the night sister book coverReviewed by Colleen Turner

From page one of The Night Sister an eerie feeling permeates the story, one that makes you think of dangerous things hanging back in the shadows, just waiting to pounce. It opens with one of our protagonists, Piper, being called home by her sister, Margot, after their childhood friend, Amy, is found dead along with her husband and son at what remains of Amy’s childhood home, the Tower Motel her grandfather built. All signs point to Amy as the murderer but neither woman can believe their friend would do that. It’s up to Piper to find out exactly what happened to Amy and her family, especially since the only survivor of the murders, Amy’s daughter Lou, could still be in danger.

Going back and forth in time, between the present, the late 1980’s when Piper, Margot and Amy were childhood friends looking into the mysteries of Amy’s family’s past, and the late 1950s/early 1960s when Amy’s mother Rose and Aunt Sylvie lived at the motel, little snippets of information are revealed that, in the beginning, create more questions than answers but soon begin falling into place revealing a much larger and darker puzzle. The author does a great job of keeping the tension and mystery strong, especially since there are so many story lines running at the same time that all seem somewhat separate at first but wrap up nicely by the end. There is clearly much going on than our characters are initially aware of, and there are a few gruesome and truly terrifying parts that definitely kept me glued to the story. Suffice it to say Piper and Margot are in way over their head and their own lives are put into danger by the time they finally figure out exactly what happened to Amy and what dark secret Amy’s family has been hiding for generations.

My only real issue with The Night Sister was how heavy the paranormal elements were. I knew going in there was the possibility of ghosts or ghouls or scary things but I assumed these scary mysteries from the past would turn out to have more grounded roots in reality. This wasn’t the case and let’s just say fans of “monsters” will be very happy to read this novel. I still very much enjoyed the novel, it just surprised me with this specific paranormal turn it took.

If you’re looking for a scary story about things that go bump in the night you will not be disappointed with The Night Sister. I can honestly say I had a few scaredy-cat moments during this story, and that isn’t something that happens often with me. I definitely plan to read more by Jennifer McMahon, I only hope they aren’t all as heavily immersed in the paranormal as this one.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Colleen lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, son, and their dogs Oliver and Cleopatra. When not working or taking care of her family she has her nose stuck in a book (and, let’s face it, often when she is working or taking care of her family as well). Nothing excites her more than discovering a new author to obsess over or a hidden jewel of a book to worship. You can find more of her reviews on her blog.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Doubleday. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.