I've just finished The Second Sister by Claire Kendal and it was a gripping read. It tells the story of Elle (Melanie), who lost her sister, Miranda mysteriously. The whole novel focuses on her finding the answers of what happened to Miranda and working out who X is.
The term "X" isn't ever used in the book itself. I'm just using it cause I don't want to spoil anything about the culprit.
Thank you to NetGalley for granting me access to The Second Sister. It was a good read with several twists and turns.
NOTE: This book is an adult read, I think or at least a 16+ read. Also there's talk of crime, corruption and abuse as well as a supposed murder in The Second Sister so if you're sensitive to any of that, maybe stay away from this novel.
I read this book for the "Read a book about a totally different character than you" part of the Booktubathon. Ella isn't anything like me in the fact that she's lost her sister as I don't have a sister. She's also more high strung than what I am, I think because of her life experiences.
Elle's mum, dad and Miranda's son feature in the story as side characters throughout. There's also an ex boyfriend of Ella's as well as an enemy or hers that feature. The main story follows Elle wanting to find out what happened to Melanie for herself and her family.
"I need to know. Even if it's the worst thing, I need to"
is how Luke, Ella's nephew, Miranda's son begs his Auntie Ella to find out what happened to his mother. When I read this I thought, would a 10 year old really beg his aunt for answers about his mother, her sister? I'm not sure I would have done at that age but I haven't experienced it so I don't know. This was therefore a little unbelievable to me.
"I stare into Luke's clear blue eyes, which are exactly like yours"
This shows how similar Luke and his mum were. There are other comparisons throughout the novel. This made me keep thinking what Miranda actually looked like. We never see her as a present character in the novel. Just in flash backs and comparisons to other characters but these flashbacks happen periodically so we never forget Miranda.
"It's a confirmation that she no longer matters to them"
Ella tells her dad when she's upset about the lack of evidence the police have uncovered about what happened to Miranda. This is why she feels that she must go looking herself, even if it is against everyone's wishes.
Ella and her mother don't see eye to eye a lot of the time. For example her mother wants Luke to stay with her and her husband, Ella's dad. She doesn't want ella to have anything to do with him.
"You're father and I are going to have to consider whether it's still appropriate for him to visit you"
This is because Ella is taking risks in trying to find out what happened to Miranda. Luke wants her to search for answers but his guardians (Ella's parents) don't. This is believable as they just want to protect him. It's a little mean to totally block Ella out, though.
Another significant point to note is that we don't know who Luke's father is at the beginning. Ella finds out, as do we in the middle of the book but even this is questioned until right at the end.
There's a mystery surrounding who the criminal that hurt Miranda actually is. I don't want to spoil it here, at all because that would take away the surprise element that I enjoyed but X is present for part of the novel. He's pretending to be nice to Ella to get to know her.
"I'm worried about you Ella...as me" is how X worms his way into Ella's affections. This is after Ella goes to interview Miranda's supposed killer. The "..." is there because I didn't want to reveal what was written in the gap as that kind of gives away the supposed killer's identity. We, as the reader are meant to be really doubtful of the evil character or X. We're meant to question everyone that Ella comes into contact with throughout, even her friends. This is why the first person narrative works so well, as we are Ella. We experience everything through her, her bravery, her stupidity, her fear. We see it all in her character's mind's eye.
"You're like your sister" is the contray to what the title of this book means, I think. The title The Second Sister kind of says that Ella isn't as important as Melanie, at least to me. Ella's dad says this and her mum agrees. Ella, herself thinks differently though and knows that her and Miranda weren't as alike as people thought. They looked similar but their characters were completely different.
Also, Ella's dad uses present tense, instead of past meaning that he hasn't completely let go of Miranda yet. Maybe he thinks at about a fifth of the way through the story, where this quote is, that Miranda is still alive? Ella's mum is like this too. I believe "The Second Sister" just means that Ella is more the forgotten sister. Until now, when the novel takes place, she hasn't really had her time to shine.
"You used to call me Snow White" Ella refers to "You" a lot when she remembers and to help her through difficult situations. It's like it's a calming method. "You" is Miranda. Ella feels as if she can talk through any situation with this imaginary sister. She does this a lot in the novel.
There's a creepy section where Ella goes a special hospital to see Thorne, the person locked up for Miranda's disappearance. We're unsure of what to think as the reader, here.
"Wish I had you alone in this bed Ella" Thorne's response after he's been tranquillised for capturing Ella in the mental facility.
"Vomit rushes out of me". This is Ella's reaction to the above statement. This part of the novel wasn't easy to read. I've never experienced anything like what Ella went through but it made me sure that I never want to be put in that position either.
What did I like about The Second Sister?
* I liked the small cast of characters. It was easier to follow the story than it would have been with a large character count.
* I found the story easy to follow. There weren't any events that didn't make sense.
* I liked the use of "You" in the story. Not a lot of characters refer to other characters in just this way. They use the name of the other character, especially if it's a family member like Miranda is to Ella.
What didn't I like about The Second Sister?
* I didn't like that the events were just focused around the crime of who hurt Miranda. I would have liked to have had other threads. I think these would have given the story more life.
* I didn't like that it took so much time for X to be revealed. It would have been better if they had been revealed before the end. Then we could have had more chapters with how the characters were doing after the main events of book.
I enjoyed "The Second Sister". It could have had perhaps more elements to the story to flesh it out a little more but it was an interesting look into something that I'd never experienced. But I did like the use of "You", especially. I thought it worked well in this sort of book. It's not clear straight away who "You" is. That's why I'm giving the book 3 stars.
Does this book sound interesting to you? If it does will you pick it up?
Stand by for my next review, coming soon...