The Sisters – Claire Douglas

25041402“One lied. One died. When one sister dies, the other must go to desperate lengths to survive. After a tragic accident, still haunted by her twin sister’s death, Abi is making a fresh start in Bath. But when she meets siblings Bea and Ben, she is quickly drawn into their privileged and unsettling circle. As Abi tries to keep up with the demands of her fickle friends, strange things start to happen – precious letters go missing and threatening messages are left in her room. Is this the work of the beautiful and capricious Bea? Or is Abi willing to go to any lengths to get attention?”

On my way to the airport for a brief holiday, I picked up The Sisters for something to read on the plane. Although I usually, and reluctantly, take my Kindle with me on holiday (to combat baggage restrictions), the cover caught my eye and the blurb intrigued. Crime and thriller novels aren’t usually my preferred genre, but something told me that Claire Douglas’ novel would be right up my street.

The story is narrated mainly through Abi, whose life is in tatters after the unexpected death of her beloved twin sister, Lucy. Abi can’t stop thinking about her, and she sees her everywhere. She mistakes a girl on the street – Bea – for Lucy, and approaches her, quickly drawn in to Bea’s Lucy-like manners and likeness. When Bea invites her to a public showing of her jewellery at her house in Bath, Abi can’t refuse. Enchanted with the spacious house, which Bea owns with her twin brother Ben, and rents rooms out to others, Abi quickly accepts when Bea offers her an upcoming room – rent-free. Hoping to put Lucy’s death behind her and move on with her life, Abi moves in, finding romance with the handsome Ben. But there’s something odd about the relationship between the twins, and once Abi starts seeing Ben, Bea starts acting oddly towards her and their close, happy friendship becomes a thing of the past. A chain of increasingly unsettling events make Abi feel like she may not be welcome in the house anymore – but who is the culprit? Is it the work of Bea, one of the other renters, or could it be Abi herself…?

The Sisters is very cleverly written, alternating from two unreliable narrators – Abi, written in first person, and Bea, written in the third person – that you keeps you guessing as you turn the pages. Similar in places to Gone Girl and Before I Go To Sleep, Douglas weaves a menacing undertone throughout the book, subtly and masterfully increasing tension until the explosive denouement. Gripping, insular and well-paced, The Sisters is one of 2015’s must reads.

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