Book Review: My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Title: My Sister, the Serial Killer
Author: Oyinkan Braithwaite
Released: November 20, 2018 (Kindle)
Series: N/A
Rating: ★★★★☆

Description“Femi makes three, you know. Three and they label you a serial killer.”

Korede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead. Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood, the trunk of her car is big enough for a body, and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures of her dinner to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.

A kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where Korede works, is the bright spot in her life. She dreams of the day when he will realize they’re perfect for each other. But one day, Ayoola shows up to the hospital uninvited and he takes notice. When he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and what she will do about it.

Sharp as nails and full of deadpan wit, Oyinkan Braithwaite has written a deliciously deadly debut that’s as fun as it is frightening.

Please keep in mind that this review contains spoilers for the entire book. Read with caution. If you click the “Read More”, it is under the assumption you either don’t care about spoilers or you’ve already read the book.

As an older sister, I realize that there’s a lot of responsibility to your younger sibling (in my case, my younger brother). As a reader, I understand that I may not always agree with the culture I read, and I should remember that sometimes art is a criticism and not something that’s glorified. Or it can be neither of those things and can be a fun romp of humor and murder.

However, I will say outright that the humor, at least after a quip or two, that was lost on me after a while. Instead, what I read was the plight of an older sister whose younger sibling’s shadowed over her and her ultimate decision to protect the younger sibling or to choose a man’s life who wanted nothing to do with her, for as much as she loved him. It did feel as though Korede was more frightened and torn about her sister’s murdering spree and her attempts to protect the doctor she has a crush on, at least until they meet.

The book is reasonably short, but it isn’t traditionally chaptered. Instead, they’re labeled with a single word or theme of the blocks of text, but because of the minimalist aspect of it, it fits. I do wish that this is longer so I can see Korede break the cycle of death or at least the aftermath of Tade’s suspension, but I also understand why it ended the way it did.

The fact of the matter is that Korede has always been responsible for Ayoola, always for worse. There’s a lot of pressure from different characters, saving from Muthar and the kindness that Korede forced out of her life, for Korede to get married only but because Ayoola seems to swoop in and take center stage. In every aspect of Korede’s life, it appeared that Ayoola’s in there, full front and center. The irony isn’t lost on me that Korede is a nurse, and Ayoola is a YouTube influencer-slash-fashion designer who works from home.

Korede does her best to keep Ayoola out of her work life as much as she can, especially when she has such an interest in Doctor Tade. He really does seem the kind and wonderful man Korede idolized until Ayoola rams herself in that life and “took him away.” I can understand that people felt as though Korede should’ve stepped up for herself and said that she liked him. But would it have made a difference? Would Ayoola have stopped if Korede said anything? Then again, to me, Ayoola was more aware than what Korede realized, which leads me to my next point.

One thing that a lot of readers tend to forget, and that includes me, is that the first-person point of view is limited on purpose. While I would love to see other points of view and see these sisters’ relationships on the outside, this allowed me to figure out on my own on how especially Korede appears to others. I honestly do think that Korede does put herself on a pedestal especially because she’s the dutiful daughter who still lives at home with her mother and sister; more importantly, how she helps her sister clean up the murders.

From the flashbacks scattered in the story, there are some implications about the death of their political father. When it came to her sister, Korede is very upfront about things. In her mind, she’ll call others out not just based on their actions and their past with her, but by what she observes of others. She always seems to want to strive to be “better” than others (or in this case, her sister). I do like how the sibling’s relationship is parallel to their aunt and their dead father. Although I do realize it’s a bit more subtle than other types of novellas (or novels or what have you), this is something that’s appreciated, and it’s something I noticed at the end.

Initially, I was getting the feeling that Ayoola was cruel on her own and took the abuses she received from her father (especially that scene with the chief, that was terrifying in itself for me) and killed these men because of that abuse. However, the further in we go into the flashbacks, the more I start to realize that Korede had always been for her sister. She had always devoted to her sister in just about every aspect of her life other than possibly being a nurse.

I also liked the relationship between her and Muthar; the coma patient Korede confessed to until he woke up. From there, he woke up to family wanting something or other from him when he just opened his eyes. The family was initially suspicious of Korede, and she herself couldn’t understand his attachment to her, even though he knew just about every murder Ayoola committed. Still, he did not judge Korede for it. He tried to reach out to Korede and gave her his number. I think a general feeling I got when she burned his number and to continue Ayoola’s murderous cycle, Korede didn’t want to be saved. Perhaps she felt that “all men were alike,” and she thought that because Tade was the one who drove the knife into Ayoola, instead of the other way around, that all she needed was her sister. Men couldn’t be trusted. Men were only after one thing.

To Korede, love is a novel concept. The love she has for sister could be considered different and strange, but Korede is the older sister. I can understand the disappointment about the ending, but I do hope that Korede does break that cycle one day and instead, turn to the authorities to not just free the sins of her sister, but Femi and the others who rotted in that blue lagoon.

About Lily

A fujoshi who won't shut up about anime, manga, video games, BJDs, nendoroids, and anime conventions. She apparently can't stop writing either.

Posted on August 19, 2020, in ★★★★☆ – 4 Stars, Book Reviews, Book Series, Oneshots and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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