Title: My Sister’s Bones
Author: Nuala Ellwood
Publisher: Penguin Books
Published: February 2017
Genre: Psychological, Thriller, Mystery, Adult.
Average Goodreads rating: 4.12
ARE YOU BRAVE ENOUGH TO GO BACK?
Kate Rafter is a successful war reporter. She’s the strong one. The one who escaped Herne Bay and the memories it holds. Her sister Sally didn’t. Instead, she drinks.
But when their mother dies, Kate is forced to return to the old family home. And on her first night she is woken by a terrifying scream.
What secret has Kate stumbled upon?
And is she strong enough to uncover the truth . . . and make it out alive?
My Rating and General Opinion
Promising from page one. This read didn’t turned out to be what I was expecting, at least not that with that beginning to the story, but it surprised me in the best possible ways. What a debut for an author, what a debut!!
The writing throughout this novel was compelling, so much that it made me lose myself completely in the story. This novel reads like a true story, where every character and occurrence feels completely real to me. It had something special that made it addictive in a certain way. It took me two sittings (two days) to finish it, so that’s a good sign. In fact, the short chapters and the fluidity of the writing made this story time-consuming, as in it was hard to stop reading it!
The writing is clearly separated in two parts, each one corresponding to each sister, and the voices are clearly separated and each part being completely different. That difference is not only noted in each sister’s perspective but also the way everything is written in. In the first part we find a slow burner and more psychologically inclined plot, while on the second part we find ourselves immersed in a fast-paced and action packed storyline following Sally. This division makes it easy to think about this novel as two separate ones, but the truth is that both parts are linked in perfect synchronization.
I’ll be keeping things as vague as possible because I think the less you know about this one, the better your experience will be.
This story stars with Kate, a journalist that is forced to go back home, after some sad news drive her back. We find her in a police station under the close supervision of a doctor, Dr. Shaw, where she is being kept for an undisclosed crime. As things progress we go back and force between Kate’s arrival to her hometown in England, and her conversations with the doctor a week later. In this time we get to really meet Kate. We get a nice and long peek into her mind, all of what she’s gone through while working overseas, especially in Syria, plus what brought her to that point in life where she felt forced to be the saviour, thanks to her poor upbringing. Things take a long time to reveal itself and in most part they don’t until the end of the book, but still here we get to live through someone’s eyes, the after effects of PTSD. Things keep getting darker and Kate’s world keeps crumbling down until the story, comes to an unexpected halt.
The story continues with Sally, Kate’s sister, and a poor woman who suffers from severe alcoholism and here it is that things start to get really juicy. We shortly follow her while she tries to cope with everything that’s been happening in her life. It doesn’t take long for her to gain some kind of mental clarity and try to help Kate, but maybe it was already too late? If the ending of part 1 left you blak, the ending of this one will leave you even more open-mouthed!
[For some more depth continue reading the spoiler section of this review, below the “character” section]
What a family this was. It portrayed a situation that can be found in any normal family, you just never know what goes behind closed doors right?
Abuse is not ok, it never is ok. It doesn’t only have effects on the people that get abused in the now, but those effects will extend to everyone in the surroundings with consequences, sometimes dangerous ones in the future.
First we’ve got Kate, a tricky character to say the least. She is a journalists that specializes in high risk journalism following countries in war zone and because of this and all of the bad things she has seen around she looks at the world with other eyes.
Then we’ve got Sally, Kate’s little sister. She is a less complex character at first sight but as flawed and as damaged as Kate. She is a daughter and sister without family, a mother without a daughter/son and a wife without a marriage. It would be an understatement to say that her life isn’t perfect.
Lastly we’ve got Paul, Sally husband. He not only takes part in Sally’s part but also in Kate’s, as he is the only one Kate has any kind of relationship with. When we meet him he comes as a sweet, respected and responsible man. For his sweetness he is also mistreated, especially by his wife Sally, which also brings to light part of his past.
This three are our main character, although I would say My Sister’s Bones main character had to be Kate. But there are some other key appearances that help bring this story to a halt and make it all sound more believable, giving the most important highlight to the girl’s father, whom I point out to be the creator of all of this mess.
– READ ONLY IF YOU HAVE READ THE BOOK –
Beware, some spoilery bits and pieces:
– To keep you doubting yourself some snippets into our protagonist’s sanity were given but I still felt like it had to do something more with PTSD than actual craziness and I guess I was right. Still it was implied that Kate had some aggressivity problems which I wasn’t that sure about because how could it be possible that the whole family suffered from those? Maybe a sibling can follow a parent’s footsteps but both of them?? Nope.
– Did Kate’s hallucinations get to you as they got to me?? I felt them as real as she did. The introduction of these of course was done in the exact moment as to keep you guessing. In my head the story was going in another direction but I was faithful to Kate’s innocence.
– Note: “This guy Paull is too nice, why dis he taking care of everyone when no one takes care of him?” emphasis on the underlined word, my spidey sense turned on right here.
– In another of my notes, out of the blue, I pointed out by page 219 how I got the sudden feeling of recollection of Paul being like someone from The Girl in The Train. It was just a momentarily sensation I got, I never thought more about it… and look what we got! I just didn’t see this coming, yes a lot of it made sense of his upbringing, but still it was hard to see this coming.
– Another note: “If the husband isn’t there, maybe there’s someone else hurting the neighbour form 44? The landlord perhaps?” Yes, I guess the landlord was hurting someone… Only playing close attention to the details and connecting the dots can you start picturing some kind of final imagine, still nothing like it finally turned out to be…
– When My Sister’s Bones turns into The Girl from The Train and then into Room! I just couldn’t keep up and was surprised every time the story took an unexpected turn.
– How did you feel about part 3 and that last surprise? Because although I liked how things moved along, I didn’t like the feeling I got, as if I was played around. We get to say goodbye to her, mourn her and suddenly she is back? To save the day? At the exact moment she needed to?? Yeah, right… I felt a bit disappointed about this turn of events but still end up liking it, yes.
Would I recommend this one?? Yes. But be prepared for a dark, emotional and very charged read. If you like a character driven book this one is for you. You will get into the psyche of some very disturbing characters.
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I must give a big thank you to the author, Nuala Ellwood, the publisher, Penguin Books, and Netgalley for approving me and giving me this opportunity. This is a completely honest review.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nuala Ellwood moved to London in her twenties to pursue a career as a singer-songwriter, but ended up writing novels instead. She is the daughter of an award-winning journalist. She was inspired by his experiences and those of foreign correspondents such as Marie Colvin and Martha Gellhorn to secure Arts Council funding for her research into PTSD for her debut psychological thriller MY SISTER’S BONES.
You can order it now here:
Amazon SP hardback (9 febrero)
Amazon UK paperback (february 9)
Amazon UK hardback (february 9)
Wordery paperback (february 9)
Wordery hardback (february 9)
Book Depository paperback (february 9)
Book Depository hardback (february 9)
US cover (I think)