Cover Image: He Started It

He Started It

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I didn’t think Samantha Downing could match My Lovely Wife but I think this almost did.  I didn’t have a clue where this novel was going and there were so many twists and turns I got dizzy and I loved it.
It started with a simple premise, siblings repeating a road trip they took with their grandfather.  Once completed they will inherit his estate.   So they start off the trip with their spouses and it seems simple just follow the route.  Nothing is what it seems though and every step of the journey seems to throw up another twist.  
I was so disappointed when I finished it and don’t want to say more as to ruin it for future readers.
Thanks to Penguin UK and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange For an honest review.
#WhoStartedIt #NetGalley
Was this review helpful?
This is a family centered story , very complex and all the members of the family were as guilty as each other. Money was at the root of the problem and there was an unexpected conclusion.  I found the storyline very depressing but strangely compelling.
Was this review helpful?
Absolutely enjoyed from start to finish, u didn't want the book to end. Highly recommended, if you like books that keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat.
Was this review helpful?
Wow! I can’t remember the last time a book knocked me off my feet.

Beth, Portia and Eddie are siblings on a road trip. Sounds good, right? I mean taking a trip with your brother and sister should be fun. However, this trip is anything but fun. These aren’t your regular siblings. It’s a crazy family full of secrets, lies, greed and manipulation.

I thought the road trip was so interesting though bizarre. Some of the attractions they stopped at like the Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum sounded made up but the author’s note at the end and Google confirm that this is an actual tourist attraction. Its not the only one in the story. The siblings stopped at a number of ‘not your everyday’ tourist attractions and some very dodgy motels.

Apart from their interesting stops, more danger is lurking on their road trip. It seems someone is following them and messing with their car in the middle of the night. Then comes the haunting music and nightly appearances. This book certainly had me at the edge of my seat. I couldn’t guess who was after the siblings and why.

Family secrets is another key feature of this road trip. The three are all hiding individual secrets and each reveal had my jaw dropping. Some of the twists were so good that I had to go back and reread them. I just loved every suspenseful bit of this story.

He Started It is a suspenseful, twisty, fast-paced, compelling thriller that will take you on one of the most insane road trips that you have ever been on. The ending is just as crazy. It actually made me gasp out loud. I can’t recommend this book enough. Once again, Samantha Downing has delivered a stunner of a psychological thriller!
Was this review helpful?
Ooh! This book was twisty and drama filled! If you are a regular visitor to my blog you will know I love a flawed character and what can I say this story was jam packed full of them. Which gave it a big tick from me straight away! I guess in a way I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I picked up He Started It. I knew from reading Samantha Downing’s previous book that I would probably be in for a bit of a rollercoaster ride. Although maybe a little uncertain of what surprises were going to be in store for me.

After the flawed characters got a tick then the road trip aspect easily got another one too. I do love a road trip theme! Let’s be honest even if you do get on as a family you can be certain that on a road trip there will definitely be tension and maybe a few arguments along the way. I mean, how can there not be in such close confines. However let’s just say that these siblings take the usual rivalry and arguments to a whole other level. As a group of characters I found myself unable to completely like them and to be fair that is the point but they were also written in such a way that I couldn’t help but be invested in their story. You would definitely call this family dysfunctional especially the more the story progresses and the past reveals itself.

Even though there is a slow burn quality to it I pretty much spent the whole time reading as quickly as I could. I just had to know how it would all turn out. He Started It had that all important addictive quality along with a twisty nature that kept me on my toes. Along with giving me a drama packed family reunion. The less you know about it the better. That way you can discover it all for yourself and be taken on an addictive twisty and crazy journey!
Was this review helpful?
I hated this book-  I received an advanced read copy  in return form honest review.  The digital copy  I received to review had numbers 1-30 dispersed throughout each and every page which was very distracting and almost impossible to read.  I did try to persevere to do the author justice for the privilege of receiving the ARC and I did read it to the end but this just ruined the whole experience and pleasure of reading.  I found it a chore to finish and spoiled the flow of the storyline as I kept having to walk away from it to give my google eyes a break.   
From what I did manage to salvage from the storyline, I can’t divorce wether I felt it was monotonous and unduly drawn out or that the difficulty reading each page put me off.  I feel disappointed and underwhelmed after having stuck with it at the ending.  Crap crap crap.
Was this review helpful?
I’m afraid I couldn’t get into this. I loved the first novel by Samatha Dowling and was excited for this one but I got a few chapters in and couldn’t get much further. The characters weren’t that likeable and I was confused as to their relationships to each other.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley for the chance to read this in exchange for an honest review.

