Sister of Mine by Laurie Petrou #BookReview #BlogTour

Two sisters. One fire. A secret that won't burn out.

The Grayson sisters are trouble. Everyone in their small town knows it. But no-one can know of the secret that binds them together.  

Hattie is the light. Penny is the darkness. Together, they have balance.

But one night the balance is toppled. A match is struck. A fire is started. A cruel husband is killed. The potential for a new life flickers in the fire's embers, but resentment, guilt, and jealousy suffocate like smoke. 

Their lives have been engulfed in flames - will they ever be able to put them out?

It's my pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for Sisters of Mine by Laurie Petrou today. Many thanks to the author, No Exit Press and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

The fire which lies at the heart of Sister of Mine is the perfect metaphor for this slow-burning psychological drama. After the raging inferno which killed Penny's abusive husband, the aftermath of that fateful night leads to a smouldering tension, constantly threatening to ignite and destroy everything in its path.
The early chapters of the book suggest a close bond between Penny and her little sister, Hattie, perhaps due in part to their father's leaving. There are only childhood glimpses of the adult world, seen through the young Penny's eyes but the raised voices and harsh whispers imply a scandal which tarnishes the whole family. At first, it would seem that any animosity between the sisters is merely due to typical sibling rivalry but when Penny moves away from home, an undercurrent of jealousy gradually becomes more apparent, although just who is more envious of who is less clear. Their mother's sudden death gives rise to further cruel words but her loss also serves to underline that without her steadying influence, they desperately need one another.
I couldn't help but feel for Penny who sacrifices her own plans to move back home and then in what is almost certainly an attempt to recreate her idea of a family, marries local boy, Buddy. We never really meet her husband as a character but through her recollections of him, and through the actions of his best friend, Mac, it is only too obvious that he was a violent bully. His death comes as a blessed relief for Penny, freeing her from the escalating abuse but as the novel progresses it becomes evident that she has swapped one prison for a different one. Penny and Hattie both attempt to move on with their lives but theirs is a relationship tainted by secrets and lies and like smoke infiltrating every corner of a house, so the resentment between them eventually threatens to poison even that which is good in their lives.
They become progressively choked by the claustrophobia which comes from living in a small town where everybody knows about their pasts and the story crackles with a nervous energy which suggests something or somebody will eventually snap. Penny is arguably the more sympathetic character who is forced to adapt her hopes and dreams time and again for the more selfish, fragile Hattie but the story is told from her perspective and there are little moments where her mask slips, her own actions are called into doubt  and questions are raised as to whether her recollections are the full truth.
Sister of Mine has a strong, character-led narrative and an increasingly sinister plot which explores the complicated bonds of a sibling relationship held together and driven apart by love, guilt and jealousy. Laurie Petrou's future certainly burns bright and I'm very much looking forward to following her writing career after thoroughly enjoying this excellent debut.

Sister of Mine is published by No Exit Press, purchasing links can be found here.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Laurie Petrou is an author, maker, educator, tea drinker and avid reader. Sister of Mine is her debut novel. She lives in a small town in Ontario with her husband and their two sons, amongst a community that is often weaved into her writing. Petrou is an Associate Professor at Ryerson University's RTA School of Media in Toronto, where she is also the Director of the Masters of Media Production program. She was the inaugural winner of the Half the World Global Literati Award in 2016, a prize that honours unpublished work featuring female protagonists, for her novel Sister of Mine.
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