Rated Reads

The Night Sister

by Jennifer McMahon

Rated: Moderate

When a woman is found shot and her husband and son butchered in their home, with only their 10-year-old daughter surviving, her childhood friend Piper returns from Los Angeles to their small hometown of London, Vermont. Piper and her sister, Margot, who still lives in London, are rattled by the message their long-ago friend Amy left: “29 Rooms.”

They had grown up playing at the Tower Motel, which Amy’s grandfather had built, including a tower that he built as an homage to London, England, where Amy’s grandmother was from. Once a thriving business, the motel and its 28 rooms no longer received visitors when they were kids because of the rise of the interstates. So Amy lived in the house attached to the motel and she and her friends played around the abandoned motel. But strange sightings led them to do some investigating, which led them to the discovery of the hidden 29th room — and the upsetting contents of the room. Amy cut off her friendship with Piper and Margot after that, and the girls did what they could to forget.

Piper and Margot refuse to believe that Amy was responsible for killing her husband and son, and certain facts don’t quite add up. What truly happened to Amy’s long-missing aunt Sylvie? Are the delusional ramblings of Amy’s mostly absent mother, who returned to be with her daughter and her family just a few years earlier, possibly based in reality? Could monsters really exist? And if so, can they be stopped?

The Night Sister’s story is told through flashbacks from the present to 1955 and 1989, when Amy’s mother and aunt were teens and when she and her friends were around 12. It lays out bits at a time of the mystery of what happened during each time period, of the sinister happenings. It’s paced well and gives just enough information for readers to feel compelled to keep reading, to find out the truth, however alarming it may be. Is there a supernatural element, or just dark secrets? Readers don’t know until far along in the book. The book is entertaining and enthralling.

Rated: Moderate, for one use of strong language, occasional instances of moderate and mild language, some scenes of death that aren’t too detailed but hint at being gory, some kissing (including two young girls “practicing”/”demonstrating” on each other), and mild references to sexual behavior.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for more than 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

One Response to The Night Sister

  1. Evalyn Joy Fulmer says:

    Very thorough review.

  • The Night Sister
  • by Jennifer McMahon
  • Rated: Moderate
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Reviewer: