Hey mersquad coven! This weekend was really tough for me and I don’t think I was paying attention to what was going on for the blog so these may be showing up late. I’m sorry for that. Thank you so much to Harlequin Trade Publishing for having me on this blog tour.
In Hannah Mary McKinnon’s psychological thriller, SISTER DEAR (MIRA Trade; May 26, 2020; $17.99), the obsession of Single White Female meets the insidiousness of You, in a twisted fable about the ease of letting in those who wish us harm, and that mistake’s dire consequences.
The day he dies, Eleanor Hardwicke discovers her father – the only person who has ever loved her – is not her father. Instead, her biological father is a wealthy Portland businessman who wants nothing to do with her and to continue his life as if she doesn’t exist. That isn’t going to work for Eleanor.
Eleanor decides to settle the score. So, she befriends his daughter Victoria, her perfect, beautiful, carefree half-sister who has gotten all of life’s advantages while Eleanor has gotten none.
As she grows closer to Victoria, Eleanor’s obsession begins to deepen. Maybe she can have the life she wants, Victoria’s life, if only she can get close enough.
Hannah Mary McKinnon was born in the UK, grew up in Switzerland and moved to Canada in 2010. After a successful career in recruitment, she quit the corporate world in favor of writing, and is now the author of The Neighbors and Her Secret Son. She lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her husband and three sons, and is delighted by her twenty-second commute.
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Harlequin Trade Publishing, Netgalley, and MIRA Books for this free copy. All quotes in this review are taken from the Advanced Reader Copy and may change in final publication.
The idea of finding out that the person you thought was your father really wasn’t is absolutely heartbreaking. The fact that Eleanor had to find out on her “father’s” deathbed that the person that she thought was her father the entire time – well he did raise her so he was the father that actually meant something to her – wasn’t the father that had any sort of DNA tie to her and chose to pretty much abandon her for another family. I get that feeling and it’s painful to hear at any age, whether you’re a child or a grown adult like Eleanor is. It is also sad that Eleanor had to find out that she was the product of an affair, which is also another issue that she will have to deal with and process.
Then when Eleanor finds out that she has a half sister Victoria that has a seemingly perfect life that should have been hers, the real personality comes out to play. Things don’t turn out to be pretty, and that’s where the thriller part of the book shows its ugly head. Envy can be a real monster and it shows when this book starts to show Eleanor’s mental decline when she deals with her thoughts on Victoria and the differences between how they grew up.
I feel like this book got really intense and made me think about what would have happened if the shoe was on the other foot. Would Victoria have reacted the same way if she was in Eleanor’s place? Was Eleanor just really suffering from what happened with the loss of her father figure and jealous of what Victoria got to grow up with and dealing with everything else that happened in her life? And what would have happened if she had just talked with Victoria and made her feelings known rather than hid behind her jealousy?
I don’t know how to feel about this one, but I’ll definitely be thinking about this for a while.
Has there ever been a moment in your life that inspired one of your thriller novels?
No, I can honestly say that, thankfully, my books aren’t true crime! I do sprinkle little details here and there my family might recognize. Superman pajamas, a stuffed toy, those kinds of things, but otherwise I don’t pull from my life.
Which thriller author inspired you to get into this genre?
Jennifer Hillier. I was waiting for my son at our local library when I spotted her debut, Creep, on a shelf. Intrigued by the cover, I picked it up, read the blurb and took it home. I devoured it in a matter of days and it was career changing.
When I was younger, I mainly read thrillers, but after a personal tragedy in my early 20s, the only thing I could stomach was light-hearted reads. Creep reminded me of my love of thrillers, and I realized the second book I was working on, The Neighbors, was far grittier than my debut. Jennifer’s book gave me that final push I needed to cross over to the dark side. Fun fact: we live in the same town and have become great friends. Jennifer is an inspiration and fiercely talented, and I have all her books. I’ll read anything she writes!
When you’re not working on your latest novel, what do you like to do for fun?
I love getting outdoors for a hike, I’m a huge fan of the movies (I love the trailers!), I go to the gym and participate in a few obstacle runs in the summer (I live for the mud and obstacles, I’m rubbish at the running part). We have three teenage boys, so my husband and I spend time with them as often as they’ll let us. Watching films as a family is one of my favourite things. There’s something deeply comforting about us having a laugh together and just hanging out.
What kind of advice would you give to aspiring thriller READERS?
Try different sub-genres, of which there are many. Perhaps you love police procedurals, or psychological thrillers may fascinate you. Maybe you don’t want something overly graphic, so cozies might be to your taste, or alternatively you could go hard-boiled noir. I think some people have the impression thrillers are all blood, guts and gore, but that’s not the case. There’s something for everyone. Take Jill Orr, author of the Riley Ellison Mystery series. Sure, people die in her books, but her novels are laugh-out-loud funny. She’s a comedic genius.
What’s the one element of a thriller novel that is a MUST?
Plot twists and secrets. I want to be surprised when I’m reading a thriller, although that can be said for any genre, so I guess you need to throw in a dead body or two somewhere as well.
And there you have it, friends!