Imagine, for a moment, that you had a sister, whom you loved desperately. One night, the two of you went to bed together–you’re little, it’s not weird–but what is weird is that when you wake up the next morning… she’s gone.
Now imagine that you’re a single parent, you and your child, whom you love desperately, have just moved out of your parents’ house. You love your dad, but your mom is kind of a lot and you need a fresh start–you find what seems to be the perfect house…until it isn’t, and you know that something sinister is happening within the walls that are supposed to serve as your safehaven.
That, essentially, is the premise of Brenda Lyne‘s upcoming novel, Sister Lost; it’s coming out September 14th and it is so, so good!
(Real quick, here’s a link to my vlog review, too.)
Based on the sad story of Latanisha Carmichael, Lyne takes readers to fictionalized Minnesota and follows OR nurse Lexi Novak and her adorable daughter, Ava. A single mother who’s amazing, but insecure, Lexi is excited to be moving into her own house for the first time since having Ava, but is suddenly met with terrible headaches, epic heartburn, and overwhelming thoughts of hurting Ava.
Ava, meanwhile, is normally a super chill and happy-go-lucky kid, but when she’s in the house, she has the worst temper tantrums…and blames “the little girl.”
Rightfully scared for her own and her daughter’s lives, Lexi and her nextdoor neighbor Ryan start to investigate the house (and develop their relationship!), and find that it has… a spooky house, to say the least. As local pharmacist Joanna puts it, “that house has seen more than its fair share of death…I don’t believe in coincidences.” But the real question is this–will they be able to heal the house? This was supposed to be Lexi and Ava’s big break and fresh start, can they get that as long as they stay in the house??
You’re just gonna have to read to find out.
I’ll tell you what, though, it’s definitely worth the read! Lyne expertly sprinkles clues and details throughout the book, she’s a master of dramatic irony since you as a reader start to piece the story together, sometimes before the characters do. She’s also great at setting up dramatic relationships and interactions. For example, there’s an exciting verbal-slapdown between Lexi and her no-good baby daddy. I also loved the juxtaposition of Lexi’s relationship with Ava compared to that of her relationship between her and her own mother.
In fact, the whole discussion/exploration of mother-daughter relationships was really interesting and I thought that it was a really interesting source of tension and plot for this story. I loved the characters–they’re all extremely developed, from their physical descriptions to their personality/inner thoughts, it’s clear that Lyne put a lot of thought and effort into creating the characters and their world.
In terms of pacing, I couldn’t put the book down, it was so interesting and engaging. Something that I noticed with Lyne’s writing is that, particularly in the middle of the book when Lexi and Ryan are researching the house’s history, she’s really good at ending chapters. It’s entertaining, you want to know more about those little “guest-characters,” but at the same time, you want to know how their piece of the puzzle fits into the overall mystery of the house.
One other thing that I wish, since the characters and their relationships among each other were so developed, that we saw a little bit more of Lexi and her mom, however. There’s this part near the end, where Ava really steps up and spits some truth in the way that only toddlers can, and that demonstration between pure, childhood love compared to years of life experience was just really interesting. I wanted more, but I realize that this is almost more of a Lexi/Ava-house story, so there just wasn’t quite enough room to really explore that other relationship.
Overall, it’s a really solid read! If you like mystery and true crime, this book has it. If you like character driven stories, you’re almost sure to like this one. It’s just such a page turner that keeps you engaged, the only thing that might deter you from this story is the fact that it’s mystery/thriller. Since there’s an assumed murder (sorry for the spoiler) at the center of the story, and there are some violent thoughts/actions, I could see where that might be a little sensitive for some readers, but I don’t think that they’re so graphic that it would be a major turn-off for you.
That’s all I’ve got for now! Be sure to stick around for next week’s review of Blue the Green Sky by Stuart Buck.