Two sisters, brought up by an alcoholic father and an abused Mother, hardly surprising one of them should turn to drink, Sally the younger one, the one who appeased her fathers’ drunken rages, has become alienated from her daughter and is pushing her husband Paul away and drowning her sorrows in a wine bottle and a haze of blurred reality.
Not so her sister Kate, clever Kate, successful Kate, she has a successful career as a war correspondent writing for a leading National newspaper. She is resilient and she has escaped her past – or has she?
Following the death of their Mother, Kate has to come back home, to the small seaside town of her upbringing where she is forced to confront a family tragedy which shaped all their lives and still haunts her. Kate is haunted not only by her distant past but by more recent events in war torn Syria where death surrounded her.
When she is awakened night after night by childrens’ cries, she’s sure what she hears is real, but her grasp on reality is slipping could she be plagued by nightmares or is it all caused by PTSD aftermath of the traumas of war? One thing is for sure – we have an unreliable narrator, the book begins with a death – but whose and how?
We are treated to a series of interviews between Kate and a Psychotherapist to whom she is speaking reluctantly. Reeling from a broken relationship, numbed by bereavement and confused by recent events, as we watch her life spiral out of control it’s hard to know what is fact, what is imagined and what are fractured memories of past events.
Terrifically well written it deals with many dark subjects, in fact there’s not much lightness anywhere in the story, it in turn horrified and shook me to the core, yet enthralled me and I could not stop reading, so desperate was I to know what happens. Is there a little boy who needs help? What is the mystery surrounding the woman next door? Is Kate going crazy or are more sinister forces at play? Just who can be trusted - can anyone?
By the time the harrowing and unforeseen (for me) conclusion arrived I was wrung out emotionally and shaken to the core. This is one emotional roller coaster written with great panache and plenty of cunning revelations to make the reader shudder.
In places this reminded me of “Who are you” by Elizabeth Forbes, both dealing with different aspects of post war zone traumatic stress.
My thanks go to Annie Hollands at Penguin Random House for sending me an advance copy to review.
The paperback is to be released in January 2016 but you don’t have to wait until then to read it as you can obtain an advance ebook copy for your kindle right now.
The Blurb (from Goodreads)
Kate Rafter is a high-flying war reporter. She's the strong one. The one who escaped their father. Her younger sister Sally didn't. Instead, she drinks.
But when their mother dies, Kate is forced to return home. And on her first night she is woken by a terrifying scream.
At first Kate tells herself it's just a nightmare. But then she hears it again. And this time she knows she's not imagining it.
What secret is lurking in the old family home?
And is she strong enough to uncover it...and make it out alive?
'A gripping rollercoaster ride of a thriller. Intense and harrowing, with a quite unstoppable, thrilling momentum that keeps you in there right to the last page' Christobel Kent, author of The Loving Husband
'A dark, intense, multi-layered thriller that twists and turns until the last page' Tammy Cohen
'A stunning book. I was drawn in by Nuala Ellwood's hypnotic, haunting and elegant prose. Compelling, unsettling and powerful this is a book that will stay with me for a long time.' C. L. Taylor
'With an elegant and deft touch Nuala Ellwood has created a tale that is gripping, engrossing and surprising at every turn. I loved it' Rowan Coleman
'An accomplished and page-turning thriller. It twists and turns in so many directions it's impossible to guess where it's going next' Nicholas Searle, author of The Good Liar
'Loved I Let You Go and Behind Closed Doors? My Sister's Bones is guaranteed to be this year's most twisty and twisted read - you'll never see what's coming!' Ava Marsh, author of Untouchable
'Ellwood's protagonist Kate is a female hero in the best sense, flawed but brave. Very quickly you are sucked into her fragile, damaged world, and no longer know what is real or imaginary' Helen Callaghan, author of Dear Amy
'Gripping and beautifully written, My Sister's Bones is a tense, atmospheric, deliciously dark story' Amanda Jennings, author of In Her Wake