The Other Sister
Sarah Zettel
Grand Central Publishing 2018
384 pages

The Other Sister is an intense psychological thriller by Sarah Zettel.

It centres around the extended Monroe family who live in Michigan. Martin is is the wealthy patriarch; the father of Geraldine and her passive and saintly older sister Marie. He uses his considerable manipulative power and intimidation to keep things running just the way he wants. Everyone must keep Martin happy. Kindle at Amazon: The Other Sister on Kindle

Geraldine is the black sheep and rebel. She is writing a book that delves into the world of violent and twisted fairy tales, using original versions that were written long before they were sanitized and softened into the familiar stories that many of us grew up with.

Although many family members appear to have died from mysterious or self-inflicted circumstances, Geraldine admits to the reader that 25 years ago, she was the one who killed their mother.

She has reluctantly returned to the fold to attend a large family gathering.

The family drama that she sought to escape goes back generations. It is at least partly tied to wealth, possessions and the appearance of perfection and success. Only those intimately connected, know the true and deep nature of the Monroes’ dysfunction. There is much to be discovered below their facade.

Unbeknownst to anyone else, the sisters share a dangerous and disturbing secret. They have a plan, but can they trust each other to carry it out, or will old patterns and misguided loyalties get in the way?

The Other Sister is about loyalty, deceit, and keeping up appearances. It is told from the perspectives of each sister, in the present, and at crucial times throughout their lives. Jumping in with both feet, a lot of characters appear at the onset. Remembering them and their relationships is challenging, but who plays critical roles becomes clear quickly.

Sarah Zettel is a writer with a penchant for description and detail. Sometimes as we are led down the rabbit hole, the plot is complicated and confusing, but often details work in her favour. The way she builds information about the Monroes’ nature and capabilities makes her characters frightening and unpredictable people. The more we read, the more shocked we are by the sickness and depths of the family dynamics, and the more the family does to protect and preserve the stories they want to be true.

Excerpts from Geraldine’s research on fairy tales add an interesting perspective. They have the reader thinking about the scripts and fables of the Monroe family, and what will play out in the sisters’ version of the tales.

As a psychological thriller, The Other Sister by Sarah Zettel provides an exciting read. It will definitely keep you off balance and wondering what will happen next.

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