New books on the block: My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Published

Credit: Doubleday Publishing

Emily Hay
Books Columnist

Korede and Ayoola are sisters. Korede is an unremarkable, yet dedicated hospital nurse and Ayoola is a gorgeous social media star come fashion designer. Oh, and I almost forgot – she’s also a serial boyfriend killer. When Korede receives that confessional call from her sister for the third time, there’s no question on her lips or in her mind: she goes running armed with bleach and rags to soak up the evidence of Ayoola’s crimes. After all, they do say blood is thicker than water.

That is, until Ayoola sets her sights on Tade, the handsome young doctor who works with Korede, and whom she secretly harbours feelings for. Now, Korede is faced with a difficult choice: betray her beloved yet spoilt sister or let an innocent man go to his death. Will those family ties hold out?

Despite its enticing title, this novel is no crime thriller. Instead, Braithwaite explores the complexities of family relations and the simultaneous bitterness and responsibility the long-suffering Korede feels towards her younger sister. Korede’s descriptions of Ayoola force the reader to feel her stifled rage and jealousy towards her sister. Just because of her looks, Ayoola has always gotten away with things. Whenever she did something wrong, it was blamed on Korede who, as the elder sister, should have taught her better. As a reader, it is frustrating to watch Korede work herself to the bone whilst Ayoola always gets what she wants with ease – and casts things aside just as easily.

Yet, even Ayoola is not completely lacking in sympathy. The focus is rarely on her murderous tendencies; instead, we see her manipulation of the men around her as entertainingly fresh against the background of Lagos’ casually sexist society. Korede’s recollections of their abusive father, his punishments and attempts to abuse Ayoola’s beauty for his own gain, lends a sensitivity even to this serial murderess.

My Sister, the Serial Killer may be a short novel but it certainly packs a punch. It provokes questions about the nature of sisterhood and toxic family relationships whilst also painting a vividly real picture of its Lagos setting and characters. An addictive page-turner you won’t be sorry you picked up.