MY SISTER by Michelle Adams is an addictive, twisty, shocking debut thriller – an intimate tale of family secrets that will grip readers who devoured Clare Mackintosh’s I LET YOU GO and S.K. Tremayne’s THE ICE TWINS.
My name is Irini. I was given away.
My name is Elle. I was kept.
All her life Irini thought she was given away because her family didn’t want her. What if the truth is something worse?
Two sisters. Two separate lives.
One family bound by a harrowing secret.
Published 20th April by Headline (UK)
Michelle Adams’ debut novel, My Sister, is probably number one contender right now for most creepy, unsettling, and deliciously sinister book of the year. This book got under my skin right from the very first page and kept me hooked from beginning to end.
It starts when Irini gets a late night phone call from her sister Elle to tell her their mother has passed away. Immediately there’s an intriguing tension between the two sisters and it’s clear that this is a family with a lot of skeletons in the cupboard. Irene doesn’t know her parents, having been sent to live with an aunt when she was very small and she wants to know why was she sent away and not her sister. What did she do to make her parents abandon their relationship with her in favour of Elle. So she goes back home for the first time since she was a child hoping for answers. But no-one seems to be able to tell the straight truth, least of all her increasingly erratic sister.
God, this was such an intense read. The relationship between the two sisters was fascinating and I thought Elle in particular was written very well. She was terrifying, clearly damaged and dangerous, yet also compelling and addictive. I could see why Irene both idolised and feared her. As far as characters go, she’s one of the most chilling and intriguing I’ve come across in a while. In contrast, Irini is delicate, easily manipulated and at times weak. I found her frustrating now and then, wishing she’d get a back bone and stop skirting around issues with her family. Some of decisions she makes seem a little foolish and contrived, considering what she knows about her sister. Other times I felt only sorry for her, as it seems everyone around her manipulates and mistreats her.
Despite being very much a modern story, set firmly in the present day, there’s a feel of the gothic novel to this story. The huge, eerie house, the pained and silent father and the devoted staff who help to keep the hideous secrets of the family firmly kept all serve to create a wonderful atmosphere of sinister suspense. I wanted to know as much as Irini did why she’d been sent away, what had caused Elle to be so disturbed and what the secrets of this toxic relationship were. There’s some real shocking moments which had me on the edge of my seat, and a very clever twist at the end which I would never have guessed in a million years.
My Sister is a gripping story, and Michelle Adams’ writing is filled with tension and atmosphere, meaning that I devoured this book in two sittings. It’s pretty twisted at times and probably not for the fainthearted, but I loved this sinister and chilling book and I’d happily recommend it to anyone who loves a story of tangled, twisted and toxic relationships and sinister settings.
(I read an advance ebook edition courtesy of the publisher and netgalley)