Book review: My Sister’s Bones By Nuala Ellwood


My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood (first published in 2017 by Penguin Random House)

About the book:

Kate Rafter is a successful war reporter. She’s the strong one. The one who escaped Herne Bay and the memories it holds. Her sister Sally didn’t. Instead, she drinks. But when their mother dies, Kate is forced to return to the old family home. And on her first night she is woken by a terrifying scream.

What secret has Kate stumbled upon? And is she strong enough to uncover the truth . . . and make it out alive? 


My Sister’s Bones is a fast-paced thriller filled with spine-chilling twists and turns. Even though I guessed most of the revelations, I was still very much drawn into the story and could not put it down. 

The way Nuala Ellwood wove all these different layers into the plot was incredible, and I honestly felt a little overwhelmed at one point with everything that was happening. She pulled me into the story and made me feel all the emotions right alongside her characters. 

There was one scene where I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up with what was about to come, and l was left utterly unsettled – in my mind that’s a box that demands to be checked with a thriller!

When you read the blurb you get a vague idea of what to expect from this book, which is always good since it’s better to go in not knowing too much. But when you read the story you genuinely have to piece together what’s happening because it takes a while for things to make sense. 

I thought this was a powerful technique to use in this book because the characters are also trying to sort out what’s happening and everyone is in the dark; confused about the past and how it links to the present.

That feeling like you are missing something vital is what connected me to these characters and what made me continue the story. I developed a craving to know what all those missing pieces meant and much like the main characters, I wouldn’t stop until I figured it out.

But I have to say, as compelling as this book was, the plot was not the only reason it got my stamp of approval… What really stood out for me while reading this book was the picture painted of the Middle East. 

In My Sister’s Bones Nuala Ellwood writes about these war-torn countries in a way that highlights the need to help instead of painting its people as terrorists.

I’ve lost count of how many books I’ve read where sympathy is given to the Western soldiers while the suffering of innocent civilians is completely overlooked; shadowed by the heroism of armed men. 

This book is important, if not for anything else then for this reason alone.

Finally, though the character of Nidal is fictional there are many, many children like him currently trapped and suffering in conflict zones around the world. If this novel does anything I hope that it highlights, in some small way, the pressing need to do what we can to help them and, to paraphrase the legendary war reporter Martha Gellhorn, ‘to make an angry sound against injustice.’ – Nuala Ellwood, My Sister’s Bones Acknowledgements

WATCH: How to write a crime novel by Nuala Ellwood

Read more of Nihaad’s reviews on her blog.

Purchase a copy of the book on

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