This was a fun read, in a twisted way. I enjoyed the writing style, the pace, the settings and the characterisation. It’s also fairly short for a novel, which ensures you can whizz through it in one day.
The story is narrated by Korede, a hospital nurse from a middle class family in Lagos, Nigeria. She’s a precise, efficient type. This comes in handy whenever her younger sister, Ayoola, murders someone. Blood is thicker than water, as people say. Korede helps her sister to clean up, dispose of the bodies and lie to the police. This isn’t a spoiler, it’s clear from the start that this is the premise of the book – and an unusual one, I think. You already know who the serial killer is. What you’re keen to find out is, what will be the result of Korede covering up for Ayoola? There is obviously tension between them. The elder sister is always under pressure to look after the younger one. The character of Ayoola is one of those attention-seekers who feel a sense of entitlement for being young and beautiful. She attracts (and murders) one boyfriend after another. Meanwhile, Korede is unattractive and stern. There is only one man she desires, but unfortunately her sister is going to steal him. Will that change Korede’s attitude towards her sister?
Interweaved with this story are flashbacks to the girls’ childhoods, where their dominating and abusive father held absolute power in the household. There are clues as to why Ayoola acts the way she does. Their warm-hearted but ineffectual mother blames the elder sister when the younger one does anything wrong. My only criticism of this book is that the ‘house girl’, the family’s servant, should have had a better role in the story. She’s mentioned quite often and I thought she’d become involved in the plot, but she really is just a servant without a name.
A brilliant debut novel and I look forward to reading more from Oyinkan Braithwaite in the future.
First published in 2018. Shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019.