Sent to me by Headline in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 20/04/17
Format: Paperback, 384pp
Genre: Psychological Drama
Summed up in a word:
First Impressions: I had no preconceived notions when starting this book. The blurb gives nothing away. My Sister is nothing like anything else I have ever read. I know that sounds cliche but it is true. There were times when I wanted to stop reading the book altogether because the depth of some of the themes twisted my stomach. I kept waiting for Irini to see sense and run, but her fragile psyche keeps caving in to her unstable, manipulative older sister… By the end I understood why Michelle Adams has crafted their relationship the way she did and it really pays off. Thank you to Millie Seaward for my review copy.
Book Synopsis: 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.
(Official Headline Synopsis)
My Review – Irini doesn’t know anything about her past. Not knowing was a gift from her parents. Her older sister Elle has other plans. My Sister is an unbelievably tense, perfectly orchestrated piece of psychological drama fiction bordering on horror.
Elle and Irini. Sisters by blood but raised in vastly different households. Irini was shipped off to her aunt’s at the age of 3 for no clear reason. She was never given an explanation why Elle was kept and she had to go at such a young age. Forever labelled as the unwanted child and set to live a life of rejection and insecurity. The only consistency for Irini was Elle, who was constantly showing up throughout her youth to cause chaos. After several events caused Irini to drift apart from Elle later on in their lives, the relationship changed and Elle became hostile and obsessed. Irini eventually had to start running from Elle, wanting to move on from all that destruction and heartache.
My Sister starts with a phone call, Elle has managed to get in contact with Irini to tell her that their mother has passed away and the funeral is being held at the family estate. Hoping to find some closure on why her mother gave her away, Irini agrees to attend. As soon she sets foot on the grounds of the family home, Irini knows she should not have come. But Elle is not going to let her leave, not until she gets the truth of why her parents sent Irini away and not her. Was it because they loved Elle more? Or could it be because Irini was not safe in that house with Elle?
As I said before, I found My Sister quite hard to stomach at times. Elle is so intense that it becomes unbearable to begin with. Adams’ writing is tense, frustrated and full of pain and regret. The whole novel is character driven and the sister’s feed off of each other. Irini needs Elle’s obsession and Elle needs Irini’s acceptance. Their dynamic is unsettling and bone-chilling at times. It is exceptional writing, but it didn’t really suit me as a reader (I am a bit of a wimp). Elle is a force of nature and she is clearly psychotic from the very beginning. But finding out just how amazingly conniving, violent and manipulative she can be takes a little time.
Irini is a good main character. She is complex, multi-dimensional and though she despises her sister, she understands Elle. I was amazed how blasé Irini was when Elle was obviously doing things to ruin her life, in front of her face. Elle is definitely the show stopper of this novel. Everyone who has ever known her is scared of what she is capable of. Her actions are menacing in every sense of the word.
We get insights into the sister’s hidden relationship as they grew up and they were some of most twisted events of the whole book. The depth of their connection and how far the relationship stretches is remarkable. The element that kept me coming back for more was the not-knowing. I had to find out what happened all those years ago. I needed closure myself. I only really realised how elaborate and genius the ending was when I explained it out-loud to my wife.
When I said this book doesn’t suit me, I felt that the constant despair and pain of individuals was just a fraction too unsettling for me. That said, Michelle Adams is an accomplished writer and most definitely one to watch in the coming years. My Sister is her debut novel, I can’t wait to see what she has planned next. Overall I have given this book 4/5 stars because it was unique, chilling and the writing was exceptional. It did unsettle me to the point that I wanted to put the book down, but that just means that Michelle Adams has done her job rather well.
About Michelle Adams: Michelle Adams grew up in the UK and now lives in Cyprus, where she works as a part-time scientist. She read her first Stephen King novel at the tender age of nine, and has been addicted to suspense fiction ever since. MY SISTER is her first novel. (Photo from Twitter)