Wednesday 31 May 2017

Little Sister by Isabel Ashdown @IsabelAshdown @TrapezeBooks @orionbooks #LittleSisterBook #DearSister

After sixteen years apart sisters Jessica and Emily are reunited. With the past now behind them, the warmth they once shared quickly returns and before long Jess has moved into Emily's comfortable island home. 
Life couldn't be better. But when baby Daisy disappears while in Jess's care, the perfect life Emily has so carefully built starts to fall apart.
Was Emily right to trust her sister after everything that happened before?

Little Sister by Isabel Ashdown is published in paperback by Trapeze Books on 27 July 2017, the ebook was published on 27 April 2017.

I've always enjoyed Isabel Ashdown's writing, and my reviews of two of her previous novels are here on Random Things; Summer of 76 (July 2013) and Flight (May 2015).  I was very curious to read Little Sister, as it is clear that the author's new publisher is marketing her as an author of thrillers. Little Sister has the tag line "a gripping twisty thriller about family secrets and betrayals". I was really hoping that this was not going to be yet another psychological thriller, with a dark cover and small children on the cover, much the same as hundreds of other books currently on sale.

Yes, it does have a dark cover, and yes there are a couple of kids on the front, but this really is so much more than a bog-standard thriller story as once again Isabel Ashdown has carefully and cleverly created a cast of dysfunctional and tightly woven characters. These lead characters are the glue that holds the story together; each one of them is potentially unreliable and incredibly compelling.

The three-page prologue is shocking and draws the reader in immediately, the scene stays there, teasing and haunting as the story progresses. The first part of Little Sister is narrated alternately by sisters Jess and Emily. Reunited after many years of separation, the death of their mother has brought them back together. Emily welcomes the prodigal Jess into her family and Jess becomes invaluable as she takes on the task of minding Emily's toddler daughter Daisy, and is a listening ear to Emily's step-daughter Chloe. James, Emily's older husband welcomes Jess too.  Then Daisy disappears whilst in the care of Jess who had one of her 'turns', and as the search for the child becomes more desperate, the long-hidden secrets of the sisters relationship begin to seep through into the present.

Don't expect a police procedural story in Little Sister, in fact don't even expect to find parents weeping and wailing about their lost daughter. This story has none of that, and at first, I found that quite strange. Daisy's parents, whilst frightened and worried, appeared to be more concerned about themselves, and their relationships. This is the strength of the story, and showcases Isabel Ashdown's skilful writing perfectly. Her ability to untangle a character, to lay them bare, to expose them is outstanding, and the story really is about how the actions of the past, and the lengths taken to hide these can impact for years to come.

Little Sister is twisty, just as the tagline says, but the twists are unpredictable and out of the ordinary. The reader will doubt the characters, the reader will actually doubt themselves at times, as more surprises and shocks are uncovered, and loyalties alter and temperatures rise.

Shrewd and emotionally fraught, Isabel Ashdown has produced a memorable and powerful novel that is both unsettling and compelling. Highly recommended.

Isabel Ashdown was born in London and grew up on the Sussex coast. Her award-winning debut GLASSHOPPER (Myriad, 2009) was twice named as one of the best books of the year, and she now writes full-time, walks daily, and volunteers in a local school for the charity Pets as Therapy. She was recently appointed Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Chichester.

Isabel is represented by Kate Shaw of the Viney Literary Agency, London. See more at or follow her on Twitter @IsabelAshdown

1 comment:

  1. I love the look of this book, I saw the cover a while back. One to add to my never ending tbr pile! Xx