October Bookety Club Review of Sisters by Daisy Johnson

 
October Bookety Club review of Sisters by Daisy Johnson

This is a story of two teenage sisters, July and September, who are taken to the north of England by their mother Sheela after a terrible accident occurs at their school. The book opens with a poem like list setting us up with clues for what is to come in the brilliant twist at the end. Johnson’s beautiful and magnificent writing create a story reminiscent of a spooky fable, paying homage to her love of horror. It felt like being in a dream to me, set in this world but not quite. I absolutely loved it.

The main focus of this novel is the relationship between July and September, a dynamic that is both intensely loving and intensely cruel. September is the older sister, but not by much, and acts as a barrier between July and the rest of the world to the point July struggles with her individual identity throughout. Told through the eyes of July, we only hear fragments of September leaving her complex and at times polarising nature even further shrouded in mystery. The sisters often play childish sinister games, which is where we really see the unsettling power dynamics between the pair. When we are briefly granted access to hear from their Mother, Sheela, she brings the parts of the story together that we’re otherwise left wondering almost as though from an outside point of view.

The story mainly takes place in a run down old home called ‘The Settle House’, a family home that has been around long before the girls were born. The house responds to the heightened tensions in the story making it a character in its own right and adding to the creepy atmosphere. If horror isn’t your thing then don’t let the label put you off, I didn’t find the horror aspect too overwhelming and instead relished the point of difference in a novel that covers mental health, identity, codependency and complex female relationships.

This is a short and fast paced read. The perfect weekend story and another great advocate for why short books are never lacking in depth or story. There is nothing quite like that sharp punch in the gut of a whole consuming quick read that can be gobbled up in an afternoon.

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