...if Crazy Rich Asians was all about the luster and the shiny surface, The Majesties is focused on the grit and ruthlessness that makes the opulence possible ... It's certainly a fascinating premise, and it drew me in right away. The decision to reveal the answer to the mystery at the beginning of the novel was a daring one, but it necessarily forces readers to focus on the events that led to this drastic event, rather than treating it as a traditional thriller ... a fascinating and well-written story ... Every character involved is despicable in their own way, including the narrator, Doll, but the book is never difficult to read ... Tsao excels at delivering biting social commentary while also telling a riveting story ... a resounding success. It's shocking how enjoyable and delicious this dark, disturbing novel was, and that unease will sit with me for a long time to come.
The novel sometimes slides tentatively into fantasy ... the tale’s thriller elements and twisty ending might strike some readers as tacked onto a more conventional story rather than organically part of it. Still, Tsao deftly juggles a large cast of characters, and her thorough examination of the life of a wealthy Chinese-Indonesian family, as well as her insights into the false assumptions those in the Chinese, Indonesian, and Western communities make about its members, are intelligent and lively.
A sobering look at the dark side of extreme wealth among Chinese families in Indonesia ... Tsao's writing shines when she depicts the ways that the two wealthy families choose to ignore domestic abuse in their midst, revealing the misogyny at the heart of the patriarchal clans ... Readers may be thrown by the abrupt shifts in tone, but Tsao's depiction of domestic abuse is powerful.
It’s a fantastic hook for a novel that is described as a 'thriller' (for want of a precise description), a book that is more a psychological study of people raised with a golden spoon in their mouths ... Together the sisters track down a long-lost favorite yet rebellious aunt who appears in a photo well after she supposedly 'drowned' on a boating excursion; alongside the sisters, the reader feels the excitement and suspense of finding this aunt years later ... The book is written in an easy style of prose that is both taut and descriptive, the characters sympathetic, the elevated lifestyle so easy for the reader to soak up from this side of the page ... The Majesties, although it rolls out easily, troubles deeply, haunting and even chilling its reader well beyond the final page.
Tsao (The Oddfits) cannily pulls back the gilded surface from a wealthy Indonesian family, revealing a rotten core ... The plot takes a while to hit its stride, but once it does, the narrative unfolds in a manner that’s both suspenseful and creepily claustrophobic. The novel also prompts readers to consider the cultural relativism of stereotypes ... This is a bold and dramatic portrayal of characters on the cusp of an impossible choice between complicit self-preservation and total annihilation.
... wholly captivating from the first frightening scene to the final surprising twist ... Although best classified as a mystery, The Majesties transcends the genre with affecting prose that is both quiet and contemplative. Even still, the novel’s very few thrilling moments will haunt every reader. Tsao explores race and domestic abuse with sincerity, proving Tsao’s proficiency as a writer. The Majesties is perfect for anyone who finds the search for motive as interesting as the crime itself.