Book Review: My Sister, the Serial Killer

I was looking forward to reading this after constantly eyeing it up on the shelves back when the bookshops were still open. The physical cover itself is striking but so is the title itself. What could be more ominous than knowing your sister is a serial killer?

Synopsis from Goodreads

My Sister, the Serial Killer is a blackly comic novel about how blood is thicker – and more difficult to get out of the carpet – than water…

When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distressed call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…

Image: Amazon

Review ~ ★★★.5/★★★★★ 

Genres: Novel, satire, thriller, crime-fiction

This book caught my attention right from the offset. Even before starting to read it the premise seemed odd and strangely appealing.

The protagonist, Korede is fully aware of her sister, Ayoola’s tendencies to murder boyfriends. One night she’s called up and has to help dispose the body of her latest victim. The way she accepts it as part of daily life, is both comical and alluring. It makes you want to read the book to find out how Korede comes to terms with this herself and how it has become so normalised between them. No one else in the family knows about these events. Throughout the novel Korede becomes more worried about her sister and the potential next victim. The horrific events of Ayoola’s actions are told in such a matter of fact, down to earth way that I have never encountered before. I guess it’s meant to be a kind of dark humor, it definitely gets points for originality – I’ve never read a book like it and was taken aback (in a good way) by its approach.

The crime genre scene is usually dominated by British and American parameters, so it was refreshing to see an entirely different setting. The novel is set in Lagos, the capital of Nigeria, and is deeply embedded within its culture. Both sisters have also had a troubled upbringing, due to abuse from their father, however, this isn’t really explored until the final pages. I liked the main two characters but felt the novel doesn’t give you the chance to get to know them.

The chapters themselves are short and snappy and this gives a level of pace to the book which I really liked. Although it is a short book anyway, I ended up flying through the chapters. I liked the way it seemed to mirror the nature of Ayoola’s personality and the flip decisions she seemed to make.

The initial grab for this book is definitely there – it has an intriguing and original feel, which offers the potential for a truly gripping story, however, I found my attention dwindling about three quarters of the way through. I no longer felt the compulsion to read on, in the way I had done in the beginning.

Being a short novel it is naturally restricted by the amount of depth it can convey, but in this case, I think extending the novel would have turned it into something excellent. This book lost me in the lack of character development and background information. There are fleeting references to how life was with their father around, despite it having an evident influence on their lives. We are only really given an insight into this at the end, having it at the beginning in more depth, could have added far more weight to the characters and the story as a whole.

I felt as if things just happened tentatively, without any real depth or connection to a bigger picture. The novel starts with a bang and hooks the reader straight away, however, it allowed itself to trail off into nothingness. Nothing major happens, there are no turning points or dramatic events, it just kind of finishes. Therefore, I found it lost its initial suspense and appeal quite suddenly, which resulted in a disappointing reading experience.

Overall, I liked the premise of this book and its originality, and certainly enjoyed its feel, which was what kept me reading. I liked the protagonist, Korede and her sister, Ayoola, but just wish I could have known more about them. The novel lacked depth and lost momentum, allowing little room for the darkly comical and complex story it could have been. It’s definitely worth a read, but don’t expect it to blow you away.

Cover image: Kristian Hammerstad for New Statesman

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An Introduction to Reedsy Discovery

Image: Reedsy Discovery

I was recently contacted by Reedsy Discovery, I had vaguely heard of the company before getting involved, as I had seen them floating about online. They approached me after seeing this blog, and asked if I wanted to become a reviewer – I did of course! But don’t worry, I won’t be abandoning this blog any time soon! 🙂

Please note – I am not being paid to write this, or promote them as a company, I simply think it is a really good platform for readers and writers and would like to share it with you.

What is Reedsy Discovery?

Think of it as Goodreads – but more aesthetically pleasing and easier to operate. Unlike traditional book platforms and media outlets, Reedsy specifically features ‘indie’ books and up and coming writers. Traditional publishing outlets typically ignore over 1 million self published titles a year, therefore, I really think this is an important platform.

Authors can pay $50 for Reedsy to self publish their work which involves having a reviewer read the book and write an accompanying review. As a reader or subscriber to the Reedsy feed, you can receive tailored recommendations for what books to read, based on genres you select and have enjoyed reading in the past. As a reviewer, you can be verified from the company after completing an application and samples of your work, and go onto select as many books to review as you like.

Upon becoming a reviewer, I have already been able to select a book I want to read and have now downloaded it onto my Kindle – it’s that simple. I think it’s a great thing to do, not only because you are directly supporting and helping up and coming authors, but it is also a great opportunity to develop your own writing and reviewing portfolio. And there is the free books element too…

Do we need another book platform?

It is so easy to be exposed to the latest works of successful authors, but it also can be overwhelming when you are trying to find something new to read.

What is great about Reedsy, as a reader, is that you can select genres you enjoy and it will give you a daily curated feed of books as recommendations. Goodreads doesn’t do this to the same extent – and anyway, it doesn’t feature ‘indie’ titles or lesser known authors, but focuses on the bestsellers. (Which aren’t always the best anyway, lets face it…)

The interesting thing about this platform is that readers can also participate and shape the author’s output by reading sample chapters before books are officially published. Every Reedsy user can therefore, have an involvement in shaping new books.

Review of my experience

I hope this doesn’t sound like a sponsored post, because importantly, it isn’t, I really think this is a wonderful website for readers and writers alike. You don’t get paid as a reviewer, but there is an opportunity for readers and authors to tip you – which is an easy process to set up. Moreover, I think the real reward comes in the experience it gives, and the exposure to new authors.

Reedsy gives you a selection of books from new authors which go beyond the overly exposed bestselling titles that we see and hear about everyday. As a reviewer, I feel a certain amount of responsibility in being given the task of reading the writer’s book and then writing one of its first reviews. But I am so glad for the opportunity to get involved in this process.

I have just been verified as a reviewer after previously submitting an application with examples of my writing, and am due to write my first review in the next month. The application process was smooth and I have found the website easy to use. Selecting a title to review was a very uncomplicated process – as a reviewer, you can select up to three books to review at one time and the range of genres to choose from is impressive.

Readers of Reedsy and authors can follow your profile and reviews and there is plenty of space to start a conversation about books. I haven’t used it much yet, but it already feels like a tight knit reader and writer community. The opportunity to talk to authors is something no other platform does yet and I really like this element.

I also opted in to have a Skype call with the Editorial Manager before I started, who explained the website and whole process, as well as answered my questions – it was a very informative chat!

You can follow my Reedsy page here. You can use the site as a reader or apply to become a reviewer!

A very useful article by The Bookseller written about Reedsy Discovery: https://www.thebookseller.com/futurebook/inside-story-behind-reedsys-new-discovery-platform-968531

Happy reading (and discovering…) 🙂