The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon

Source: Doubleday Books
Length: 336 pages
Publication Date: August 4, 2015

It was a dark and stormy night…

It’s not, and it wasn’t when I read Jennifer McMahon’s latest novel The Night Sister, but the book was so darkly atmospheric that it made me feel like it was. Or wish it was. Sort of the same thing? I digress.

Although slightly convoluted at times (much like this review aims to be), The Night Sister tells the story of the Slater family and Amy Slater’s complicated friendship with sisters Piper and Margot. Moving from the ’50s to the ’80s to the present, the novel has all hallmarks of a good horror novel without actually being a horror novel. Dilapidated, abandoned motel? Check. Hidden room? Check. Mysterious disappearance? Check. Gruesome, unexplainable murder? Check. Yet the story never really ventures into genre horror. This is a good thing.

McMahon weaves a complicated plot that blends the best parts of an atmospheric mystery and  a suspense novel. My enjoyment wavered a bit as she introduced elements of magical realism, but never enough to make me quit reading. I did not enjoy The Night Sister as much as I enjoyed The Winter People, but I would recommend both – as in if you liked the latter, you’ll enjoy the former as well. If you’re able to suspend your disbelief better than I am, you may enjoy it. As always, opinions differ, check out this rave review on Jenn’s Bookshelves.

Night SisterPair this one with a classic pepperoni pizza (as found on Life Made Simple), which is one of the few requests made by Amy’s daughter Lou, after her mother’s death.

Lately I’ve been feeling ambivalent towards food pairings. Anyone have any strong thoughts one way or another? On one hand, it keep me interested in finding new recipes, on the other…more work is more work.

Oh, and please share any thoughts you had about the book too. (This reads as sarcasm, right? Because it should.) My thought: I hate pepperoni on pizza. Even when you pick it off, it leaves such a strong aftertaste that there is no getting around it. Any toppings you hate on a pizza? Because pineapple is a popular one to make fun of, but I love it.

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