The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon
Pub. Date: August 4, 2015
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, Doubleday!)
Summary: Once the thriving attraction of rural Vermont, the Tower Motel now stands in disrepair, alive only in the memories of Amy, Piper, and Piper’s kid sister, Margot. The three played there as girls until the day that their games uncovered something dark and twisted in the motel’s past, something that ruined their friendship forever.
Now adult, Piper and Margot have tried to forget what they found that fateful summer, but their lives are upended when Piper receives a panicked midnight call from Margot, with news of a horrific crime for which Amy stands accused. Suddenly, Margot and Piper are forced to relive the time that they found the suitcase that once belonged to Silvie Slater, the aunt that Amy claimed had run away to Hollywood to live out her dream of becoming Hitchcock’s next blonde bombshell leading lady. As Margot and Piper investigate, a cleverly woven plot unfolds—revealing the story of Sylvie and Rose, two other sisters who lived at the motel during its 1950s heyday. Each believed the other to be something truly monstrous, but only one carries the secret that would haunt the generations to come.
Genre: Mystery, Paranormal
A new Jennifer McMahon novel is cause for celebration. The very first review I ever posted here on the blog was Jennifer’s Don’t Breathe a Word, back in August of 2011. It took a shameful three years before I read another and in February of last year I waxed poetic over The Winter People. Two novels down, two deliciously creepy stories that had me jumping in broad daylight.
When I heard about Jennifer’s upcoming novel I wasted no time in grabbing it (bless you, Doubleday, for the autoapproval ♥) There was no doubt in my mind that, once again, I’d be completely captivated – and thoroughly spooked!
In the 1950s, the Tower Motel was bustling, its 28 rooms filled to capacity. Silvie and her younger sister Rose entertain the guests with their chicken circus and famous Lucy the cow. Once the guests return to their rooms however, the sisters’ true feeling emerge. For each is convinced the other is a monster. A living, breathing, ripped-from-a-storybook monster.
With construction on a new highway comes the fall of the Tower Motel. Within a few short decades, the motel is all but abandoned, its stone tower in ruins. Amy, Rose’s daughter, and her friends Piper and Margot, spend their days playing among the stones…until they discover an old suitcase and a secret 29th room.
A decade later, the girls are now adults, their childhood friendship left behind in the past. When Margot delivers crushing news to Piper – a horrible, gruesome crime has been committed and all signs point to Amy as the prime suspect – the sisters dive back into the past and realize that maybe those monsters Rose and Silvie believed in might actually exist.
Ohhhh my. OH. MY. Yet again Jennifer has done it. I really should know better by now than to read one of her novels when I’m all alone in the house, but I couldn’t help myself and, once more, jumped at every noise I heard. The Night Sister heavily relies on folklore, particularly the mare, a person capable of transforming into an animal at night. In the hands of a lesser author, this would turn into a hokey story that would leave me rolling my eyes with each paragraph. In Jennifer’s hands I truly believed in these creatures, could envision the change, the eyes glowing at me from the darkness. Just thinking back is enough to send a chill up my spine!
This ability (curse?) carries on through generations – I don’t want to ruin the book for anyone, so all I’ll say it that it didn’t end with Rose and Silvie. And that the 29th room was like something out of my wildest dreams. I’m quickly discovering that Jennifer McMahon has an incredible talent and I’m not about to let another year go by without reading more of her work. Luckily for me, she’s got quite a backlist! Needless to say I absolutely loved The Night Sister, easily ranking among my favorites of 2015. If you’re new to this author, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this one.