from the fact that the school Scarlet attended is now forcing Ivy to pretend that she is Scarlet. So Ivy does have to think a little about how Scarlet would behave–punch someone instead of walking away, example–but she seldom seems to really act how Scarlet would. She mostly keeps her mouth shut to avoid a caning and when she does punch someone, she means it–she’s not just acting as Scarlet.
So Ivy’s personality comes out in spite of herself and that allows the plot to progress more smoothly–we can stop worrying about how poor Ivy feels like a non-entity because she’s just too busy trying to find her lost sister, guided by clues Scarlet left in the pages of her diary, now scattered about school. It’s true that the premise is a little far-fetched, that no one ran across any of the pages by accident. It’s also true that one wonders why Ivy misses her sister so much since she seems like a nasty, vicious little thing. Maybe she was bullied, but she’s a bully herself. But the book doesn’t seem to want you to worry too much abut these things, just to enjoy to mystery. Mysteries set at boarding schools are always fun, right?
I’ll admit I’ve read better boarding school mysteries that made more sense and did not have to rely so much on really convoluted premises to make them work. For example, this Fox woman is like some sort of weird tyrant who runs the school even though she’s not in charge? No one finds it weird she personally inspects all outgoing mail? Other teachers know she’s nasty but just do whatever she says while the headmaster is away? There’s no post office in the town so girls can send their mail without inspection? No one goes home on holiday to tell their parents what a weird nightmare school is being run? No one asked for proof of the death of the missing girls? The list of unanswered questions goes on.
But despite all that the book is still kind of fun. Because I do love boarding school mysteries and I guess the publisher knows that a boarding school mystery will have many of its flaws overlooked. I’m not going to run out and buy the sequel, but I enjoyed this one.