The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon is a crime mystery thriller about a murdered family. It’s a well-written story about friendship, and about sisterhood, and about things that aren’t as they seem. Being devoid of language and explicit content or other mature content, it’s appropriate for young adults. While not really a memorable genre novel, The Night Sister will make for fun escapism.
How is The Night Sister well-written? The plot covers two generations and six characters. Switches in time are indicated at the start of each new section and switches in characters are indicated at the start of each new chapter. In addition, almost from the start, subtle clues are provided as to the identity of the real killer. The six main characters are distinguishable from one another. Rose reveals herself as the jealous one, while her sister Sylvia never ceases to aspire to become an actress. As for three friends, Amy shows herself the daredevil, while Piper acts mature, and Margot is a shadow. There’s also Jason, the boy who loved Amy but married Margot instead and has a baby with her. The setting is partially reminiscent of Hitchcock’s Psycho. There’s a bleak old hotel, where bad things happen. Finally, after beginning with a brutal murder, The Night Sister continued to engage me by showing the friends investigate into the unbelievable crime, revealing the strange situations that led up to the fatal night wherein Amy’s family is killed, and peppering the story with paranormal events.
How it The Night Sister forgettable? Even with the inclusion of the supernatural, the plot is not unexpected. The clues all point to Amy. Naturally then, she isn’t the killer. Clues are uncovered naturally by searches by Piper and Margot into the town’s creepy and decrepit hotel. Clues are also provided suddenly through typed messages. This is all standard fare for the mystery horror genre and about midway through the novel I felt confident of how the murder had occurred. While the characters are three-dimensional, they’re not particularly complex, and there IS a difference in those two concepts. I never felt confused by who any of the characters were, but none of them felt unique either except perhaps Sylvia. She wrote letters to Hitchcock and I enjoyed that correspondence. As for the setting, the presence of a secret room in a hotel isn’t a new idea, although the reason behind it was a rather intriguing and sad one. While The Night Sister kept me turning pages during my initial read, now that I know the twist, I don’t feel a need to reread it.
As an avid reader, I have all kinds of reading needs. Sometimes I want books to make me think or deeply feel. The Night Sister didn’t do either of these. However, there are also times when I simply want to escape my stressful life. The Night Sister gave me an enjoyable weekend read and that’s a fine thing.
This post is a late entry to the Musing Mondays line-up. Check out others by clicking on the below graphic.