Title: The Night Sister
Author: Jennifer McMahon
Publisher: Doubleday Books
From the Publisher: 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.
Since this was my first novel by Jennifer McMahon, I really had no idea what to expect when I picked it on Netgalley. It sounded rather intriguing, and I like dark mysteries – especially when ther’s a hint of the supernatural.
And I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading it. There was nothing predictable about this book – and it’s rare that I don’t figure out what’s going to happen at the end quite early on. The Night Sister was written from the various perspectives of several characters, so we never got quite the whole story. Instead, we got snippets from each person’s experience. Looking back, it’s clear to see how the ending was foreshadowed but while reading I was totally wrong (when I wasn’t in the dark). I loved how McMahon seamlessly took us between three different timelines. It would be easy to get confused with that kind of complexity, but I always knew what was happening and when it was happening.
I ended up closing the book (or rather, turning off my iPad) before I went to bed because I was worried about reading about blood and monsters just before falling asleep. That’s silly because it really wasn’t that scary – but it was so suspenseful that I stayed on the edge of my seat. Who killed Amy? What happened to Sylvie? Is Rose really crazy? Are there really ghosts? And what is the 29th room?
Luckily, every single one of my questions was answered in the end. I hate it when books don’t answer all of the questions they raise – but in this case, I got very satisfying closure.
The book I keep thinking of as comparison is Gone Girl – but that’s not quite right. There’s not a twist of that magnitude, and the plot has virtually no similarities… but I can’t shake the comparison. I think it’s because it’s dark, it does involve murder, and there’s a mystery that you’re trying to solve before you get to the end.
I thoroughly enjoyed Night Sister, and you will too if you’re a fan of suspenseful mystery. This may have been my first novel by McMahon, but it certainly won’t be my last.