The Family Game by Catherine Steadman | #BookReview #PsychologicalThriller #thrillerbooks

1. Listen carefully
2. Do your research
3. Trust no one
4. Run for your life

Harriet Reed, a novelist on the brink of literary stardom, is newly engaged to Edward Holbeck, the heir of an extremely powerful family. And even though Edward has long tried to severe ties with them, news of the couple’s marital bliss has the Holbecks inching back into their lives.

As Harriet is drawn into their lavish world, the family seems perfectly welcoming. So when Edward’s father, Robert, hands Harriet a tape of a book he’s been working on, she is desperate to listen.

But as she presses play, it’s clear that this isn’t just a novel. It’s a confession.

A confession to a grisly crime. A murder. And, suddenly, the game is in motion.

Feeling isolated and confused, Harriet must work out if this is part of a plan to test her loyalty. Or something far darker. What is it that Robert sees in her? Why give her the power to destroy everything?

This might be a game to the Holbeck family—but losing might still prove deadly.

What’s it about (in a nutshell):

The Family Game by Catherine Steadman is a psychological thriller about a wealthy family that enjoys its secrets and games.

Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):

I know this book is a psychological/domestic thriller, so I’m hoping for a fast-paced story that will shock me with surprising twists and turns.

Actual Reading Experience:

I hardly know what to say about The Family Game. It’s so dark and disturbing that it genuinely leaves me speechless. Have you ever read The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell? You may have read it in school. I know I did. In it, a big game hunter ends up on an island where he becomes the hunted. Give that story a family twist and a different setting, and you will have something close to The Family Game.

It’s the story of a wealthy family and the games they like to play – games that definitely have a substantial element of darkness that will make you wonder about each and every family member. The games are what make the pace explode until you can’t turn the pages fast enough to see if anyone makes it through the games alive.

The writing homes in on just the right elements of suspense and describes them in such a way that I felt I was there watching it all unfold. Safely and from a distance, of course, because you couldn’t have paid me any amount of money to play. There are some gaps in the plot, but with everything going on, I didn’t think twice about ignoring them and just following the story where it took me.

There are surprising twists and turns as well, which I always love. I didn’t expect the story to turn out as it did. I wasn’t sure how this tale would turn out at any point, and I just let the story happen. I always enjoy a thriller more when I take this reading stance, and it didn’t let me down this time.


Harry (Harriet) is an author who writes psychological or domestic thrillers, as near as I can tell. She was orphaned as a child and lived a very independent life as an adult. She has no family, so when she meets and falls in love with

Edward, she can’t wait to meet and be part of his rather large one. Harry is likable even though she mentions that she’s keeping secrets more than once. Character development is non-existent in this story, so I never felt like I knew her or any of the other characters very well.

Narration & Pacing:

The story is told in first-person narration by Harry, which works well. She keeps her own secrets from the reader and doesn’t know everyone else’s secrets. So, the reader gets to experience those revelations as Harry does.

The pace is rapid, and the plot is focused. It definitely could and should be called a page-turner because those pages do turn quickly. I enjoyed the pace most of all the aspects of note in this book.


The setting is New York, with most of the story happening at the Holbeck’s family estate outside the city. With the estate set up as it was with a maze and plenty of nooks and crannies, it was perfect for a story about dangerous family games.

What It Reminds Me Of:

The Most Dangerous Game with a family twist

Read it if you like:

  • Disturbing domestic/psychological thrillers
  • Fast-Paced stories
  • Shocking twists and turns
  • The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell

Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐💫

Writing Quality10
Character Development8
‘Couldn’t Put It Down’-ness10
Use of Setting10
All scores, except the overall rating, are on a scale of 1-10. The overall rating is converted to the standard 5-point system.

23 Replies to “The Family Game by Catherine Steadman | #BookReview #PsychologicalThriller #thrillerbooks”

  1. Ooh.. this sounds delightfully disturbing. I’m intrigued.
    Great review, Tessa, and thanks for sharing!


  2. I’m glad the pace and unexpectedness were there to help make up for the lack of character development. A great review as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The pace is so fast that you don’t even have time to realize that the characters are one dimensional until you look back at them

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hmm, I’m torn on this. Normally I would count it as a book I enjoy, but I’m afraid it might be too dark for me. Coupled with the lack of character development, I’ll probably give it a pass.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think the darkness would bother you as much as the plot gaps would. The darkness is really violence related of the serial killer kind but I don’t recall any triggers or anything like that.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It is extremely interesting – in a deeply disturbing way. This was one of the better first person narrations I’ve read in the genre.


  4. I am a little bummed I didn’t pick this one for Book of the Month – seems pretty good!

    Liked by 1 person

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