“My Sister, The Serial Killer” by Oyinkan Braithwaite

I love a good mystery. I love reading in general, but, it has been a long time since I have done so much reading for pleasure. I didn’t used to have these strange vacations from reading, but entering university, completing university, left me with little time to read for pleasure. January 2019 has seen me read four books in a month, and Oyinkan Baithwaite’s “My Sister, The Serial Killer” was the most recent reading journey.

This novella is razor sharp, make for a quick read but also a quick and brutal punch to the gut. Oyinkan’s prose style is sparse, but this does not mean it is lacking in either style or quiet horror.

The novel tells the story of Korede, a nurse working in a hospital in Lagos, Nigeria who finds herself in the delicate position of having to clean up after her younger sister Ayoola’s murders. Ayoola is beautiful, stylish, and desirable by men, and she has a bad habit of killing the men who date her, and she carries a sharp knife in her purse, one that had been brandished by their deceased father.

On the very surface level of this story, you see a standard version of criminal keep away, and intrigue, but lurking below is a feminist story of escaping the patriarchy, of women clawing and stabbing their way into freedom. This story also touches on inter generational abuse, mental illness, confession, love, and of course death.

At 181 pages the story is very succinct and tight – there are no wasted words. The style of prose remains hip and fresh, including internet hashtags and references to popular culture.

As someone who has only ever seen Nigeria in photos and on the television, I found myself very interested in the Nigerian culture that is described in the book, various foods, clothing and other pieces of a culture that is foreign to my own.

I found myself identifying with Korede’s sense of duty, responsibility, and accountability, and also identifying with the aloof brutality of Ayoola, who despite her serial killer trappings relies on her sister for support.

Korede’s unrequited love for a young physician at the hospital she works at, prompts Ayoola to woo the very same physician and leave Korede concerned for his safety, and the impeccably written plot takes many twists as Korede is confronted with a decision we all have to make at some time. Is blood really thicker than water?

I appreciated the nods to a lot of the family horror dynamic that seems very in vogue lately. I thought his book was so well written and much like the Nigerian climate described – hot. If you miss out on this one, you’re fucking up.

Oyinkan Braithwaite

Available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca and also from Penguin Random House Publishing

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