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Dead Letters

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  5,196 Ratings  ·  859 Reviews
Ava doesn't believe it when the email arrives to say that her twin sister is dead. It's not grief or denial that causes her scepticism - it just feels too perfect to be anything other than Zelda's usual manipulative scheming. And Ava knows her twin.

Two years after she left, vowing never to speak to Zelda again after the ultimate betrayal, Ava must return home to retrace he
...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published February 21st 2017 by Random House
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Patricia
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
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Gabbie Shafer Yes. I think the reason the author left it at that is because literally none of the characters (Ava, Wyatt) wanted to vocalize it ever again.

Community Reviews

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Chelsea Humphrey
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Oh boy. I'm definitely in the minority it seems, so it must be me. I was initially put off after I realized this was not indeed the thriller or even intriguing mystery it's being touted as on NetGalley. This isn't the author's fault, which makes me feel terrible about not liking it more. I really was hoping that I could switch gears and still enjoy this after shifting gears and expectations, but I struggled with finding a single character I could connect with and like, even if just slightly. The ...more
Meredith
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Dead Letters is quite an interesting read. The characters are cold, cunning, and detestable, but the mystery is clever and intriguing.

Dead Letters is the story twin sisters, Atrocious Ava and Zigzagging Zelda (sorry for my use of adjectives but you will better understand if you read the book). 25 year old Ava returns home to her family’s winery in the Finger Lakes from Paris upon being informed of her twin’s death. It appears that Zelda has been murdered, but Ava believes that her reckless twin
...more
Fran
Apr 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Twins Ava and Zelda Antipova were born into a toxic family. By the time they were born, the family vineyard Silenus Wines produced a small yield of mediocre wine and profits were dwindling. Parents Nadine and Marlon fought constantly. Ava and Zelda were subjected to constant and sarcastic verbal abuse. One day, Marlon packed up and left. The twins were saddled with Nadine who was exhibiting genetic markers of alcoholism and starting to suffer from early onset dementia.

Ava was the straight laced
...more
Diane S ☔
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lor
3.5 Twins,, Ava and Zelda, the beginning and the end of the alphabet, raised by a pair of constantly fighting parents, they had each other and made the best of it. They grow up, Zelda the wild one. Ava the good girl, their parents divorce and their mother has dementia. An act of betrayal by the two people closest to her will send Ava fleeinh for Paris, leaving Zelda to handle their mother's deteriorating health and a failing vineyard. Ava is brought home by the news that her sister has perished ...more
Elyse
Mar 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Confession....
I don't drink alcohol. It's just never been my thing.
But I feel a little drunk after reading this book. My gosh- there is so much alcohol drinking - a tasting room and Vineyard make for an easy access to drink until one is unconscious. --- but if readers 'do enjoy wine - you might consider a glass while reading this novel. Could enhance the experience!

Drunk is..... business as usual! Passed out is......business as usual!
Moving on.....
The setting is lovely -
The blurb gives almos
...more
Miriam Smith
I was just a little disappointed in this book, even though the premise of it sounded really good. Ava's twin sister Zelda is believed to be dead in a barn fire. Through a series of emails Ava receives (from whom she assumes is her dead sister), she starts believing that Zelda may well be alive and playing a game with her, where she needs to follow the clues from A - Z in order to find her. This book is being categorised as a mystery thriller - which to be fair, there is an element of mystery to ...more
Sam
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was surprised by how much I liked Dead Letters, a novel filled with dysfunctional, detestable characters with a plot hinging on protagonist Ava Antipova playing an elaborate game set up by (is she? isn't she?) her dead sister Zelda, forcing Ava to confront mysteries, truths, lies about herself and her family. Though on the face of things, I wouldn't have thought this was my kind of book, I was pulled in to the twisted clues Ava was following, and the history of emotional manipulation and damag ...more
JanB
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
1.5 stars

There are a lot of 4 and 5 star reviews on here so I'm obviously the outlier.

Let me just say up front that I don't demand characters in the books I read to be likable. Many of my favorite books have unlikable characters and I joke that dysfunctional should be a genre of its own. But I need to be able to empathize or at least understand them a little. Or there needs to be enough humor to offset the distasteful character(s). Or the plot is so clever I can overlook it.

I've never met such
...more
Julie
Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach is a Random House publication.

This book first cropped up on my radar while reading the book section in the NYT. It seems there has been a little confusion as to which category this book belongs in. The Times seemed to think the book falls into the Gothic genre, while Amazon and GR labeled it a mystery/thriller. None of these really apply here, in my opinion.

