I’ve been considering what content to post on my blog at the moment, if any, and whether people want to read book reviews now. However, I created Behind Her Books as a way of sharing books that I love and that I think people will love too. Books are one of the best ways in which to learn. They open our eyes and minds to the life experiences of others. So, I will continue to do write reviews whilst actively focusing on diversifying those that are included. The book I’m going to talk about today is My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite. Lots of you will have already heard of this absolute zinger of a novel. I read it back in April and I think I gulped it down in a day or two.
My Sister, the Serial Killer is about two sisters, Korede and Ayoola. When Korede receives a distressed call from Ayoola one night, she knows exactly what’s happened. Unfortunately for Korede (and the men of Nigeria), Ayoola has the slightly worrying habit of disposing of her boyfriends in a lethal fashion. This is the third boyfriend of hers that Korede has had to deal with, bleach and all. Above everything, Korde does this for the love of her sister.
Under the surface though, Korede is extremely jealous of her. Ayoola is beautiful and walks through life with seemingly no care for the havoc she wreaks and lives she (literally) destroys. She is untouchable and Korede is left to worry about it. So when Ayoola catches the attention of Tade, the doctor that Korede works with and is deeply infatuated with, her loyalty is tested.
This book is a perfect example of how to pull off dark humour. The subject matter should be sad and extremely serious, yet somehow the author sprinkles nuggets of sardonic humour in-between that made me laugh when I really probably shouldn’t. It takes serious talent to strike that balance, especially given the sharp, sparse prose. The chapters are little more than snippets, capturing these wicked characters perfectly in brief snapshots.
It’s funny because you probably should also intensely dislike both of the sisters. One of them is a manipulative murderer, the other is complicit, right? Yet, for some inexplicable reason, you end up being drawn in by these women and almost feeling sympathy for them. Part of this magic is because Braithwaite has crafted layered, complex characters. The narrative flashes back to the sisters’ childhood and the family history that perhaps cultivated the adults that they have now become. We see the impact of women being considered secondary whilst also being pitted against one another at its ugliest.
Through this extreme situation, Braithwaite manages to explore the age-old trope of “blood being thicker than water” with fresh eyes. There’s something incredibly addictive about the relationship between these sisters. An impending sense of dread looms over the story and you’re hooked on the suspense of who out of the two can, or will, cause more damage.
I loved My Sister, the Serial Killer – what an incredible, if unsettling, debut. It’s a fast read and I promise you won’t want to look away, but don’t let that trick you into thinking it’s lightweight. It packs quite the deadly punch.
Link to book as always is here.