The Sister, Poppy Adams’ debut novel, is a dark, eerie story. The novel opens at Bulburrow Court, an old manor and family home, with 70ish Ginny waiting for the arrival of her younger sister Vivi, whom she has not seen for nearly 50 years. Why have they been separated? Why has Vivi come back? Is she looking for something? Which sister is THE sister of the title? The suspense kept me reading page after page, looking for answers.
We notice almost immediately that Ginny is a bit ‘off’. She’s hyper-focused on time, wearing two wristwatches and constantly checking them against her many other clocks. Her tea must be just so and she can’t drink it if it’s made by someone else. It takes her 55 minutes to make her bed and arrange her sheets meticulously. Her weird ways are doled out liberally throughout the story, giving the impression that all is not right with our narrator. Vivi, on the other hand, seems the more normal of the two, but there are still questions..
Adams weaves details of the past with the present in alternating chapters. But are things as they appear? What really happened at the bell tower and on the cellar steps? Lots of questions are raised, but few are answered, leaving the reader a little frustrated and forced to speculate on what is really going on here.
There is a strange sense of foreboding, mystery and suspense coursing through the entire novel, mixed in with an extensive amount of scientific detail about moths. Moths? Why, yes.. Ginny is a World Famous Lepidopterist. At least, she is world famous in her own mind.
Decades old family secrets begin to unravel and our narrator, so level headed and scientific (again, in her own mind) starts coming unglued. The disturbance in her routine brought on by Vivi’s arrival is so unsettling that she finds herself spying on her, following her around, listening in doorways, and becoming increasingly obsessive in her behaviors. The tension builds continuously and by the last few chapters I was on the edge of my seat wanting to know what was going to happen.
Each chapter has a short descriptive title and there is a table of contents, which I love. The Sister is very well written and I predict we will see more of Poppy Adams in the future. I look forward to that.