SAMPLER "Little Sister" Isabel Ashdown

Little Sister

If you can't trust your sister, then who can you trust? A gripping, twisty thriller about family secrets and betrayal for fans of CJ Taylor, Katerina Diamond and Lisa Hall

'A missing baby girl, a marriage ravaged by mistrust, a sibling rivalry with a very dark heart: LITTLE SISTER had me gripped from start to finish.' Louise Candlish, author of THE SWIMMING POOL

After sixteen years apart sisters Jessica and Emily are reunited. With the past now behind them, the warmth they once shared quickly returns and before long Jess has moved into Emily's comfortable island home. Life couldn't be better. But when baby Daisy disappears while in Jess's care, the perfect life Emily has so carefully built starts to fall apart.

Was Emily right to trust her sister after everything that happened before?

"Little Sister" will be published on 27th April by Trapeze.

I received the first three chapters from NetGalley for this novel and although I'm delighted to have read the sampler, I am now so disappointed not to have the whole book! I am desperate to read the entire novel and it's going to feel a long wait until April when I'll finally be able to get my hands on it! 

I normally avoid samplers for this very reason but I could not resist this title. I love the front cover and all it implies about the characters, the atmosphere and what might happen. I have seen publicity for "Little Sister" appearing all over social media and seen tantalising reviews from authors. I'm also a bit of a sucker for a story about sisters, having one myself and understanding how emotionally complex the dynamics between siblings can be - and how perfect the uncovering of a family's relationships can be for a psychological thriller.  

There is lots of ambiguity and confusion in the opening as we start Chapter 1 with the narrative of Jess who conveys her state of mind through captivating prose:

"Am I drunk - or dreaming - or dying even? My head feels submerged, as though I'm looking up through water, yet at the same time there's a feeling of clarity that frightens me.....I gasp for air, my memories suddenly, horrifically breaking through the surface awake, aware, remembering." 

We find ourselves in the middle of a crime scene -in the middle of a scene of which has left the main characters in a state of devastation, chaos and distress. We are only privy to Jess's point of view initially and this cleverly places us in the situation of desperately trying to piece together exactly what has happened as Jess appears confused and unsure of what is going on- immediately raising questions about her reliability as a narrator. The response of the detective towards Jess also implies suspicion. 

"Her voice is solid and reassuring, and I feel her eyes drilling right down inside me, as if she's lifted the top off my head and peered in. She's giving me a second chance." 

And then Jess's behaviour and panicked thoughts left me wondering just what had happened and just what was going on. They are convincing for someone suddenly finding themselves in the worst situation they could ever imagine while simultaneously raising endless questions in the reader's mind.

"even when I'm telling the truth, my voice says I'm lying. How am I supposed to behave? how are you meant to arrange your hands on the desk- to focus your gaze - to pitch your tone of voice-  when all the while you know they're on the lookout for tiny signs of nervousness and deceit?" 

We then hear from Emily who offers another point of view about the relationship between the sisters and Jess. 

"After all these years, Jess had faded until she had begun to take on the sepia tones of a distant memory or of a tim watched long ago, the images patchy and incomplete." 

It seems that Ashdown's writing is exactly the kind of writing I love - dark, chilling, descriptive, reflective, compelling prose, full of effective images that create intrigue and tension. I really liked her description of the crime scene:

"They gather like portrait studies: the devastated parents bent over the dining room table, a police officer on either side; the huddle of strangers through the archway, poised to photograph the island worktop, the bloodied kitchen floor......" 

And then the really intriguing sentences about lies which subtly reveals so much more about the character and prepares us for a read that will obviously be totally gripping:

"Little fibs, everyday untruths, the tweaking of facts to help us sail through life more smoothly......Are they lies?" 

The ending of this short sampler left me completely hanging on for more -I was frustratingly pressing my kindle button hoping there were more pages lurking beyond as I was totally hooked and so full of questions about so much....... This is definitely going on my TBR pile for 2017 and I am very excited about reading it when it comes out in April! 

In the meantime, I now need to go and check out Isabel Ashdown's previous novels as I have not read any of her other books and hopefully these will keep me satisfied until April! 

"Little Sister" is out on 27th April 2017 and available for preorder on Amazon.

For more recommendations and reviews please follow me on Twitter @katherinesunde3 (bibliomaniacuk)

Isabel Ashdown

Isabel Ashdown

Dark, compelling and beautifully twisty ... have you read Isabel yet?

Isabel Ashdown was born in London and grew up on the south coast of England. The opening of her debut won the Mail on Sunday Novel Competition, going on to be published as GLASSHOPPER (Myriad, 2009) and being named as one of the best books of the year. Today, she writes full-time, walks daily, and volunteers in a local school for the charity Pets as Therapy. Isabel lives in Sussex with her carpenter husband, their two children and dogs Charlie and Leonard. Isabel is represented by Kate Shaw of the Viney Literary Agency, London.

Her latest novel, LITTLE SISTER is out in ebook April 2017 / paperback July 2017 (Orion/Trapeze).



  1. I tend to avoid samplers too but I'm very grateful that you read this, confirming that this is a book I need to know.


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