Today it is my pleasure to be taking part in the blog blitz for The Good Sister, the new thriller from Jess Ryder. Thanks to Kim Nash of Bookouture for inviting me to take part. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the book with you in a moment, just as soon as I’ve told you what it’s all about.
The Official Book Blurb
Two sisters. One secret… A lie that could destroy them both.
When her father dies, Josie is devastated to uncover he led a secret life: another house, another family and a half-sister called Valentina.
Both with red hair and icy blue eyes, Josie and Valentina could be mistaken for twins. But the similarities end there…
Josie – Sweet, reserved, jealous, thief.
Valentina – Care-free, confident, dangerous, liar.
There is a perfect life here for the taking. But which one of them wants it the most?
Two sisters. One survivor.
My, oh my, oh my. I was not expecting this book at all. From the very start you get a feeling of the mystery which surrounds Jerry Macauliffe. He is receiving ominous, almost threatening text messages but it is not clear who from. And it is trying to escape from this constant stream of messages which sets in motion a chain of events that will change his family’s life forever. Travelling to the home he used for work to clear out Jerry’s belongings, and coming face to face with a sister she never knew existed, his daughter, Josie Macauliffe, is faced with an impossible decision. To confess her father’s infidelity to her mother, or keep new sister Valentina and Jerry’s other life a secret. Whichever her choice, she is bound to lose, but the question is, by how much?
Starting each chapter with a short piece on Viking Legend, author Jess Ryder had me immediately intrigued. Jerry Macauliffe was proud of his Viking heritage, something he instilled in both of his daughters, his Viking warriors, and some of the facts which are imparted upon us do inform the story, but you will not know how and by how much until the end of the book. The clues are all there if you wish to anticipate the ending, but the joy of reading this story is in letting everything gradually unfold in front of you, for this is a very twisted tale where nobody is quite who they appear to be.
I love the way in which Josie and Valentina, although very alike in looks, could not be more different in terms of character. Josie is giving and caring, and far too trusting. Valentina is an altogether darker character and it is always clear that her motives for seeking to build a relationship with her sister are less than pure. Jess Ryder takes her time in revealing these motives to us as readers, which made me uncertain just how far to trust Valentina. You were never quite sure of whether some of what she was thinking was memory or just some kind of psychosis or mania. She was one of those kinds of characters, charming and yet manipulative. But was that due to nature, nurture, or something far worse? All I knew for sure was that she was not being entirely honest with anyone and she revelled in the deception.
And that is part of the beauty of this book as it is essentially a tale centred around secrets. Not just the secrets Josie keeps from her mother, or that Valentina keeps from Josie, but also those which are deeper rooted in their respective family’s histories. It kept me as a reader hyper alert, waiting for the next revelation. There is a gradually building tension throughout, and you are permanently poised, ready for Valentina to do something and yet still taken unawares by her actions. The chapters are short and well paced, and as they alternate between the two girls points of view, it takes time at first to work out which one of the two sisters you are with.
There are subtle differences between the two in their ‘voice’, as well as the differences in their circumstances, which make it clear at first. But not telling the reader at the start of each chapter which sister is which, is a very clever plot device used by the author. It means that as you read on, as they start to become closer and their lives start to align more and more, certain things occur where you are never quite sure whether it is Valentina or Josie who is talking. You think you know but you are kept just the wrong side of being absolutely certain. And as for the ending … Well it makes both a metaphorical and literal splash, that’s for sure.
I was thoroughly engaged by this book, invested in the fates of both Josie and Valentina, and desperate to know how much of what I was being fed was true and how much make believe. To find that out you are going to have to read the book for yourself.
My thanks to publishers Bookouture for the advance copy for review. The Good Sister was released on 16th August and is available from the following links.
About the Author
Jess Ryder is the pseudonym of Jan Page, author, screenwriter, playwright and award-winning television producer. After many years working in children’s media, she has recently embarked on a life of crime. Writing, that is. Her other big love is making pots
Do try and stop by some of the other brilliant blogs taking part in the three-day blitz.