This is the second book I have read by Samantha Downing I absolutely loved "My lovely Wife" and I would say it was one of my most memorial read so perhaps my expectations were simply too high but I am sad to say I didnt like this book at all. The book was very slow, too slow for me. I found I disliked all the characters so cared very little for what was going on and I was just wishing it would end. I did complete the book but I did skip quite a bit but even so I found it predictable and very uninteresting. This will not put me off reading more of Samantha's books but sadly for me this one missed the mark
Was this review helpful?
He Started It’ is the latest book by Samantha Downing.

No-one knows you better than your family. They know the little things that make you smile. Your proudest achievements. Your darkest secrets. Sure, you haven’t always been best friends. But if it seemed as though someone was after you, that you might be in danger, then you’d be on each other’s side. Right?

When I initially started this book, I found it slow to get started, the concept is a fascinating one. A brother and two sisters have to go on a road trip to scatter their grandfather’s ashes in the Nevada desert. Once they have done this, they will all receive quite a sizeable inheritance. The only thing is they’re having to re-enact a road trip that took place twenty years ago and changed their lives forever.

The story is seen solely through the flashbacks and narrative of the older sister Beth, as she counts down the days until the road is over. Only her brother Eddie and sister Portia know what really happened years ago, whilst Felix, Beth’s husband and Eddie’s new wife Krista are clueless.

As they travel through the different states on the road trip, it stirs up new unwanted memories and feelings that cause upset and paranoia to the siblings especially when they are convinced that they are being followed. The road trip is a dark one as they visit Bonnie and Clyde and UFO museums which make for fascinating and informative reading about the criminal duo.

Once I got into the story, I found that it flows at an interesting pace, with many twists and revelations throughout the story that kept the reader engaged. The flashbacks to the previous road trip give an insight into what happened many years ago and keeps the reader on their toes.

I found the characters all quite interesting and flawed in their own way, with her shared secrets and the commitment to carry out a task purely for the money.

‘He Started It’ is a twisty and unique storyline that really pulls the reader in. Injected with humour from sibling rivalry and suspense throughout, this gripping road trip take many dark turns along the way before reaching its final destination.

You can buy ‘He Started It’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.
Was this review helpful?
Samantha Downing messed with my mind again this domestic suspense novel of a family that puts the fun in dysfunctional! The plot is deceptively simple, they are searching for their Grandfather’s hidden treasure by following the exact route they traveled one Summer as children, until things go Twilight Zone strange.  At times it reminded me of the movie It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World with the flashbacks akin to & Little Miss Sunshine.
Was this review helpful?
I loved Downing's previous novel and this one was just as gripping and twisty but taking the brilliant topic of sibling rivalry and  a road trip. Keeping me guessing until the very end, I loved the character portraits of each sibling and the other family members.
Was this review helpful?
In "He Started It" three estranged Morgan siblings meet again after their grandfather's death for a road trip in order to become their inheritance. And it's not A road trip, it's THE road trip, duplicating the one with their Grandpa when they were children, the one they will probably never forget. There are also some stipulations in the will that they must fulfil, for example that nobody is allowed to end in jail - sounds already promising, no? As all three of them, Beth, Portia and Eddie need the money, and it's a great amount of money, they of course agree to do it, even though they're not too excited about it, because they know that everything can happen, they only don't know how bad it can be... And so they take us on an adventure full of betrayals, secrets, lies and imploding relationships.

This book was filled with characters that were, actually, impossible to like but, as I've already learnt, you don't have to like the characters to enjoy the book - it is more challenging for the reader, I think, to persevere, but this time it fully paid off, as the story was full of twists and turns and it was getting more and more bonkers. I'm not sure if it was believable to me, certainly it was not relatable but maybe this is the strength of this story, so simply make yourself comfortable and go on this roller - coaster journey together with the characters.

I can't stop thinking that perhaps telling the story, instead of making Beth a narrator, would be a better idea, because we only got her point of view. And she was not the most relatable or the most interesting narrator, let's be honest. On the other hand, I enjoyed the fact that she was not relatable, her humour and sarcasm, and yes, she admits she's not perfect, that she's a cheater - she really kept playing with my mind, and I quickly learnt that I can't be sure if she's telling the truth. She was wild, edgy and brutally honest in her opinions. Through her eyes we also learn about her family history and really, the more I read, the more shocked I was. Because the family described in "He Started It" could win a jackpot in the most dysfunctional family of the year contest. Really, guys, the more I read and the more I got to know the whole family, I couldn't believe how dysfunctional they are and was actually scared to see what more information can wait around the corner. The relationships between the family members, the hate, mistrust and false loyalties... urgh, I tell you, it was not nice, not nice at all.

