Tuesday, 4 August 2015

The Night Sister

Author: Jennifer McMahon
Genre: Suspense
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 319
Source: Random House Canada
Publisher: DoubleDay Canada
First Published: August 4, 2015
First Line: "Amy's heart hammers, and her skin is slick with sweat."

Book Description from GoodReadsOnce the thriving attraction of rural Vermont, the Tower Motel now stands in disrepair, alive only in the memories of Amy, Piper, and Piper's kid sister, Margot. The three played there as girls until the day that their games uncovered something dark and twisted in the motel's past, something that ruined their friendship forever.

Now adult, Piper and Margot have tried to forget what they found that fateful summer, but their lives are upended when Piper receives a panicked midnight call from Margot, with news of a horrific crime for which Amy stands accused. Suddenly, Margot and Piper are forced to relive the time that they found the suitcase that once belonged to Silvie Slater, the aunt that Amy claimed had run away to Hollywood to live out her dream of becoming Hitchcock's next blonde bombshell leading lady. As Margot and Piper investigate, a cleverly woven plot unfolds—revealing the story of Sylvie and Rose, two other sisters who lived at the motel during its 1950s heyday. Each believed the other to be something truly monstrous, but only one carries the secret that would haunt the generations to come.

My Review:  I found The Night Sister to be a wonderfully creepy Gothic read that is filled with familial secrets and a paranormal twist. The cover picture is absolutely stunning, sets the tone and drew me to this book immediately.  McMahon tells her story by flipping back and forth between two generations of people within three different time frames (1995, 1989 and 2013).  At times, especially towards the beginning, I found that it took me awhile to remember which characters were in which generation but as I got to know them better and how they were related to each other it became easier.  The benefits of the shifting points of view and timelines is that it helped to keep up the pace, it gave the reader snippets of information to keep the suspense high and made it a hard book to put down for any length of time.

Once I had the characters firmly set in my mind I enjoyed sitting back and allowing McMahon to unfold her story for me.  She has a knack for maintaining the sinister feel and gradually increasing the tension in her story line.  I also liked how the supernatural aspect wasn't blatantly obvious making me question whether it was real or in the characters' heads.

But it's McMahon's ability to write about the various complicated layers of family turmoil and tragedy that impressed me the most.  As the oldest of three sisters I can attest to the complicated relationship between sisters and often in books they aren't given an authentic feel.  But in The Night Sister the relationships between the two sets of sisters (Sylvie and Rose, Margot and Piper) were both well drawn out, very different from each other but still believable as they all balance between the many emotions surrounding the sometimes complicated sister relationship.

I'm a little embarrassed that this is my first time reading anything by McMahon but after this book you can bet this won't be my last.  This was an atmospheric read with a great edge of your seat creep factor that had me eager to keep reading and nervous at the same time.  There is a good twist at the end and with the engaging and complicated relationships between the characters this was can be labelled as an impressive hard to put down book.  

My Rating: 4/5 stars

Disclaimer:  My sincere thanks to Random House Canada, DoubleDay Books and Jennifer McMahon for providing me with a complimentary hard cover copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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