My Sister’s Bones – Nuala Ellwood


Welcome to my stop on the My Sister’s Bones blog tour!

About the book

Published: 1st November 2016 (eBook) / 9th February 2017 (Hardback)

A war reporter who can’t trust her own

A deadly secret at the heart of a family.

A killer hiding in plain sight.

Kate Rafter is a high-flying war reporter. She’s the strong one. The one who escaped their father. Her sister Sally didn’t. Instead, she drinks.

But when their mother dies, Kate is forced to return to the old family home. And on her very first night she is woken by a terrifying scream. At first she tells herself it’s just a nightmare, a legacy of her time in Syria.

But then she hears it again. And this time she knows she’s not imagining it…

What secret is lurking in her mother’s garden?
And can Kate get to the truth…before she loses her mind?

My Review

My Sister’s Bones is a beautifully and sensitively written novel about some very difficult subjects, particularly the reality of life in Aleppo, Syria. Kate Rafter is a war reporter and has seen some horrendous atrocities whilst reporting on the war and humanitarian crisis in Aleppo. One particular event plays heavily on her mind and she finds herself taken back to Aleppo in distressing, realistic flashbacks and nightmares.

Kate is begrudgingly back in Herne Bay, Kent following the recent death and funeral of her mother. It is apparent early on that Kate and her sister, Sally, didn’t have the best of childhoods and being back in their family home is unsettling for Kate. Both Kate and Sally had the same traumatic upbringing, suffered the same loss and saw the same abuse however the sisters have reacted in completely different ways. Kate is a career driven, investigative journalist who is at the top of her game and completely focussed on showing the world what is truly happening to civilians and humanitarians in war-torn countries, Kate doesn’t really have any roots or commitments outside of her flat in Soho, London, which she is hardly ever in. Sally, in complete contrast, has sought solace in the bottom of a wine bottle, married to Paul who is at a loss as to how to help his alcoholic wife. Sally is very bitter towards Kate and pushes away any offer of help which has driven a huge gulf between the sisters.

My Sister’s Bones is told in 3 parts, the first part being from Kate’s perspective with alternating chapters from being interviewed in a police station for a yet unknown crime and the events of the week prior to her detention. Part 2 is told from Sally’s perspective, answering some questions from Kate’s narration (My Sister’s Bones is a fantastic example of unreliable narrators!) however Sally’s mental state is also not stable as she is an alcoholic. I’ll let you find out for yourselves what happens in part 3 – no spoilers here!!

There are so many challenging subjects in My Sister’s Bones, mainly focusing on the terrible situation in Aleppo and the debilitating effects of PTSD, but it also touches upon domestic abuse, mental health and alcoholism, all of which were handled sensitively and expertly. This is most definitely a slow burn thriller with the current plot interwoven with the back-story of the sisters, but my gosh does it work tremendously well!! I was completely engrossed, I found myself getting deeper and deeper into the plots and the flashbacks were so haunting and realistic that, at times, I got confused as to what was happening (so god only knows how PTSD suffers must feel!) that I had to go back on occasion and re-read sections. The flashbacks are chilling and my heart goes out to those in Syria and other war-torn countries – this book has really opened my eyes to the reality of these wars.

What is absolutely astounding is that this is Ellwood’s debut novel – all I can say is if this is the starting point, I cannot wait to read more from Ellwood! One of my top reads for 2016 and one I will be recommending to anyone who’ll listen!

About Nuala Ellwood

nuala-ellwood-credit-justine-stoddartNuala Ellwood comes from a family of war reporters, and they inspired her to get Arts Council funding to research and write a novel dealing with psychological trauma in the industry.

My Sister’s Bones is her debut thriller.

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