There were moments that the story dragged on too much, it felt as if the book plodded along, and after many long moments of not many things happening, the author started to throw twist after twist after twist, totally taking me by surprise. But there were also moments that made me roll my eyes. Yes. I know it's fiction, I know it's supposed to be a thriller but I still need a certain amount of believability in the book.
And I don't know, I'm not sure about the end. I've finished this book some time ago and still don't know what to think about it. Isn't it a bit too... ambiguous?

It was original and refreshing, more bonkers and crazy than a thriller to be honest. However, because of this bonkers and crazy I think it was hard to me to connect with the story. I loved the writing style, it was sharp and fast and filled with sarcastic humour, and the descriptions of the places were brilliant, the author truly brings them all to life. It was full of lies, secrets and twists that kept coming and coming and the characters turn out to be totally different to what we could have thought about them. It's about siblings rivalry, betrayals, lies and, altogether, dysfunction. It was clever and sharp - observed, oddly addictive and something totally different to what I have expected and I really like the surprise effect it had on me.
Was this review helpful?
'For the Morgan siblings, separation is the best form of togetherness'...

Take three dysfunctional siblings, add a bucketload of deep dark family secrets, throw in a family road trip required to receive an inheritance, and you've got 'He Started It', a surprisingly fun thriller/black comedy hybrid.

If I'm honest, I'm surprised how much I ended up liking this one. The introduction is quite slow, the Morgan siblings are all completely unlikeable, and the plot (which can essentially be summed up as a present day road trip which also includes flashbacks to a road trip in the past) sounds dull as dishwater. But once you get past that slightly tricky quarter, the book itself is actually bloody brilliant - engaging, well-paced and full of plenty of mystery along with moments of sharp and dark humour. The ending is also perfect, a quick BAM BAM BAM of twists coming out of nowhere and yet making complete sense.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised. A fun enjoyable book that manages to turn several of the traditional thriller tropes on their head in a fun yet dark kinda way. Definitely one I'd recommend.

Disclaimer - I was fortunate enough to receive an advance reading copy from NetGalley. This has not affected my review in any way, and all opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
A dark psychological thriller about three siblings re-tracing a childhood road trip they took with their late grandfather across America, to ensure they gain their share of inheritance. A thrill ride full of lies and murder, you won't want to by-pass.
Was this review helpful?
Welcome to my stop on the #BLOGTOUR for the very gripping and very readable – He started it by Samantha Downing.

Samantha Downing has been an author who I’ve been meaning to read for ages now – I have read FANTASTIC review after fantastic review for her debut novel – My lovely wife. And even though I have the book I still haven’t made the time to sit down and read it. Mistake. Because after being wowed by He started it I am sure Samantha Downing will become an auto-buy author for me.

I loved it. It was dark, edgy and full of twists.

He started it – is a family road trip with a dark difference. It was a road trip around America and also down memory lane – it was a story of three adult estranged siblings travelling together to revisit a road trip that was a big part of their childhood. And when they reached the end they were planning on standing together and spreading the ashes of their late grandfather – the road trip and the ashes are part of a cryptic final message and a necessity if they wish to inherit a substantial inheritance. But it also one complicated mess. And not everyone makes it out…

There are no nice characters – Beth, Portia and Eddie Morgan, as well as their spouses, have ALL got secrets and some rather disturbing stories. The road trip was a slow revealing of some very tense sibling rivalries and some dark pasts. The writing was good, but it was the characters that kept the story following and although the story was one big journey, the surrounds and setting all felt similar. The American tourist setting served as background noise for the characters thoughts, plots and devious behaviours.

The first quarter of the book was quite slow but then the pacing picked up and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out what was happening. I was confused. I felt a bit lost at times – but it all worked! I loved every pit stop, every argument and every hidden deception. And Downing did a great job at creating a claustrophobic atmosphere that didn’t let up – I was glad to be along for the journey but very glad I wasn’t in that car or part of that VERY dysfunctional family. And…

Wow – What an ending!

For me He started it by Samantha Downing was ALL about the ending, it genuinely left me open-mouthed. The ending surprised me. Totally surprised me. And that doesn’t happen often!

He started it was a TENSION filled and utterly, utterly gripping page-turner of a read! It won’t be a book I forget anytime soon.

I received a copy of He started it by Samantha Downing for review from the publisher, via the NetGalley – Thank you.
Was this review helpful?
I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest, independent review.

