Book Review: My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood

My Sister's Bones - Nualla Ellwood

I’ve had my eye on My Sister’s Bones ever since it was released in hardback, but due to my crazy TBR, I never got around to reading it. It was published in paperback on 7th September and I’m happy to report, I finally got around to reading it.

From the back cover:

If you can’t trust your sister, then who can you trust?

Kate Rafter has spent her life running from her past. But when her mother dies, she’s forced to return to Herne Bay – a place her sister Sally never managed to leave.

But something isn’t right in the old family home. On her first night Kate is woken by terrifying screams. And then she sees a shadowy figure in the garden…

Who is crying for help?
What does it have to do with Kate’s past?
And why does no one – not even her sister – believe her?

My Thoughts:

What a dark and disturbing debut novel from Ellwood! I love that the blurb doesn’t give much away all, it gives no indication of just how dark this novel is, had I known, I might have reconsidered started it at midnight!

Part one is narrated by Kate and this, for me, was the darkest part of the novel, and the part that had me most unsettled. Kate is a war correspondent – a journalist who covers stories first-hand from war zones; as result of this, she is suffering from PTSD; through the use of Kate’s mental state, Ellwood makes her an unreliable narrator. As the reader, we just don’t know what to believe, we’re unsure what’s real and what’s not. This element of the novel may be a trigger from some people, as Kate details her experiences in war-torn Syria and these make distressing reading. Kate is clearly traumatised by what she experienced, as you can imagine she would be, when you couple that with the  hallucinations she is having, it makes for extremely unsettling and distressing reading. Ellwood writes in such a way that Kate’s terror feels very raw and very real.

Part two is narrated by Kate’s sister, Sally, and the unreliable narration continues. This layer upon layer of unreliable narration makes it damn near impossible to guess the direction this plot is going. I saw none of the twists coming and I was hooked to this plot. The beginning of the novel is quite slow paced, in the sense that we get a very detailed account of all that Kate has experienced, this is, perhaps, why it’s so disturbing. However, when we get to part two, events seem to move at a much faster pace, therefore not allowing the reader to get to know, or like, Sally as much as Kate.

The change of pace was interesting but I felt the latter half of the book lacked the distressing quality that was present throughout part one. It felt a little rushed, and I missed the slow-burner feel of part one – that level of unsettlement that you feel deep in your bones – that made me wish I started this novel when it was light outside. The main twist itself was a little bizarre in the sense that it was so far from what I was expecting, this was a truly unique read and I felt the ending made it a little too ‘commercial’ – something that made this book a bit too similar to other psychological thrillers and kind of took away from the exceptional and unique story told in part one.

Overall, this novel is extremely dark and the content at times is distressing – going into this read, I had no idea just how much this novel, particularly part one, would play on my nerves, and make me feel so tense and unsettled. The Observer states this book ‘rivals The Girl on the Train’, but I don’t think there’s any competition here, I think My Sister’s Bones is so much better! I was totally engrossed in this plot, invested in Kate’s plight, disturbed and chilled – if you like your psychological thriller’s dark then I highly recommend My Sister’s Bones.

This book is available to buy from: Amazon UK / Book Depository

*My thanks to Viking Books/Penguin Random House for providing me with a copy of this book*

16 thoughts on “Book Review: My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood

  1. I’ve stopped counting my TBR, but my spreadsheet does it for me, haha, and I’m scared! Dark, disturbing and without all the info in the blurb, I am totally okay with this! I really like your review, I can tell there are very interesting and original things and others… made to fit the genre and please the mass!

    Liked by 1 person

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