"The Sisters" Claire Douglas
Abi has moved to Bath to try and come to terms with the death of her twin sister Lucy. She is alone in a new city and grieving despite her attempts to try and make a fresh start. Very quickly, through what appears coincidence, she becomes friends with Bea, a vivacious character who bears a strong resemblance to her dead sister Lucy. Bea shares a luxurious 5 storey house with her twin brother Ben and Abi, flattered to be noticed by someone so glamorous as Bea, moves in with them, becoming part of their artistic, albeit offhand and transient, group of lodgers and friends.
But as her feelings for Ben deepen into something more than friendship, Bea appears to be jealous of Abi. And then odd things start to happen. All too late Abi realises that the friendships in the house can actually quickly become full of distrust, jealousy and suspicion. Suddenly Abi feels threatened, her precious things go missing and she is left cruel messages. Is it Bea? Or is it Abi? Both girls want to protect Ben from the other, but why? Who is telling the truth? Who can you trust?
This book is compulsive. I was pleased I read it on holiday as it was the ideal book to have stashed in my suitcase for a binge read! Although I think it would have been a one sitting read anyway, it was so thrilling and so full of cliff hangers! It is a great set up - two sets of grieving twins, buried secrets, delusions, obsessions, possessiveness and a group of friends who are all confused about the boundaries and rules - it can only but hurtle towards an explosive conclusion.
The plot races along. Told in alternate points of view between Abi and Bea, Douglas cleverly creates two intriguing characters. Initially we bond with Abi more and empathise with her fragility, vulnerability, pain and sense of isolation. Bea comes across as jealous, controlling and possessive. But as we hear a little more from Bea, it is clear that things are not so clear cut. I spent most of the novel trying to work out who to believe, who was capable of what, who I sympathised with and who I believed. And Douglas kept me guessing this until the very end.
The plot is tight and well constructed. Douglas keeps the reader on their toes with a number of unseen twists and turns that weave a complex web of secrets and lies. She further complicates this by the characters all suffering from a certain amount of delusions, so not only does the reader not know who is telling the truth, we are also unsure of who has lost their grip on reality. It's a thoroughly gripping read.
The ending was astounding. It made me want to start right back at the beginning and read it all over again. I felt like someone had grabbed the pillow out from behind my head and turned the air conditioning up to full blast. Goosebumps. Shivers. Brilliant!
I read Claire Douglas "Local Girl Missing" a few weeks ago and was blown away by it so I knew I had to get hold of everything else she had written. "The Sisters" is Douglas's debut novel and for me, I think that "Local Girl Missing", her second novel, is a smidge better. Not that there's much in it, and not that any of these really read as books written at the beginning of a novelist career. I can't wait for more from Douglas as she continues to develop and hone her great skill for telling a captivating psychological thriller. She's definitely in my top ten for "grip lit"!
I would rate "The Sisters" a 4/5 star read and "Local Girl Missing" is a 5/5 star read.
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