My Sister, The Serial Killer – the title has got a nice ring to it, don’t you think? It is so fascinating that I decided to own a copy. Yes, this is one of the few books that I wanted to read just because of the title. Also, the book had been making the rounds on Bookstagram ever since it was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019 and Man Booker Prize Longlist 2019. It didn’t however, win the Women’s Prize or make it to the shortlist of the latter. Do you want to know why I think that is justified? Read to find out.
This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links, which means I will get a commission for every purchase you make using it, at no additional cost to you.
Korede and Ayoola are sisters living in Lagos, Nigeria. Ayoola is classically beautiful, receives untold male attention, and has always been the favorite child. But Ayoola is also a sociopath who keeps killing her boyfriends when they anger her.
Korede is Ayoola’s clean up crew. She comes onto the murder scene afterwards, bleach in hand. For the weeks following such a clean up, Korede is haunted by nightmares. Ayoola, on the other hand, always remains unaffected.
But then, one day, Ayoola begins to flirt with Tade, the handsome doctor with whom Korede has secretly in love. When Tade begins to pursue Ayoola, Korede must decide how far she’s willing to go to protect her sister. Korede knows, however, that saving one would mean sacrificing the other.
The title, with obvious connotations, itself will give you an idea about what the book is all about. Murder. Serial Killing. That too, a sibling is the killer. Intriguing to say the least!
Our main protagonist is Korede who works in a local hospital in Lagos as a nurse. One night, her dinner is interrupted when she gets a phone call from her younger sister Ayoola. Because guess what! She has done it again – killing her boyfriend and claiming it as a move of self-defense. And this is the third time!
Korede rushes to her aid and helps in cleaning up the mess. Well, literally. Korede knows what is expected of her – bleach, rubber gloves, disposal of the body and nerves of steel while her sister sits there without a care in the world.
Korede knows she has to go to the police for the good because a) killing three times definitely cannot be self-defense and b) for the good men of Nigeria. However, Korede loves her sister so much that she lets it go until Ayoola starts dating the doctor at her hospital – the one who Korede has secretly been in love with for long. No, Korede cannot knowingly let him be the next victim. But to save one would mean sacrificing another.
|Read 2019 Reading Challenges
My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite – Book Review
Sparse Writing Style
Good things first. I loved the sparse writing style of Braithwaite. The book is divided into short chapters and you can easily finish this in a day or so. But this also means that there are no lengthy descriptions, not even about the cultural background of Lagos. I didn’t mind that at all, because after all, it is a murder mystery and I want to get straight to the point. The scenes shift rapidly and that makes it a good page-turner.
Ayoola summons me with these words – Korede, I killed him. I had hoped I would never hear those words again.
Ironical it may seem, but Braithwaite blends Ayoola’s indifference to the serial killings with humour. It’s kind of the highlight of the book where Ayoola is least affected by the serial murders she commits. She is even ready to post Instagram photos of food soon after she commits her third murder.
There is music blasting from Ayoola’s room. She is listening to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.” It would be more appropriate to play Brymo or Lourde, something solemn or yearning, rather than the musical equivalent of a pack of M&Ms.
While it was okay to associate the killings with humour in the first few chapters, the whole thing appeared stale as chapters went by. I may be the one with an unpopular opinion, but the author failed to make me laugh. 😐
Moral Angle to the Story
We know by now that Korede is fiercely faithful to her sister Ayoola. But the book also gives us a backdrop to what Korede actually feels about the whole situation. Ayoola has always been the prettiest amongst the two, their Mom’s favorite child and all the men try to woo her. Korede is clearly overshadowed by her sister though she is the sensible logical one with a job who also cleans up her sister’s mess.
The book also gives us a sneak-peek into the family dynamics with their parents. Their troubled past could be the reason for Korede’s loyalty. She knows that the repercussions of her loyalty may lead to the death of her crush and she begins to question Ayoola’s motive behind the three serial murders. Is blood thicker than water?
On their three-month anniversary, she stabbed him in the bathroom of his apartment. She didn’t mean to, of course. He was angry, screaming at her, his onion stained breath hot against her face. (But why was she carrying the knife?)
This moral angle to the story instantly makes you, the reader, question too – what would you do in such a situation? Would you coverup three serial killings? As mentioned before, Ayoola isn’t the slightest bit remorseful about all the murders she has committed. She just moves on and finds another man to charm and in the end, kill.
I wanted to shake Korede and scream at her for letting herself being manipulated by her sister. I was angry for putting up with her sister’s bad ways and was even angrier when I didn’t see any character development to Korede. Meh. All I wanted was her to stand up for herself and to say that it isn’t okay and that she won’t tolerate being manipulated anymore.
Thriller, they said?
Braithwaite started off her book My Sister, The Serial Killer rather well. With a brilliant plot, there was so much the author could do about it. But sadly, it was badly executed. There is a certain amount of nail-biting thrilling experience you sort for in a murder mystery. Now I guess, maybe, it wasn’t a murder mystery after all. The book didn’t end as I hoped for and that made the whole book kinda shoddy for me. It just wasn’t what I expected of it.
Will I Recommend My Sister, The Serial Killer?
Oyinkan Braithwaite’s My Sister, The Serial Killer is a one-time read. With about 226 pages, pick it up when you want a quick read.
3 Paws on 5.
Reading this for the Write Tribe Reading Challenge Prompt: A Book from the Man Booker Prize Longlist
Find the books I have read in 2019. Goodreads Count: 36/52
I am taking my Alexa Rank to the next level with Blogchatter