Review: Sisters by Daisy Johnson
After receiving a lovely Halloween themed package in the post, I was excited to try out Sisters by Daisy Johnson. I hadn't heard of it prior to Vintage Books getting in touch, and the premise gripped me. I love sister-sister relationships in dark books, and this was no exception.
Born just ten months apart, July and September are thick as thieves, never needing anyone but each other. Now, following a case of school bullying, the teens have moved away with their single mother to a long-abandoned family home near the shore. In their new, isolated life, July finds that the deep bond she has always shared with September is shifting in ways she cannot entirely understand. A creeping sense of dread and unease descends inside the house. Meanwhile, outside, the sisters push boundaries of behaviour—until a series of shocking encounters tests the limits of their shared experience, and forces shocking revelations about the girls’ past and future.
This was not what I was expecting (how many times am I going to say that until I just accept that I clearly have no intuition when it comes to books?). This was a subtly written horror. The relationship between July and September was consistently unnerving. They were so much alike whilst also being polar opposites. In many ways it reminded my of the two female leads in psychological thriller masterpiece, Black Swan - at opposing ends of a spectrum but ultimately yearning for the same outcomes. September is the older sister, only 10 months older than July. She is more forceful and brash with her decisions, where as July is often afraid to speak her mind and needs September to stand up for her. There are multiple occasions throughout the novel where you can feel September's influence over July and how she gets a perverse enjoyment over leading her sister astray. The relationship between the two protagonists was superbly written with a consistent sense of dread. There are hints of a supernatural theme involved, where you'll never quite know the extent of the connection between them.
I couldn't possible tell you anything about the plot, but this book can only be described as a mind-bending ride. You'll be sure to feel uncomfortable and maybe even a little nauseous - and to be entirely honest - I'm not even sure why?! That is the genius of the writing! I have been reading a lot of horror books this season, and Sisters showed off a very particular writing style that I was very impressed with; I'd say it can best be described as a literary horror novel. Despite there never being excessive gore in the book, that never stopped me from being on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what would happen next. Johnson didn't go for shock factor or include graphic descriptions to scare her readers and entertain cheap thrills. Even though I love these elements in horror, I found Johnson's writing to be more nuanced and subtle, creating a suspenseful build up that in many ways speaks more for her talent as a writer.
Initial Prediction: 4 stars
Final Rating: 4 stars
Publication Date: 13 August 2020
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Genres: Contemporary, Horror
# of Pages: 186