Book Review: The Night Sister

The Night Sister: A Novel - Jennifer McMahon

Book: The Night Sister


Author: Jennifer McMahon


Genre: Fiction/Thriller/Horror/Mystery


Summary: In the 1950s, the Tower Motel - with its namesake tower - was the shining attraction of tiny London, Vermont. Now it stands in disrepair, alive only in the memories of three women - Amy, Piper, and Piper's sister Margot. They played there as girls until the day that their games uncovered something dark and sinister in Amy's family past, something that ruined Piper and Margot's friendship with Amy forever. As adults, Piper and Margot have done everything they can to move on; Piper lives in California, while Margot has devoted herself to studying local history and starting a family. Until, one day, Piper receives a panicked call from Margot: Amy and her family are dead, supposedly killed by Amy's own hand. And before she died, Amy scrawled a message that the two sisters know was meant for them: "29 Rooms." Suddenly, Margot and Piper are forced to revisit that fateful summer when they found a packed suitcase and haunting letters that once belonged to Sylvie Slater. Amy always claimed that her aunt had run away to Hollywood to live out her dream of becoming Hitchcock's next blond bombshell of a leading lady, but the truth is much more complicated. As they investigate, a new story unfolds, one of Sylvie and Rose, two sisters who lived at the motel during its heyday . . . and one sister who carries a secret that will haunt the generations to come. -Doubleday, 2015.


I have to be honest: I learned a new lesson. That lesson is to read the review blurbs on the back of the hardcover. It will save you the embarrassment of misunderstanding the genre of a novel. See, this is my first novel by McMahon and I didn't know that this is her typical style. I went into this novel thinking it was just a psychological thriller. I couldn't have been more wrong. McMahon does use elements of horror and if I had known that, I wouldn't have been so judgmental. That being said, let's get into the review.


This was a fantastic read. In spite of the mix-up regarding genre, I did enjoy the story. Would it have been better as a psychological thriller? I think so, personally, but the horror element is well done.


After solving a mystery at the motel Amy lives in, Piper and Margot are forever estranged from their friend. Once Amy dies suddenly, however, Piper must put together the pieces that were left behind and finds more than what she had bargained for.


The story is told in several POVs, however, each chapter is marked with the name of the person the chapter is focused on. There are also a lot of time skips around the course of the novel. These skips are marked clearly as well, so following each story line isn't difficult. The story itself is good and it's written in a way that makes you want to keep reading to find out what happens next. As I've found in other stories that are written in this style, the modern piece is not as developed as the pieces that take place in the past.


The characters are interesting, but they don't make too huge of an impact, even with the twist of horror involved. The only complaint I have is that the horror piece could have been developed more - there isn't a really good explanation on the history of the twist, nor how it fits modern day life. Otherwise, the story is decent enough. It's a good plot and I had fun reading it.


I give The Night Sister a B+.




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