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

my sister, the serial killer_My Sister, the Serial Killer features two archetypal sisters – the pretty one and the sensible one. Korede, a conscientious and competent nurse, comes to the rescue of  the beautiful and charismatic Ayoola when she murders a boyfriend (again).

This opening section of the novel is brilliant. We see the sleek minimalism of the victim, Femi’s, apartment, violated by his own blood, and get a chillingly detailed account of how Korede cleans up and disposes of the body (turns out I’ve been using bleach wrong all these years).

Later, we see how Ayoola is oblivious to the trauma she has inflicted. When Korede objects to her posting selfies to Instagram at the point where she is supposed to be mourning for her ‘missing’ boyfriend, she is genuinely bewildered.  Korede continues to cover for her, even when Ayoola begins to turn up at the hospital where she works and dazzle the doctor Korede is in love with.

I liked the voice and the humour and the dynamic between the two sisters. My slight disappointment with the novel is that it never moves beyond the predictable. It doesn’t have the twists and the drama of a thriller, but nor does it have the depth of a psychological novel.

There is great poignancy in Korede’s reflections on Femi and his poetry (which was gorgeous, I’d have liked more of that!) and in her feeling the only person she can talk to is a comatose patient, but these elements of the story aren’t followed through. Instead, we got some backstory which suggests, not quite convincingly, how the sisters may have become who they are, and a downbeat ending.

My Sister, the Serial Killer is a stylish and atmospheric short novel, shot through with dark comedy. It’s an entertaining read, but it didn’t quite have the edge I was hoping for.

I received a copy of My Sister, the Serial Killer from the publisher via Netgalley.
View My Sister, the Serial Killer on Goodreads

Like Nigerian fiction? Take a look at my review of Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo


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