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In Psychological Thrillers, Sisters Have a Very Special Role to Play


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As the mother of daughters, I am well aware that sisters can be twisted. Sure, they can be loving, but there is often a darker side to this relationship … and what makes it so frightening is the speed with which the pendulum swings. One moment it’s all rainbows and unicorns, the next it’s hairpulling and eye-gouging (or is this just at my place?). As someone with brothers, this relationship has always been fascinating to me. How is it that two people can be so close, and yet so treacherous?

This is something I wanted to explore in my new novel, The Good Sister, but clearly I’m not the only one who is interested in this subject. Here are a few of my favorite novels about twisted sisters:

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The Girl in the Mirror, by Rose Carlyle

The twins in The Girl in the Mirror are identical and beautiful but beyond what the eye can see lies a darkness that sets them apart. Once a crazy inheritance and a boat full of secrets is added to the mix, their lives spiral out of control. This seductive thriller is a novel about sibling rivalry at its worst.

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The Inheritance of Secrets, by Sonya Bates

The estranged sisters in Sonya Bates’ debut novel, The Inheritance of Secrets, come together in a time of crisis. One is a successful writer, the other is a recovering addict. Their relationship is one of give and take but the murder of their World War 11 grandparents throws them into a situation where only trust in each other will get them through … the one thing they don’t have.

The Favorite Sister Jessica Knoll

The Favorite Sister, by Jessica Knoll

Brett and Kelly have always toed the line between supportive sisters and bitter rivals. Growing up, Brett was the problem child, in the shadow of the brilliant and beautiful Kelly. In adulthood, the tables have turned—Kelly is a struggling single mother and Brett has skyrocketed to success on a reality TV show. When Kelly manipulates herself onto the show and into Brett’s world, Brett is right to be threatened. Kelly, and only Kelly, knows her younger sister’s appalling secret, and it could ruin her forever.

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The Silent Sister, by Diane Chamberlain 

In this novel, Diane Chamberlain explores the secrets that exist between those who know each other best. When her father passes away, Riley returns home to sort out his estate. Relying on a pushy family friend to help her, she discovers that her father had secrets–big secrets that had changed the family forever without her even knowing anything about it. Her sister Lisa, who had been mourned by her family for years after she committed suicide, turns out to be alive. But what happened? And why? Can Riley find out the truth and bring her lost sister back into the fold? 

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My Sister, the Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite

When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other… My Sister, the Serial Killer is a blackly comic novel about how blood is thicker— and more difficult to get out of the carpet—than water.

***

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And my own novel, The Good Sister, is of course about sisters. From the outside, Fern and Rose seem as close as twin sisters can be: Rose is the responsible one and Fern is the quirky one. But the sisters are devoted to one another and Rose has always been Fern’s protector from the time they were small.

Fern needed protecting because their mother was a true sociopath who hid her true nature from the world, and only Rose could see it. Fern always saw the good in everyone. Years ago, Fern did something very, very bad. And Rose has never told a soul. When Fern decides to help her sister achieve her heart’s desire of having a baby, Rose realizes with growing horror that Fern might make choices that can only have a terrible outcome. What Rose doesn’t realize is that Fern is growing more and more aware of the secrets Rose, herself, is keeping. And that their mother might have the last word after all. 

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Michael Neff
Algonkian Producer
New York Pitch Director
Author, Development Exec, Editor

We are the makers of novels, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

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