My Sister's Bones
Date Published09 February 2017
Price£ 12.99

My Sister's Bones

by Nuala Ellwood

Kate Rafter is a successful war correspondent who returns to her childhood home in Herne Bay. Something had gone wrong in her past and her helpful brother-in-law seems to be the most likely person to help.


This book takes you into the troubled mind of Kate Rafter, a successful and ostensibly hardened war correspondent who clearly experienced significant trauma in Aleppo, trouble she is unwilling to discuss or even to acknowledge to herself, outside of her nightmares. She later returns to Herne Bay, her childhood home, to empty and close up her recently deceased mother’s house. However, Herne Bay is haunted with memories for her, of her troubled relationship with her dead father, her uncomfortable relationship with her alcoholic sister and her attentive and thoughtful brother-in-law.

Past and present become intertwined in Kate’s mind as she believes she sees a small boy in her mother’s garden. Her insistence that there is something strange going on next door results in her being questioned at the police station, at risk of being sectioned herself.

The story is written in the first person narrative and allows the reader to share Kate’s thoughts as her troubled memories untangle themselves. Interestingly, in the second section of the book, the voice of the narrator switches to Kate’s sister, Sally. Now privy to her sister’s thoughts your understanding and perception shifts, which revitalises the story and adds new twists to the plot.

Descriptions of place are handled as well as desertion of emotion. The home of childhood is dark and sad. Aleppo is bleak and you can almost taste the dust and feel the heat, in sharp contrast to the damp cold Britishness of Herne Bay.

This is a dark tale. Kate’s experiences in childhood, war zones and back in Herne Bay are not happy. Her relationships, past and present are troubled, yet there remains a tone of optimism that makes you want her to succeed and gain the peace that she deserves.

The book is interesting and engaging. The twists in the plot are sometimes surprising as is the final denouement. Although at times I felt that the pace was rather slow, the interest level was sustained and I was keen to find out the truth behind Kate’s story.

Reviewed 18 February 2017 by John Barnbrook