Title: The Sister
Author: Louise Jensen
Release Date: July 2016
My Rating: 8/10 Solid
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?
First of all, thanks to Bookoture and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I’d seen this book floating around the blogosphere for a few weeks, and thought it look like just my sort of thing. At a little under 300 pages, it looked like the quick and easy read I needed after spending so much time on I am the Messenger. I’m not sure whether it was just me, or whether it was because I was so distracted by the Olympics, that I actually spent almost 2 weeks reading it. It started off slow and I wasn’t too sure I was enjoying it, but the pace soon picked up and I read almost 60% in the last two days (partly because the Olympics had finished!).
This is the most twisty book I’ve read in a while. The narrative is split into ‘Then’ and ‘Now’, with the ‘Now’ sections hinting at things that happened in the past, leaving us desperate to find out more. I really liked the way information was trickled out in tiny doses, keeping the pages turning and the story gripping throughout.
The characters were all pretty good, although Grace was so irritatingly naive at times that I wanted to slap her. This did help to show her vulnerability and how her grief is still affecting her though, so it worked well. I liked the village aspect of the setting, and the inclusion of minor characters such as Mrs Jones and Lyn, along with Grace’s grandparents. I did however, think the inclusion of her mother fell a little flat (minor spoilers). She was gone and then she came back and everything was fine. I felt there could have been more tension between Grace and her mother; she was forgiven too easily.
The story itself is what makes this book. The writing however let it down slightly. I felt as if the author had attended a class on ‘How to Write a Book’ and followed it to the letter. It lacked individuality and flare. I feel a bit mean saying that; I’m not a school teacher and I don’t want to red pen anything! The descriptions were often a little far fetched, and perhaps slightly journalistic in style. We see stuff like ‘I take a sip of coffee. The frothy liquid warms me.’ That isn’t a quote from the book, I’ve just made it up, but you get the idea. It did get better, or perhaps I just stopped noticing it because the story was so good, as I got towards the later half of the book.
I also think the ending was quite abrupt. It was a short book anyway, and could easily have been stretched out another 50 pages. The ending few chapters in particular could have been longer. I was a little surprised when I turned the page and it was suddenly the epilogue.
Overall though, I really enjoyed this book. Had I not been distracted by other things, I could have easily finished it in three or four days, maybe even in a weekend. It does take the first 100 pages to really get into it, but after that it’s great.
I’ve given it an 8/10, although it’s probably more like 7.5/10. I did have a few issues with it, particularly with the writing, but I did really enjoy it and would highly recommend to anyone who loves thrillers. I look forward to reading more of Louise Jensen in the future.