A terrific debut. 4/5 stars.
The blurb: Grace hasn’t been the same since the death of her best friend Charlie. She is haunted by Charlie’s words, the last time she saw her, and in a bid for answers, opens an old memory box of Charlie’s. It soon becomes clear there was a lot she didn’t know about her best friend.
When Grace starts a campaign to find Charlie’s father, Anna, a girl claiming to be Charlie’s sister steps forward. For Grace, finding Anna is like finding a new family, and soon Anna has made herself very comfortable in Grace and boyfriend Dan’s home.
But something isn’t right. Things disappear, Dan’s acting strangely and Grace is sure that someone is following her. Is it all in Grace’s mind? Or as she gets closer to discovering the truth about both Charlie and Anna, is Grace in terrible danger?
There was nothing she could have done to save Charlie …or was there?
This review will be rather sparse as I think the less you know about the plot of The Sister, the more you’ll enjoy it. And the more I say, the more spoilery things will get, so I’ll keep this brief.
If I hadn’t know this was Louise’s debut novel, I never would have guessed. So the first thing I have to say is, congratulations Louise!
I read The Sister in one, 4-hour sitting and I think that’s probably how it’s best enjoyed. The plot switches between events in the past and present, keeping us in the dark and building suspense while slowly revealing the characters’ secrets. I thought this time jumping was well-handled and it only confused me once (I think because it had been alternating past and present and then there were two consecutive chapters in the “now”). As long as you pay attention to the “Then” and “Now” markers at the start of each chapter you’ll be fine.
My only frustration was with the main character who I dearly wanted to smack hard more than once. I do understand that her gullibility is essential to the plot – if she kicked the person being nasty to her in the bum after the first suspicious thing they did then the story would be over about a third of the way in – but it didn’t stop it being rather frustrating at points.
However, that aside, this is a well-paced story with plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing. There are enough revelations and hints to allow you to make some guesses before the final reveal (and get some of them right!), but enough is held back to guarantee a few final shocks.
Overall: a fantastic debut and I look forward to reading Louise’s next book!
Claire Huston / Art and Soul