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The Wicked Sister

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She thought she'd buried her past. But what if it's been hunting her this whole time? From the bestselling and award-winning author of The Marsh King's Daughter comes a startling novel of psychological suspense as two generations of sisters try to unravel their tangled relationships between nature and nurture, guilt and betrayal, love and evil. You have been cut off from She thought she'd buried her past. But what if it's been hunting her this whole time? From the bestselling and award-winning author of The Marsh King's Daughter comes a startling novel of psychological suspense as two generations of sisters try to unravel their tangled relationships between nature and nurture, guilt and betrayal, love and evil. You have been cut off from society for fifteen years, shut away in a mental hospital in self-imposed exile as punishment for the terrible thing you did when you were a child. But what if nothing about your past is as it seems? And if you didn't accidentally shoot and kill your mother, then whoever did is still out there. Waiting for you. For a decade and a half, Rachel Cunningham has chosen to lock herself away in a psychiatric facility, tortured by gaps in her memory and the certainty that she is responsible for her parents' deaths. But when she learns new details about their murders, Rachel returns, in a quest for answers, to the place where she once felt safest: her family's sprawling log cabin in the remote forests of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. As Rachel begins to uncover what really happened on the day her parents were murdered, she learns—as her mother did years earlier—that home can be a place of unspeakable evil, and that the bond she shares with her sister might be the most poisonous of all.


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She thought she'd buried her past. But what if it's been hunting her this whole time? From the bestselling and award-winning author of The Marsh King's Daughter comes a startling novel of psychological suspense as two generations of sisters try to unravel their tangled relationships between nature and nurture, guilt and betrayal, love and evil. You have been cut off from She thought she'd buried her past. But what if it's been hunting her this whole time? From the bestselling and award-winning author of The Marsh King's Daughter comes a startling novel of psychological suspense as two generations of sisters try to unravel their tangled relationships between nature and nurture, guilt and betrayal, love and evil. You have been cut off from society for fifteen years, shut away in a mental hospital in self-imposed exile as punishment for the terrible thing you did when you were a child. But what if nothing about your past is as it seems? And if you didn't accidentally shoot and kill your mother, then whoever did is still out there. Waiting for you. For a decade and a half, Rachel Cunningham has chosen to lock herself away in a psychiatric facility, tortured by gaps in her memory and the certainty that she is responsible for her parents' deaths. But when she learns new details about their murders, Rachel returns, in a quest for answers, to the place where she once felt safest: her family's sprawling log cabin in the remote forests of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. As Rachel begins to uncover what really happened on the day her parents were murdered, she learns—as her mother did years earlier—that home can be a place of unspeakable evil, and that the bond she shares with her sister might be the most poisonous of all.

30 review for The Wicked Sister

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dorie - Cats&Books :)

    ***NOW AVAILABLE*** Trigger warning: I deducted 1* for what I felt was overly descriptive animal cruelty I definitely enjoyed this ride of a book. At times I liked it, loved it, then didn’t like it, but in the end it was a very good story. We have two POV’s, Jenny, from the past. She is the mother of Diana and Rachel, they live in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and I loved the descriptive writing of the background and atmosphere of the book. An immense lodge built by Jenny’s great-great grandfather bec ***NOW AVAILABLE*** Trigger warning: I deducted 1* for what I felt was overly descriptive animal cruelty I definitely enjoyed this ride of a book. At times I liked it, loved it, then didn’t like it, but in the end it was a very good story. We have two POV’s, Jenny, from the past. She is the mother of Diana and Rachel, they live in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and I loved the descriptive writing of the background and atmosphere of the book. An immense lodge built by Jenny’s great-great grandfather becomes the family home. This sounds like a museum, again the descriptions were wonderful, I could actually picture this lodge and get a feel for it. Jenny thought “a hunting lodge in the middle of four thousand wilderness acres sounds just about perfect to me” . . . “A wild child living in the woods. What could be more appropriate”. So they think this is a great place to raise their two daughters, one of which they know has psychiatric problems. The parents are also hesitant to admit to themselves how sick Diana is. They make excuses and downplay or self deny that Diana has severe enough mental disease that she should be institutionalized,have constant psychiatric care, etc. This part of the descriptions of the parents was somewhat hard to believe since they are educated biologists and understand human nature, etc. But it’s fiction so I went with it. We open in the Present with Rachel, a 26 woman, while she is talking to a spider in her room.She has had the ability to talk to all animals, insects etc since she was very young. She has been in a mental institution for 15 years. She’s there for several reasons, she either witnessed her parents getting killed and was traumatized or she committed the crime and can’t or won’t admit it. Further, most attempts at psychiatric therapy and medication failed to help Rachel. She’s convinced that she killed her parents -- until a young journalist arrives on the scene. He wants to tell Rachel’s story, Trevor’s the name and remember it as he will have an important part in the story later!! He starts digging into facts and some surprising and interesting facts are revealed, yes a very good part!! The other point of view is that of Jenny, told as Past Time. Jenny is a hard woman to understand. On the one hand she is loving, caring, educated, intelligent and yet she and her husband make so many ridiculous mistakes, I just wanted to SHAKE THEM!!!!!!!!!!!! The past starts with Jenny finding a toddler face down in their pool. Efforts at resuscitation failed. No one knew how the little boy had gotten through a locked gate and made it to the pool so quickly. We learn about Diana and Rachel’s early years. Jenny’s sister, Charlotte, comes to help with the kids, cook, etc, but mainly to always keep an eye on Diana. Is she a help or is she too enchanted with Diana? Well no more of the plot, you’ll just have to read it, and I hope that you will. If you liked The Marsh King’s daughter you will love this one. I think the former is still my favorite. I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through Edelweiss. This novel is set to publish on August 4, 2020

