Book Review — My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinken Braithwaite
My Sister The Serial Killer By Oyinkan Braithwaite tells the story of two sisters with a shared sick secret. Korede, the narrator, is a plain, hardworking hospital nurse. Her sister Ayoola is a beautiful but deadly serial killer who has just stabbed a third boyfriend to death. The story explores Korede’s struggles as she tries to continue her normal working life, find love, and make peace with a traumatic past while Ayoola’s deadly habits start to get a little too close to home.
I read this in two sittings while visiting my sister (who luckily isn’t as twisted as Ayoola), which I think speaks volumes about how this novel sucks you in. It is unlike any other serial killer fiction I have read before, which is usually from the perspective of a sleuth, or the killer themselves. It mixes the anxiety of corroborating with a criminal with the deeply intense and loving relationship two sisters can develop.
It doesn’t put the two sisters at moral odds with one another, with one being an angel and the other a devil. Korede is ultimately enabling her sister to kill by cleaning up her dirty work, and despite her murderous urges, I found Ayoola to still be very charming and likeable, as does everyone else in the novel.
One thing that I did find a little frustrating is that every man that sets eyes on Ayoola turns into a love-struck pandering mess. This is possibly used to display how dangerous she is and leads to a bit of a twisted epiphany for Korede toward the end. Although I would have liked to have seen at least one man who wasn’t sucked in by her charm, perhaps even a little creeped out by her. A little like how an artist puts flecks of red in a green field to make the colour pop, it needed something to add a bit more contrast.
I would have liked to have seen more of the relationships between Ayoola and her victims. The novel makes use of flashbacks during their childhood, so I think it would have been interesting to see some flashbacks of Ayoola and her unlucky ex-boyfriends. Braithwaite could have perhaps shown how “madly in love” they were to juxtapose with their violent ends. But who knows, maybe that would have been a little bit overkill (pardon the pun).
It is hinted throughout the story that their toxically close bond stems from a traumatic childhood, which at first glance is a little cliché. It leans into the stereotype that a bad relationship with a parent can lead to bad romantic relationships. However, I still think that it adds some depth into the sisters’ story and explains why Ayoola treats men the way she does, and why Korede protects her.
All in all, this novel is a punchy, well-written, twisted tale that I really enjoyed reading. I hope that other writers of serial killer fiction take note that it doesn’t have to always be paragraphs upon paragraphs of anti-heroes ruminating on their moral codes and lack of humanity (I’m looking at you, Jeff Lindsey).