My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite – a review

My Sister the Serial Killer has been all over the bookish world recently, and it even got shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2019. So when I saw it in my local library, I mean, it would have been rude not to pick it up, right?

The book is a literary crime thriller set in Lagos, Nigeria. It follows hospital nurse, Korede, as she helps her sister Ayoola cover up 3 murders: all Ayoola’s former boyfriends. Torn between believing her sister and following what she know’s is morally right, it follows her as she has to face the friction between her family and the safety of others she loves.

With short, snappy chapters, this novel perfectly blends satire with dark sarcasm and black comedy. It immediately grabs your attention, teasing you into “just one more chapter”. Its got so much crammed into just 240 -not even full- pages, reading this can be a jerky ride, pulling you from one element of it to another. The pace, at times, can feel a bit too fast, and its hard to not feel as if so much more could have been gotten from this story. However I think that overall the pace does enhance the overarching story, and the jerkiness alms replicates the consistent conflict that Korede deals with from the first page to the last.

My Sister the Serial Killer explores ideas of sisterhood, childhood abuse, and the challenges o love in all its forms. In general it has some very dark themes, but its all wrapped up in a perfect parcel of subtle feminist comedy. It certainly makes a caricature of men and weaves in some interesting observations on what men desire and how things like social media can play into that. Manipulation is a huge theme, and wjile its so wrong, I couldnt’t help but be in awe of Ayoola’s abilities to not only manipulate men, but use societies rigid ideas and expectations of women to her, rather twisted, advantage. Throught the novel it is made clear that Korede got the brains out of the two sisters, ad Ayoola got the looks. Ayoola kills ’em, Korede suppresses the consequences. And while dont necessarily disagreee with this, the ideas this book portrays through Ayoola do make you question certain elements of society in a way I don’t think could have been portrayed through Korede’s more practical way of thinking.

Furthermore, Ayoola’s casual, detached view of her murders did make the novel even darker. Especially as, at least to me, she didn’t feel like a cold-blooded killer. Despite being fully aware of her lapsing murders, she still comes across as a regular pretty woman. That in itse;f worries me: that even though I know something for absaloute certain, if you told me otherwise I would almost believe you. Its a perfect example of how the manipulation is caried out to the reader as well. Somethingbthat did bother me though, was the aloofness of other people that were aware of Ayoola’s killig streak. i can understnd Korede’s emotionsmore, as she is the elde5r sister and she has grown up constantly protecting and taking the blame for her sister. Her indecision on reporting her sister is *almost* completely understandable. Other people, however, those with less bonds attaching themselves to Ayoola, I would have anticipated more of a reaction from. I mean, I would exaclty say finding out someone is a serial killer is something that occurs in most people’s everyday lives.

So yeah, I wasn’t absaloutly in love with this book. It was a quick and and unique read featuring some interesting discussions, but nothing mind-blowing. I was definately hocked that it was shortlisted for an award, as while I didn’t hate it, I felt it was an all-round decent book. Its not something that will be making its way into my most-loved books, but I wouldn’t say I regret reading it. If you are looking for something short and distinctive, I don’t think picking this up would be a bad idea.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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