The Night Sister
By Jennifer McMahon
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 Sylvie 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.
Source: I purchased a paperback
I am a huge fan of Jennifer McMahon novels and The Night Sister was certainly not disappointing. I’m always amazed when authors can deliver amazing stories that are consistently good and mysterious. While many of her stories share similarities, each one has a unique element that I never see coming and it makes each book it’s own wonderful adventure. Part mystery, part contemporary, part horror, part supernatural… all of her novels combine everything I love into compelling stories that feature something odd, something slightly off, and childhood adventures and misunderstandings that become adult secrets and memories of the past.
I flew through The Night Sister on a cold and creepy evening, ready to be slightly scared, and the book definitely delivered. The story had 3 distinct parts. The 50s, where the story featured Sylvie and Rose, two sisters growing up in the Tower Motel in London, Vermont with their family; the 80s, featuring Amy, Rose’s daughter and her friend Piper, along with Piper’s sister Margot; the present, featuring Piper, who came back to town after an awful accident involving Amy. What secrets were hidden in the Tower motel?
I loved piecing together the past and trying to unravel what was really going on in the motel. As I said before, McMahon isn’t afraid to throw a bit a supernatural into the story, so when Rose assumed her sister was a mare, a creature who could essentially shape-shift, I read with a healthy dose of skepticism and intrigue. Just because there are legends in the story doesn’t mean McMahon will necessarily include them as plot devices, so you never really know what to expect. I love never knowing what amount of the fantastic will be a part of the story and what is just part of the backdrop. It keeps me on the edge of my seat and it worked well in The Night Sister.
Aside from the mysterious plot and wondering what happened with Sylvie’s disappearance in the 60s, I was interested in the dynamics between Piper and Margot and Amy, as well as Jason, who played a part in the girl’s past and present and was later married to Margot. I love the complexities of growing up and discovering the problems of adults, wanting to figure out a mystery, and also having to deal with the emotions and hormone’s driving young teens. The book was compelling on several levels and it made it easy to flip through the pages eagerly.
I loved The Night Sister and I definitely recommend it. Still, my favorite McMahon novel is Don’t Breathe A Word, but The Night Sister was very good. I don’t know how she does it, but she tells great stories consistently, with none of them being disappointing to me. I highly recommend all of her books.