June 3rd, 2014

rotting doll.

Review: The Sister by Poppy Adams

The Sister
by Poppy Adams

After living alone for nearly fifty years, Ginny is thrilled to learn that her sister Vivien is moving home to join her in the ancestral manor. A reclusive loner obsessed with her research into the study of moths, Ginny looks forward to returning to the close bond the sisters shared as children. Instead, Ginny’s world is turned topsy-turvy as Vivien’s presence disrupts the carefully-plotted routines that define her life. The more the sisters talk, the more apparent it becomes that their memories of childhood are wildly divergent. Ginny soon comes to regret her sister’s arrival, and begins to wonder what can be done to restore her former solitary lifestyle…

Ginny is the narrator, addressing the reader directly as ‘you’ in a confidential, direct manner. As the book progresses, it becomes clear that she suffers from some sort of mental disorder. I’d guess autism, likely Asperger’s, because her lack of empathy, inability to read other people’s emotions, and her obsession with routine and time all seem to match characteristics of people with that diagnosis. These symptoms all show up in the way she treats moths. She’s obsessed with them, and knows so much about them, but there’s a coldness to her that’s almost inhumane as she describes ways to kill them in the hundreds and thousands. Ginny also seems somewhat delusional, proudly proclaiming that she’s a famous lepidopterist several times to the reader. It seems plausible until a few prodding questions from her sister quickly reveal that Ginny’s prominence in the field is a fantasy.

If you’ve ever wondered about lepidoptery, Ginny will tell you more than you ever wanted to know. It’s pretty freakin’ boring at times. You could skim those passages and miss nothing.

The book is creepy, and not just because of the narrator. The labyrinthine house looms large in its Gothic glory, with entire rooms filled to the brim with moth-catching equipment, covered in dust. Ginny, never much of a housekeeper, has let entire wings go back to nature, and the descriptions of the crumbling, moldering mansion create a perfectly horrible atmosphere. It’s a good reflection of the deterioration of the relationship of Ginny and Vivien, and the perfect setting for the chilling finale.

I listened to the audio version of the book, and narrator Juliet Mills did an amazing job of capturing Ginny's voice, drawing the listener in even as her words reveal her unsteady character.

3.5 out of 5 stars

To read more about The Sister, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2013: The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro
2012: Fashionista Piranha on vacation until June 9th
2011: Fashionista Piranha will be on hiatus for a while
2010: Fireworks over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stepakoff
2009: The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory