Catherine Chanter – The Half Sister (3 stars)

Catherine Chanter – The Half Sister

Eerie, page-turning family thriller with a haunting setting

The death of their mother brings two very different, estranged half-sisters together but tragedy strikes before reconciliation can occur. When wealthy Diana maliciously locks her visiting sibling overnight in a tower bedroom, it crashes to the ground in the midst of an earthquake.

Mikey, Diana's eight-year-old nephew and her sudden responsibility, witnesses the disaster and is intent on bringing the truth of his aunt's guilt to light, but he refuses to speak, silently bonding with uncle Edmund over fishing trips to the river and amassing an army of toy circus animals. The Half Sister by Catherine Chanter darkly unfolds with family secrets, moral complexities and slow-burning revenge within the haunting setting of Wynhope House.

At times, the backstory is hammered out bluntly, and Diana's capacity for evil strays into caricature, but the emergence of Edmund's paternal feelings for vulnerable Mikey strikes the right note. This young boy's journey of personal growth beyond the difficulties in his past is the emotional backbone of an eerie, page-turning family thriller.

Out Thu 5 Apr, published by Canongate.

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