Review – My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood

My Sister's Bones

The Blurb

Kate Rafter is a high-flying war reporter.  She’s the strong one.  The one who escaped their father.  Her younger sister Sally didn’t.  Instead, she drinks.

But when their mother dies, Kate is forced to return home.  And on her first night she is woken by a terrifying scream

At first Kate tells herself it’s just a nightmare.  But then she hears it again.  And this time she knows she’s not imagining it.

What secret is lurking in the old family home?  And is she strong enough to uncover it…and make it out alive?

My Review

It’s not often I read a book that takes me totally by surprise but My Sister’s Bones is one of those books. It was not what I was expecting at all. I was expecting your usual psychological thriller, however, this book is anything but.

The book starts with an intriguing prologue and a killer first chapter that immediately draws you in, raising numerous questions, leaving you thirsty for more. What follows is a dark, all absorbing story that covers some pretty heavy issues. Childhood trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, grief and alcoholism are some of the themes within the book. Clearly carefully well researched, Nuala approaches these issues with an understanding and portrays them wonderfully in her writing clearly getting across the impact of each.

The novel is spilt into three parts, narrated in the first person by main character Kate and later her sister Sally. This works effectively in giving the reader an insight into each character’s perspective of their current lives and their past. Returning to her home town for the first time in years following her mother’s death, Kate, a war journalist, is forced to re-visit her past and the traumatic events she has faced.

We first meet Kate when she is in the police station being assessed by a mental health worker trying to establish if she requires being sectioned under the Mental Health Act. Nuala has written this perfectly getting across Kate’s perspective of the assessment and her attempts at self-preservation. The book has an eerie feel to it as Kate begins to see a small boy in the garden of her mother’s home. It is clear quite early on in My Sister’s Bones that Kate is suffering from PTSD following the atrocities she has seen in Aleppo. Added to the fact that the second voice in the novel, that of her sister Sally who is an alcoholic. I did wonder if this was a case of unreliable narrators. I truly had no idea at all what direction this book would take and couldn’t begin to guess what the outcome would be.

This is also a story about the relationships between sisters and the different ways they experience their childhood, how this impacts on their lives, shapes the adults they become and how they cope with life events in the future.

A gradual unravelling of the truth and a multi-layered plot makes for compulsive reading and this is a very accomplished debut novel. Surprising, emotionally charged and dark, My Sister’s Bones is a fantastic psychological thriller that needs to be added to your TBR list.

Thanks to Nuala Ellwood and Penguin Books for the advance copy.

Published in Ebook by Penguin on 1 November 2016 you can purchase a copy HERE.

Published in hardback on 9 February 2017.

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