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Nuala Ellwood Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

My Sister's Bones (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Nuala Ellwood is an English author of psychological thriller novels and the daughter of an award winning journalist. Ellwood was inspired by the experiences of his father as a journalist and those of foreign correspondents the likes of Martha Gellhorn and Marie Colvin to secure Art Council funding for her studies into PTSD for her first novel My Sisters Bones.

My Sister’s Bones

My Sister’s Bones is the debut novel by Nuala Ellwood. The book introduces Kate Rafter, a world class conflict correspondent, and journalist who has spent several years covering the war in Syria. She has been in conflict and seen far too many times. However, her latest experiences in Syria have formed new scars and even deepened the old ones. There was a serious question on whether she could see everything together when she is back in London. But she is always haunted by her experiences in Syria. She can hear screaming, voices all inside her mind. The images that flash through her mind, those of destruction are too much severe for any sober mind to carry for long without collapsing under the pressure. What haunts her most is the death of a young boy in Aleppo, and of course in her family, everyone seems to be having issues just like her.

Sally Rafter, is Kate’s sister who did not manage to get out, she is spiteful and an alcoholic. She was already troubled when her daughter vanished a few years before. Then after this, her life came down pretty fast, and the hatred for her older sister became unbearable.

The two Rafter sisters finally come to their addictions which were highly contributed by some several factors. For instance, their dad was a mean alcoholic who consistently beat his wife. Their mother, on the other hand, had issues of her own, she was an alcoholic, and this kept her from dragging their abusive father before the law or maybe smashing his skull with a metal object. But fortunately, the youngest of the three siblings did not lead their way into addiction or have to cope with the dysfunction for he did not survive to see his second birthday.

Now Kate is back in her home town of Herne Bay after the death of her mom. She and her mother were not close for an extended period, and while staying in their old home, she starts seeing things. Did she see a boy in the garden or was it her Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and drug fueled hallucinations? But she is convinced that she indeed saw a boy in a neighbor’s yard and that it is not one of her hallucinations. Her neighbor is an Iraq immigrant woman who insists that there is no boy. However, Kate suspects something fishy going on. On the other hand, Sally’s husband is trying his level best to help Kate overcome the family stresses. However, everything may not be what it seems to be in this small town of Herne Bay. What could be the nature of the ghosts that always haunt Kate? Was what she saw real or it was just her hallucinations?

The only person who appears to be sane in this land of illusion is Sally’s husband, Paul. He is a responsible young man who manages to take good care of the two sisters as they undergo their most difficult and challenging moments in their lives. He is willing to take every step with them as they work their way out through their childhood abuses, post traumatic stress disorder and also as they mend their broken relationship. It is always good to see a man who is willing to bear the weights, the ups and downs in a marriage for this is what creates strong bonds in relationships leading to stable marriages.

The imagery of Aleppo, Syria is shocking, haunting. This is a good example that shows that even the journalist out there in the crossfire can suffer the same effect that affects the soldiers in battle and even get killed in the process. Whatever happened to Kate while in Syria quickly explains her PTSD and how she ends up being the person she is.

The subject matter of this story is heart breaking cruel and harsh- so it is advisable that if you are sensitive to these scenes of physical and psychological abuse or even the depictions of war- then be aware of these possible triggers in the story most of which are featured in the first half of the novel. Sally hates her sister Kate only because she believes that she was her mother’s favorite child such that even when Kate offers her assistance, she refuses to the point where Kate feels hopeless and helpless.

It is apparently clear that the author Nuala Ellwood has done extensive research on PTSD and its impacts as well. The author was much taken with the experiences of foreign correspondents such as Martha Gellhorn and Marie Colvin, and it’s no surprise that her father was a bestselling journalist. Ellwood received a grant to study PTSD and has incorporated what she studied in class into writing this novel. The most rewarding aspect of My Sister’s Bones is that it gives you an insight of the human element of war more so for the locals, noncombatants, and the outsiders.

Several elements perfectly fit into the psychological suspense story. Then there is the mystery that needs to be solved in this brilliant novel, and we get to see how it is unraveled step by step. Reading the book, you will get to know about Kate’s past from prolonged sessions with a cop shrink when she is arrested for reasons which are revealed toward the end of the novel. The first section of the book alternates between chapters of interrogation which serves to explain Kates history. The central character, Kate finally demonstrates extreme courage, and this makes us (readers) care more about her even though at the time she makes some questionable decisions.

My Sister’s Bones is a well woven, tension filled psychological thriller. During the first few pages it is steadily paced, but as the story picks up, the pace and action intensify.

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