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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Night Sister

ISBN: 9780385538527

Publisher: Doubleday

Publication Date: 8/4/2015

Format: Other

My Rating: 4 Stars

The latest novel from New York Times best-selling author Jennifer McMahon is an atmospheric, gripping, and suspenseful tale that probes the bond between sisters and the peril of keeping secrets.

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.

About the Author

I was born in 1968 and grew up in my grandmother’s house in suburban Connecticut, where I was convinced a ghost named Virgil lived in the attic. I wrote my first short story in third grade. I graduated with a BA from Goddard College in 1991 and then studied poetry for a year in the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College. A poem turned into a story, which turned into a novel, and I decided to take some time to think about whether I wanted to write poetry or fiction. After bouncing around the country, I wound up back in Vermont, living in a cabin with no electricity, running water, or phone with my partner, Drea, while we built our own house. Over the years, I have been a house painter, farm worker, paste-up artist, Easter Bunny, pizza delivery person, homeless shelter staff member, and counselor for adults and kids with mental illness — I quit my last real job in 2000 to work on writing full time. In 2004, I gave birth to our daughter, Zella.

These days, we’re living in an old Victorian in Montpelier, Vermont. Some neighbors think it looks like the Addams family house, which brings me immense pleasure. Website Twitter

My Review

A special thank you to Doubleday and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange fon an honest review.

Jennifer McMahon returns following The Winter People, with THE NIGHT SISTER, a combination of a gripping scary crime mystery thriller, dark secrets, and a twist of ghost, horror and supernatural. Moving from past to present, we learn of a crime surrounding at the rural mysterious Tower Motel, in London, Vermont, across multi-generations. Amy Piper and Piper’s kid sister Margot played at the motel growing up, stumbling upon a terrible secret. Now Margot and Piper dig into the motel’s past, as they still do not believe Amy was capable of murder. Of course, motels are always scary and a good setting for a book of this nature. (keep thinking Bates Motel). As the book opens we hear from Amy (2013), she is trying not to think about the thing in the tower; if only she could travel back to talk to the two girls (Rose and Sylvie) and warn them what was coming. Now Amy is alone and out of options. Amy has to make a choice. She thinks back to when she was twelve. Of Piper and Margot, and the day they found the suitcase; and after that nothing was the same. She is out of time. She is preparing to kill herself. Next we hear from Jason with gunshots and screams from the old Tower Motel. Only 28 rooms. A place where he used to hide out as a child. Three victims. An old photograph of two little girls and across it “29 rooms”. He recalls Amy telling him recently, she is going crazy. A rather slow even paced tale, an intense puzzle to solve; centered around the three girls. The motel was built by Amy’s grandfather who was from London, England. The motel at one time was nice; however, now run down. Years ago during the summer, the girls discover a suitcase, which led them to dark family secrets. Now Amy is married with two children and resides at her childhood home with aging grandmother, Charlotte. Piper has her own business in LA, and younger sister Margot is married and expecting her first child with policeman husband Jason (who used to date Amy). From the 1961 to 1989, to 2013 to a time back in the fifties at the quaint Tower Motel, owned by Charlotte and Clarence Slater in its hey-day. They had two children, Sylvie and Rose. Years later, Rose’s daughter Amy is married and mother of two. There is something fearful – going back to 1989 when Amy becomes friends with the sisters, Piper and Margot. What was the shocking discovery which changed their lives? In 2013 Piper returns to Vermont to help Margot with her pregnancy. A nice character study from childhood dreams, fears, and aspirations; Sylvie who wants to move to Hollywood, and Rose, the younger sister who wants to get away from her older sister, and continues to say her old sister is disappearing in the middle of the night, dark and scary. As always, McMahon knows how to write creepy,monsters, scary, and mysterious and pulls out all the stops. Crafting a multi-layered, complex emotional family tragedy --giving you just enough to keep you pulled in, as she slowly fills in the gaps. From tangled relationships, to financial hardships, and pressures delving into the dark side from the fifties to 2013, with some Hollywood Hitchcock movie themes, fans will enjoy.

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