My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite: A review

I found myself grinning and sometimes chuckling my way through this tale of a serial killer in Lagos. Does that make me a bad person?

The description of the book on Goodreads is: "Satire meets slasher in this short, darkly funny hand grenade of a novel about a Nigerian woman whose younger sister has a very inconvenient habit of killing her boyfriends." That pretty succinctly sums it up. But it is actually much more than that.

It is, at its heart, a story about family dynamics and loyalty. It is a cleverly written satire, full of dark humor and social commentary that is elegantly disguised. But, basically, it is the story of the love and devotion of two sisters.

We see things from the point of view of Korede. She is a nurse and a neat freak and she seems to lead a fairly normal life. She is well thought of on her job at the hospital in Lagos and is in line to be named head nurse. She has a crush on a young doctor called Tade and she hopes that he will notice her and realize they are soul mates. She is the older sister and the plain one in the family.

Ayoola is the younger sister and she is flirty, charming, and gorgeous. She is noticed wherever she goes and men fall all over themselves trying to get her attention. Unlike Korede, she has no shortage of boyfriends, but when she tires of a beau, instead of breaking up with him, she kills him. Then she calls on Korede to help her dispose of the body. So far, this has happened three times and Korede has learned via the internet that with the third murder, one is considered to be a serial killer. 

But what led the two sisters to this point? We learn that they grew up with an autocratic and abusive father who regularly beat them with a cane. Their mother had retreated into an Ambien-induced fugue and was unable to protect them. Finally, when the girls were teenagers, the father was preparing to beat them one day and reached for his cane and he fell and hit his head on a glass coffee table. The girls watched as his life drained away, then they woke their mother and told her. It isn't entirely clear whether the man slipped or was pushed but I have my suspicions.

At any rate, Korede managed to deal with the tragedy and at least feign normality. Ayoola, too, successfully feigns normality; no one ever looks beyond her beautiful face and body. But, in fact, she is a sociopath. 

The two sisters continue to live with their mother and lead their separate lives but then one day, Ayoola turns up at the hospital to visit her sister and Tade sees her and immediately falls under her spell. Korede's worst fear is realized when they start a relationship. Will this one end like the others? Korede must find some way to prevent it.

This was just great fun to read from beginning to end. It was well-written and the quirky characters were fully developed by the author. It certainly has a unique premise and I found the plot thoroughly addictive. I was sorry to see it end.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars   

Comments

  1. I saw this in Bookmarks. Definitely on my list now!

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  2. I think I'd like it too. I chuckled through your review. Nicely done.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Carmen. Who ever thought serial killing could be the subject of a farce? But, it works!

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  3. Great review of a surprising book! Cool that we both read it at almost the same time.

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