Review: My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood

Title: My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense, Mystery
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


In the vein of Fiona Barton’s The Widow and Renée Knight’s Disclaimer, a psychological thriller about a war reporter who returns to her childhood home after her mother’s death but becomes convinced that all is not well in the house next door—but is what she’s seeing real or a symptom of the trauma she suffered in Syria?

The One Person You Should Trust Is Lying to You…

Kate has spent fifteen years bringing global injustice home: as a decorated war reporter, she’s always in a place of conflict, writing about ordinary people in unimaginable situations. When her mother dies, Kate returns home from Syria for the funeral. But an incident with a young Syrian boy haunts her dreams, and when Kate sees a boy in the garden of the house next door—a house inhabited by an Iraqi refugee who claims her husband is away and she has no children—Kate becomes convinced that something is very wrong.

As she struggles to separate her memories of Syria from the quiet town in which she grew up—and also to reconcile her memories of a traumatic childhood with her sister’s insistence that all was not as Kate remembers—she begins to wonder what is actually true…and what is just in her mind.

In this gripping, timely debut, Nuala Ellwood brings us an unforgettable damaged character, a haunting , humanizing look at the Syrian conflict, and a deeply harrowing psychological thriller that readers won’t be able to put down.


My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood slowly builds into a suspense-laden mystery with very unexpected twists and turns.

War correspondent Kate Rafter’s return to her childhood home following her mother’s death contributes to her increasingly fragile mental state. Her recent experiences in Syria are horrific and the events leading up to her last assignment play a fairly large role in her declining emotional stability. Kate is suffering from extensive post traumatic stress disorder which makes her an increasingly unreliable narrator when she begins seeing and hearing things that cannot be corroborated by anyone else. Much of her story is revealed through her sessions with Dr. Shaw and no one is quite sure what to believe about Kate’s recounting of extremely traumatic events that have recently occurred.

Kate’s narration comes to an abrupt and shocking end and the perspective then switches to that of her younger sister, Sally, who is a raging alcoholic. Their relationship is badly fractured but Kate make a valiant effort to get through to her sister on her visit home. Sally consumes copious amounts of wine and spends her days in a drunken stupor as she laments the rift with her daughter, Hannah, whom she has not seen in several years. Her husband, Paul Cheverell is incredibly patient with her but their marriage is definitely breathing its last gasp. After a surprise visitor appears on her doorstep, Sally finally sobers up long enough to remember a desperate request from Kate. Will she then uncover the truth about whether or not Kate’s experiences at their childhood home are real or imagined?

A dark, twisted and incredibly atmospheric tale, My Sister’s Bones is an intriguing mystery that is initially somewhat slow-paced but dramatically hurtles to a twist-filled and shocking conclusion. Nuala Ellwood’s extensive research and subsequent portrayal of the devastating effects of PTSD are hard-hitting and incredibly realistic. Kate is a sympathetic character whose intentions to expose the damages of war are noble and eventually take a horrific toll on her psyche.It is impossible to predict what direction the storyline is going until the absolutely jaw-dropping plot twist. From that point, the novel moves at a breakneck speed in the aftermath of stunning revelations. An outstanding debut that I highly recommend to fans of the genre.

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1 Comment

Filed under Contemporary, My Sister's Bones, Mystery, Nuala Ellwood, Rated B, Review, Suspense, William Morrow Paperbacks

One Response to Review: My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood

  1. Timitra

    Thanks for the rec Kathy