Nathan reviews My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite, Doubleday Books, 2018, 226 pages
My Sister, the Serial Killer hooked me early and kept my focus throughout. The first chapter is a mere 20 words, but they hold so much power as the hint at what is to come in the rest of the novel. The short chapters made it feel as if I were leaping through the narrative. Because of this, I never feel bogged down with unnecessary details. Everything is important in some way; everything contributes. Everything flows and is fast. Once the novel picks up its pace, it does not slow down until it reaches the end, which feels a bit like an abrupt stop, leaving me wanting this ride to continue. The suspense and expectation keeps rolling even after the words come to a close.
I have always been a sucker for a book with chapter titles instead of numbers. (I cannot properly explain exactly why they make me happy.) Each chapter title in My Sister, the Serial Killer serves as a clue or obscure foreshadowing hint for what the next few pages would hold. Every single-word title is a bit of a mystery. However, only one title is used more than once: “Father.” Every time I see this heading on the page, my insides hit an emotional barrel roll because I knew what kind of tone to expect.
Of course, being told in first person perspective by Korede, everything is shaded with her bias. Still, I cannot help but despise a few characters, and I have a hard time feeling that way about anyone, fictional or real. How Braithwaite is able to make me feel so strongly about a fictional character comes as quite a surprise to me. I must say that I am glad for that reaction as I read. I have not felt so deeply about any character in a while, so this was refreshing… as refreshing as practically hating a character can get.
If you are looking for a “whodunnit?” type read, look elsewhere. (The title kind of gives away the culprit afterall.) The real mystery of this novel is how she gets away with it.