2016: The Night Sister (Jennifer McMahon)

The Night Sister Book Cover The Night Sister
Jennifer McMahon
Supernatural Mystery
Doubleday
August 4, 2015
336

The latest novel from New York Times best-selling author Jennifer McMahon is an atmospheric, gripping, and suspenseful tale that probes the bond between sisters and the peril of keeping secrets. Once the thriving attraction of rural Vermont, the Tower Motel now stands in disrepair, alive only in the memories of Amy, Piper, and Piper's kid sister, Margot. The three played there as girls until the day that their games uncovered something dark and twisted in the motel's past, something that ruined their friendship forever. Now adult, Piper and Margot have tried to forget what they found that fateful summer, but their lives are upended when Piper receives a panicked midnight call from Margot, with news of a horrific crime for which Amy stands accused. Suddenly, Margot and Piper are forced to relive the time that they found the suitcase that once belonged to Silvie Slater, the aunt that Amy claimed had run away to Hollywood to live out her dream of becoming Hitchcock's next blonde bombshell leading lady. As Margot and Piper investigate, a cleverly woven plot unfolds--revealing the story of Sylvie and Rose, two other sisters who lived at the motel during its 1950s heyday. Each believed the other to be something truly monstrous, but only one carries the secret that would haunt the generations to come.

This is the second Jennifer McMahon book I’ve read, and my comments on the first still apply to the second: “Interesting concept, mostly okay execution.”

At the heart of this story is the Tower Motel and the family that runs it. Chronologically, the story begins with Sylvie and Rose, the daughters of the Tower’s builder and owner. Sylvie is the darling older daughter, sparkling and talented and prepared to take Hollywood by storm. Rose is the quieter, plainer, younger sister, always in Sylvie’s shadow and content to care for her cow.

Decades later, we meet Amy, Rose’s daughter, and her friends Piper and Margot. Amy is obsessed with the mystery of her aunt Sylvie’s disappearance, and pulls Piper and Margot into the mystery with her.

And then decades past that, we meet Amy, Piper, and Margot as adults. But something terrible has happened at the Tower Motel, and it’s connected to the events of the past.

The three time periods are woven together so pieces of the puzzle are slowly revealed. This part, I enjoyed. I like to get bits and pieces of the story at a time, and try to figure out how everything fits together in the end.

But there’s also a supernatural element here, and that’s the part that I found disappointing. I kinda wish it wasn’t there. It’s not that I dislike supernatural stuff — I have read my fair share — but this particular piece of the supernatural world didn’t appeal to me.  I would have rather it been a mental disorder, a delusion.

But overall, I enjoyed this story, and I like McMahon as an author. I’ll certainly read more of her books.

Other reviews:

  • “The Night Sister was a suspenseful mystery that sinks its teeth into you and keeps the reader guessing. Perfect for fall and one to introduce your book club too.”Caffeinated Book Reviewer
  • “Having said that, goddamn can Jennifer write. Timing. Pacing. Characters. All of it. Spot on and just oozing of substance.”The Novel Blog
  • “There were scary parts, but the mystery of what happened in the past is what really drew me in and kept me reading to the last page.”Girl Lost in a Book

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