Friday, September 09, 2016

“The Sister” by Louise Jensen – A Tragedy of the Past

The Sister by Louise Jensen  - book cover
How much do we really know about the people close to us, the ones we call our best friends and would trust with our lives? If, like most people, you are blessed enough to live a normal life, then chances are you actually do know most of what there is to and your friend isn't hiding some dark skeletons in the closet of their past. Of course, there are a few people whose lives have taken tragic turns and left them with a lot to hide from the rest of the world... a few people like the ones is Louise Jensen's first novel and bestseller, The Sister .

To sum it briefly, we are presented with a young woman in her mid-twenties by the name of Grace whose best friend, Charlie, just died. Going through her friend's things, Grace finds a memory box, one that begins to make her wonder as to how well she knew Charlie. As she begins to look for Charlie's father, Grace ends up connecting with Anna, a woman claiming to be Charlie's sister. Finding Anna feels like a lifesaver for Grace, until very slowly, things start to take a turn for the sinister. At first things start disappearing from the house, then she notices her boyfriend Dan acting in slightly strange ways, and she even starts to have the impression of being followed. Weird accidents start following her around, and the more she unearths from Charlie's past, the more she doubts her own sanity... is she really uncovering something criminal, or is the grief getting to her?

While some may classify The Sister as a thriller, this isn't the kind of book that will hook you in from the very first page and have you swallow chapter after chapter. Rather, Jensen takes a slower and more methodical approach in this novel, carefully building up the tension until the proper breaking point. The author really shows that she knows how to concoct a fascinating story without a whole lot of action, meticulously leading the reader along a mystery that has a lot more depth to it than at first sight. When the tension culminates at the right moment, then Jensen really raises the curtains and takes us on a ride with more twists and turns than a rollercoaster, all coming to an ending with a somewhat surprising conclusion, one that ties things up nicely at the very least.

One of this novel's greatest strengths is the character development, with each and every person being painted with fine strokes and nobody hurriedly labelled as either good or bad. The characters we like and care for, such as Grace and Charlie, end up showing sides that shake our one-sided perception of them, and vice-versa. For instance, while Charlie's mother, Lexie, is a very loathable person who you wouldn't want anything to do with in real life, we still eventually come to pity and understand her for the hard and unfair life she had to endure. In short, Jensen did a fantastic job at creating interesting people that captivate the reader's attention by virtue of their complexity, and sometimes even their mystery.

I will admit that the book does have certain weak points. Namely, some of the answers that were thrown at us feel a bit rushed, and even far-fetched at certain times. More precisely, the resolution of certain smaller plots, such as who was following Grace or the reason for Charlie leaving, feel a bit weak and lacking, especially when compared to how Jensen dealt with the big story. Also, if you are good at figuring things out for yourself in these types of books, then be prepared to get frustrated by a couple of the characters (mostly Grace) and their inability to see what's in front of them on an occasion or two. These are pretty much the only problems the book runs into, and by themselves they are definitely not enough to prevent you from enjoying the book... especially considering it's the author's first publication.

To conclude, The Sister may have a few faults to bear, but on the whole it is a very captivating thriller with a masterful build-up that really draws the reader into its carefully constructed mystery and doesn't let go once things really pick up. It's a fantastic debut for a promising author, one I recommend to anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers.

Louise Jensen

Louise Jensen is a British author who, after shelving her passion for more than twenty years, decided to write a book and ended up publishing a bestseller (and so far her only work), The Sister.

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