What category would it fit into? Well, it could go into the psychological thriller category, only it’s n
...more
Monnie
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh my, my. What a wild ride - all the way from Astounding to Zero cool!

My choice of descriptor words is on purpose - a nod to the main characters in this book, twins Ava and Zelda, so named by their father for the order of their entrance in the world at birth (never mind that he got it wrong). It's also a nod to the plot itself, as a grown-up and gone-missing Zelda leaves a trail of alphabetical clues for sister Ava to follow in a quirky and potentially deadly "game."

Two years ago, Ava left the
...more
Sandy
Feb 15, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

Before I get into the story, I’d like to talk about helping a book find its audience. When I read the publicity blurb & saw it listed under Mystery/Thriller I thought oh goody, this is for me. Sadly it was not but through no fault of the author. Instead, I think it’s the victim of a poor choice in marketing which may lead to it being passed over by readers who enjoy family sagas & disappointment for those looking for a good thriller.
 
The story centres around 25 year old twins Av
...more
Liz Barnsley
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dead Letters was TOTALLY unexpected. In a great way for me but I should caution, the context in the marketing seems to be gearing it towards thriller or a typical psychological thriller audience (which I am too so I would probably have loved that also) but Dead Letters is far more on the side of literary mystery and family saga than it is sudden thrills or huge plot twists. So going into it with an open viewpoint will make a difference I feel.

This was beautiful writing, beautiful plotting and a
...more
CL
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ava and Zelda Antipova are twins and Ava left home 2 years ago to escape her twin and the life she was not prepared to live. Now her sister Zelda has died and she has to return home. Zelda was always the wild one and Ava was the one who always followed the rules. Ava suspects Zelda is playing a trick and now more than ever she is convinced when the letters and clues from Zelda start to arrive. As Zelda's clues lead her from one place to the next she begins to find out things about her sister tha ...more
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
* https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com
Dead Letters, by first time novelist Caite Dolan-Leach, is the story of Ava and Zelda Antipova, who are identical twins. The twins are estranged at the time of one of the twin’s tragic death in a fire. The remaining twin, Ava, isn’t at all convinced that her sister, who loved nothing more than drama and attention, is really dead. Soon after her death, Ava receives messages from the grave from her sister, sending her on a twisted scavenger hunt.

Dead Letters
...more
sue
This book is marketed in the thriller genre, so I was expecting more excitement thank what I got.

It kicked off well enough with the twin girls and how they were named.
Then an email arriving to one of the twins informing the other twin that her sister was dead, so that got me interested.

But I have to be honest in saying that the book was a roller coaster ride for me in between loving it, then it dipping to where I lost a bit of interest
The book is written very well .

There was an element of 'thr
...more
Jennifer Rose
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dead Letters

This book was one that I’ve had around for awhile...I had heard mixed reviews, so ultimately I pushed it back some on my to-read list. I totally understand why some readers were disappointed. Dead Letters was marketed as a mystery and thriller. It was definitely more mystery and minimal, if any, thriller. Now, I'll be the first to admit I love a great thriller, but I also love a book that can keep it simple and still hold your attention. This was for sure the latter.

Ava Antipova had
...more
Rachel
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Dead Letters probably has the weirdest vibe of anything I've ever read. If I had to explain this book to someone, I don't think it would be particularly helpful to summarize the plot, which makes it sound like a tense mystery instead of the literary character study that it is. I'm not really sure how I would explain it. There's something about it that reminds me vaguely of a film noir, told with a linguistic prowess and dramatic flair that calls to mind the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud. Somehow. Des ...more
Rebecca
Solid 4.5 stars! Loved this mystery from beginning to end, a total page turner. I agree with most of the reviewers that did not like the characters, but I find that not liking any of them really helped this book with the plot..if that makes sense.

This is my second BOM club book, and very happy with this choice...will definitely recommend to friends!!

Hope you enjoy as much as I did!!
Amanda
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Unpopular opinion time. I seem to be in the minority but I didn't like this book. Most of it was a 3 star read as it did keep me turning pages but I really didn't like the ending!
Debbie
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ava and Zelda are twins. Their parents thought it would be cool to name them using A and Z which would incorporate all the alphabet. Two years ago, Ava couldn't take living on their family's failing vineyard, their mother's ever slipping into dementia, a romantic betrayal and an absent family. She decides to leave and take up studies in Paris.

