Nuala Ellwood

My Sister’s Bones

"Three days was all it took me to devour this debut novel."


When her mother dies, Kate must face reality and return to her old family home in Herne Bay, the place she managed to escape and become one of the top War Reporter’s. This meant leaving her sister Sally, who found an escape by drinking.

With a troubled childhood leading their future choices returning to the family home is not all it turns out to be for Kate. The mix of past memories and the terrors she has witnessed in her job, she must decipher between what is real and what is a hallucination, to uncover old secrets that have remained a mystery for the family.

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Three days was all it took me to devour this debut novel. The novel is split into two characters perspectives, sisters Kate and Sally. Both are seeking to escape the taunting memories of their childhoods, both with very different ways of remembering it. Kate ran away thinking she had found an escape but in actuality ran into the dangers of War in Aleppo. As for Sally she ran into the warm embrace of the bottle. Both are united in their past and yet a family feud keeps them apart for the majority of the book. The novel not only plays with the mind of the characters, but of the reader too. The way Nuala has written this novel presents us, the reader, with an unreliable narrator. We are brought straight into the novel with Kate being interviewed by a psychiatrist. This sets the tone for the novel as we’re left wondering if we should trust our protagonist at all, a thought that Ellwood plays on throughout the novel. What I really enjoyed about this book was that Ellwood wrote on topics of the modern era that need to be addressed in reality: mental health, alcoholism and the violence that continues in destitute countries and the aftermath of this trauma such as PTSD. Reading through Kate’s thoughts, dreams and hallucinations teamed with Sally’s constant drunkenness presents a disorientating story that makes you wonder what to believe. The twists in the novel make the whole book an incredibly compelling yet chilling read, you believe you know one thing and then Ellwood throws a twist into the mix. It’s from this that you can just begin to fathom what it must be like for the sisters in these mind sets. The final shock of the novel was one that I suspected early on, but when it did happen that didn’t make it any less of a shock, as I still had questions and doubts. Like the characters, I couldn’t quite take in this new information, or like them, didn’t want to. And the fact it was right under Kate’s nose the whole time, makes it even more frustrating. I found that the ending rounded off the whole trauma experienced in this story and brought a sense of peace for the characters. ‘My Sisters Bones’ is a chilling debut novel from Nuala Ellwood. I would recommend this book highly and needless to say will be keeping an eye out for her future works. Click here to see Nuala Ellwood on the Penguin Microsite. .

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