"No-one knows you better than your family. They know the little things that make you smile. Your proudest achievements. Your darkest secrets. Sure, you haven't always been best friends. But if it seemed as though someone was after you, that you might be in danger, then you'd be on each other's side. Right?"

Such an amazing, dark, twisted plot; I didn't know where it would end. I was left hanging on the edge so many times, not knowing where the book would go, as it was so unpredictable. The book built up to a brilliant, intense ending which stunned me - I did not see that coming for miles!

The main characters, three siblings, are just as dark, mysterious and evil as each other, and well-written. From the start, it's clear they are full of secrets and not honest with each other, or honest people at all.

The pace is gripping and addictive; it's one of the best thrillers I've read in a long time.
Was this review helpful?
Ooh...was this a good one! 🔪⁣
My Lovely Wife was always going to be tough to follow but Samantha Downing did it! Another 𝐠𝐫𝐢𝐩𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐠, 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐮𝐥𝐬𝐢𝐯𝐞 and 𝐭𝐰𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐝 read, which, although it was technically a slow burn, 𝐟𝐞𝐥𝐭 𝐬𝐨 𝐟𝐚𝐬𝐭 𝐩𝐚𝐜𝐞𝐝 (I think it was the road-trip aspect).⁣
The 𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐚 𝐛𝐢𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐚 𝐫𝐨𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐫𝐜𝐨𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫 and I personally loved it, 𝐚𝐥𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡 𝐢𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐞𝐧𝐣𝐨𝐲 𝐚𝐦𝐛𝐢𝐠𝐮𝐨𝐮𝐬 𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬, 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐦𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐲𝐨𝐮! ⁣
I don’t want to say too much as this book isn’t even out in the US until July and I don’t want to spoil anything but if you loved #mylovelywife you will love this one too! ⁣
I feel like this would be a good fit for both those who love thrillers and those looking to dip their toe into the genre! Definitely give this one a go! 👏⁣
C/W : domestic abuse, child abuse ⁣
Was this review helpful?
No-one knows you better than your family.
They know the little things that make you smile. Your proudest achievements. Your darkest secrets.
Sure, you haven't always been best friends.
But if it seemed as though someone was after you, that you might be in danger, then you'd be on each other's side.
So gripping you won't stop reading.
So twisty that you won't know who to trust.
And so dark that you'll realise something truly chilling:
No-one is more dangerous than the ones who know you best.

This is a brilliant read.
Wonderful well written plot and story line that had me engaged from the start.
Love the well fleshed out characters and found them believeable.
Great suspense and found myself second guessing every thought I had continuousluy.
Can't wait to read what the author brings out next.
Recommend reading.

I was provided an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher.  This is my own honest voluntary review.
Was this review helpful?
When estranged siblings- Eddie, Beth and Portia- are reunited following the death of their grandfather, they have no idea what a life-changing time is ahead of them. They are forced to go on the same road trip they did 20 years ago and follow the same exact itenary in order to be able to claim their inheritance. No ifs, ands or buts; fail and you're out.   
None of them has forgotten the first road trip as we slowly get to know their story through present conversations and flashbacks. Will it be better the second time around? Is it the closure they need? 
The premise of this book is great: told through 2 timelines to unveil family secrets and grudges while exploring little-known sights in the US. There are twists and surprises throughout the book; some are foreseeable, some will come out of the blue to have you second-guessing your predictions. 
However, the pace is very slow. It can make you feel like you're on this trip, along with the siblings, in real time. The ending on the other hand feels rushed and somewhat surreal. I liked this book, not as much as My lovely wife, but I'll make sure to check out the next one by Samantha Downing as well.
Was this review helpful?
My Lovely Wife was my absolute favourite book of 2019, therefore I was thrilled to be offered a review copy of He Started It by the same author. Three siblings together with two of their spouses embark on a road trip across America. This is no ordinary holiday as the reason for their trip is to scatter the ashes of their recently deceased Grandfather. The trip must recreate a journey taken 20 years earlier and if completed, they will each inherit a large sum of money. This is by no means a pleasurable trip down memory lane. The siblings rarely get together and have little trust betwen them. However, they know they must complete the journey despite their misgivings. A long journey with twists and turns, strange events, secrets revealed and secrets kept. Can you trust your closest relatives? As the trip continues and the past returns to haunt them, will any of them finish the journey unscathed? A slow burner of a story that has the reader believing one sibling, then another until eventually the truth and shocking finale is revealed. Another great story from Samantha Downing, I look forward to the next one.
Was this review helpful?