Then she receives the news that her twin sister, Zelda, is dead and she must return to upstate New York. Her sister has burned to death in the family barn.
...more
Vikki
This book threw me through a loop. I thought I knew where it was going and I was totally wrong. Ava and Zelda are twins who seem to feed off each other in an unhealthy way and also support each other in while growing up a broken home with alcoholic, psychological abusive parents. They have a falling out over a boyfriend and Ava escapes to France to go to graduate school and build her own life. The sudden death of her sister Zelda in a suspicious fire brings her home to her families' failing wine ...more
Book of the Month
THE WICKED GAMES YOU PLAY
By Judge Sarah Weinman

“A born creator of myths, my sister always liked to tell the story of how we were misnamed.” I knew from this first sentence that this debut thriller would be something special. For the narrator, Ava, was born minutes after her twin sister Zelda. The alphabet's reversal foreshadowed the sibling pecking order. Zelda is the wild, vibrant, larger-than-life twin. Ava is the buttoned-up, reserved, by-the-book twin. To put it in terms of stress responses
...more
Sarah Joint
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Smart, absorbing, and well-written. Reading this was a treat. Heed my advice, though: if you are a wine drinker like myself, make sure you have some in the house before you start this one. The long descriptions of flavor notes and wineries will surely leave you wanting otherwise. This is an author I must remember to watch! I'm really impressed with this debut.

Ava hasn't spoken to her twin Zelda in two years. She left the county, wanting to escape from her family, betrayal, and their failing vine
...more
Sarah at Sarah's Book Shelves
Headline:
This debut novel has absolutely everything and is one I’ll be recommending to just about everyone I know for a long time.

What I Loved:
- It’s rare that I find a book I can comfortably categorize as “literary” AND “brain candy.” These are my favorite kinds of books to discover and are the ones I feel like I can recommend to anyone at any time. Dead Letters is the first book I’ve read in awhile that fits this description.
- I knew within the first two paragraphs that I would love this book.
...more
Elaine
Look, I don't mind books with unlikable characters.

Heck, life is full of not nice people, some of them I even call family but I do expect to either sympathize, empathize or like one redeeming quality, even if the character may be an irredeemable sociopath bent on destroying the universe or some such nonsense.

Unfortunately, I can find very little good to say for Dead Letters where the dysfunctional Antipova family, a bunch of raging alcoholics with no charisma, talent or intelligence have ga
...more
Pamela
Mar 29, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-books
3.5 stars - Good writing, but I just really started disliking this family.

On a side note...we do judge books by their covers, and this is not a good cover (in my opinion). I don't feel it describes the twins at all.
Ashley Gillan
I would put this book at right around 3.5 stars. It's a intense story which kept me reading, but much like "The Good Daughter," "Dead Letters" had some flaws.

But overall, I did like this book, and I enjoyed guessing t lo see if I could figure it out (I didn't). It kept me plenty entertained, for sure.

The story revolves around Ava Antipova, who comes from an incredibly dysfunctional family of alcoholics (including her father who left the family and started again and her mother who was diagnosed w
...more
Naberius
Oct 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Ava Antipova returns home to the family vineyard in upstate New York after receiving news that her twin sister has died in a fire. After leaving home two years ago, and not speaking to her sister Zelda for that entire time, Ava's return is a bitter homecoming. Even in a family of alcoholics and eccentrics, Zelda was the wild one, notorious for her wild behavior and mind games. Knowing her sister, Ava finds the explanation of Zelda's death to be a little too neat. Her instincts become sharply obv ...more
Heather Fineisen
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: debut
this wasn't what I expected at all but it definitely pulled me in and is a greater sum of it's parts. Less a mystery and more of a dysfunctional family story, the author has come out with an impressive debut. not without some rough spots but overall it works.
Kate
Jul 10, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What do you get when you take a raging alcoholic, a raging alcoholic with dementia, a raging alcoholic doing heroin and an alcoholic commitmentphobe? Do you get a book? No, you get a series of disasters because alcoholics like to manufacture drama for their own entertainment. This book was billed as a mystery/thriller. There were definitely no thrills. And the only mystery was a weird and bizarre scavenger hunt that led to (spoiler here) NOTHING. The joke is on you if you read this. I am so so d ...more
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Around the Year i...: Dead Letters, by Caite Dolan-Leach 3 31 Mar 05, 2017 03:40PM  
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Caite Dolan-Leach is a writer and literary translator. She was born in the Finger Lakes region and is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin and the American University in Paris. Dead Letters is her first novel.
More about Caite Dolan-Leach

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“You know, you can start all kinds of relationships in your life,” Nadine continues. “But you only start life once. And you start it with a limited number of people. Those people, they do something to you.” 1 likes
“It’s maddeningly painful not to be able to speak with the dead. But maybe what Zelda was trying to tell me is that it’s nearly as difficult to speak with the living.” 1 likes
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