Monday, 12 June 2017

Book Review: The Second Sister - Claire Kendal

The Second SisterThe Second Sister by Claire Kendal
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Claire Kendal’s first book, The Book of You, was a top read for me a couple of years ago, so I was very excited to read the author’s next novel, The Second Sister.

The story involves Ella, whose sister, Miranda, went missing ten years previously. Miranda’s son Luke is ten years old now and asking difficult questions. Ella is also 30, the age her sister was when she mysteriously disappeared, bringing up all kinds of new emotions, fears and her own unanswered questions. As Ella digs deeper, fresh information arises through renewed press interest and a new suspect is in the frame, a sadistic killer, Thorne. Ella, however, can’t bring herself to believe he’s involved, as this would mean her sister is dead. Until now, there has always been the thread of hope that she is still out there, somewhere.

The immediacy of the narrative swept me up straight away, partly through the use of second-person narrative – this time, the author employed a nice twist in using it to refer to someone dear, the lost beloved sister, rather than the antagonist, as in the first novel. From the opening pages there was a gentle, delicate and fragile quality to Kendal’s narration that made me want to turn the pages ‘oh so tenderly.’ The writing seemed to capture the details ‘behind and between’ the aspects we normally notice about people – so sensitive and satisfying, as a result.

The revered older sister, Miranda, is ever-present in the pages, as Ella 'hears' the internalised memories of her short punchy comments, as if she’s standing right beside her. There are also clever single line flashbacks to help the reader gain context and see how things stood in the past. I particularly admired the artful blend of literary fiction (which led me to savour the writing) and psychological thriller (which compelled me to turn the pages!). The author manages to find the tipping point between the two, perfectly!

As the story progresses, there is a steady unfolding of clues and details which lead Ella onwards in her quest for the truth. She has to confront certain key figures and puts herself at risk to dig deeper. The outcome is shattering and the harrowing scenes towards the end took my breath away. So much is good about this book – and just like The Book of You, it will stay with me for a long time. Highly recommended.

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AJ Waines is an International Bestselling Author of Psychological Thrillers 


  •  Over 400,000 books sold worldwide
  • Girl on a Train  a Number One Bestseller on Kindle in UK and Australia (2015 & 2016) 
  • Awarded Kindle KDP Top 10 'most-read Author' in UK 2016 & 2017
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