  2. 4 out of 5

    marilyn

    Publication: August 4th 2020 The Wicked Sister, by Karen Dionne, had me captivated at first, but in the end, all the mutilation and death of animals and humans, young and old, was too much for me. I enjoy Dionne's way with words and her story but the details were too much, too vivid, too real. Having said that, this book has a fairy tale quality to it, not like the modern, sanitized fairy tales but the dark, brutal, gory versions of fairy tales. One character can even talk to animals and insects Publication: August 4th 2020 The Wicked Sister, by Karen Dionne, had me captivated at first, but in the end, all the mutilation and death of animals and humans, young and old, was too much for me. I enjoy Dionne's way with words and her story but the details were too much, too vivid, too real. Having said that, this book has a fairy tale quality to it, not like the modern, sanitized fairy tales but the dark, brutal, gory versions of fairy tales. One character can even talk to animals and insects and they talk back to her.  The story begins with the murder/suicide of 11 year old Rachel's parents, or at least Rachel's faulty memory of the event. Rachel is now 26 and in a psychiatric facility, never wanting to leave because she thinks she is responsible for her parents death and being locked up is just punishment. But when she finds out that she could not have killed either of her parents, she has herself released from the facility, to confront her older sister and aunt, who allowed her to hold on to her guilt and stay locked up. Rachel goes to the family's remote 4000 acre estate, with it's huge log cabin, hoping that being in the place of her parent's death will allow her to regain her memories of what happened that day.  We also see the story from the eyes of Jenny, mother of Rachel and psychopathic Diane. From early in Diane's life, her parents knew that she was a danger to every living thing but they refused to act on that knowledge in a way that would save humans and animals. Instead they moved to the remote family property and eventually fostered an obsession of taxidermy, in an effort to channel Diane's killing ways into something that gave her actions a semblance of legitimacy. They gave Diane all the tools she needed to perfect her love of torture and killing.  I won't say more...things get bloodier and deadier as the story goes on and as much as I like Dionne's writing, I had a hard time reading the events in the book. Others enjoyed this book much more than I did, so be sure to read other reviews for a broader understanding of the story.  Thank you to G.P. Putnam's Sons/Penguin Publishing Group and Edelweiss for this ARC. 

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    After the brilliant The Marsh King's Daughter, Karen Dionne once again plunges the reader into another dysfunctional family drama, set in the remote and pristine woods of the Michigan Upper Peninsula wilderness, with its echoes of the darkest fairytales and the parallel echoes between two generations of sisters, Jenny and Charlotte, and Jenny's daughters, Diana and Rachel, and the emotionally fraught difficulties of being a parent. Since the age of 11, the 26 year old Rachel Cunningham has been After the brilliant The Marsh King's Daughter, Karen Dionne once again plunges the reader into another dysfunctional family drama, set in the remote and pristine woods of the Michigan Upper Peninsula wilderness, with its echoes of the darkest fairytales and the parallel echoes between two generations of sisters, Jenny and Charlotte, and Jenny's daughters, Diana and Rachel, and the emotionally fraught difficulties of being a parent. Since the age of 11, the 26 year old Rachel Cunningham has been a resident of the Newberry Regional Mental Health Centre, a psychiatric hospital, enduring unspeakable suffering and humiliation, a self imposed punishment for being responsible for the death of her parents, even though the spider does not agree with her judgement. Trevor, the brother of her only friend in the asylum, Scotty, shows her police evidence that proves that she is innocent, it appears her sacrifice was all for nothing, now she must have answers. Rachel embarks on a search into the past, the woods where she was raised in almost complete isolation with only her sister for company, role playing characters from fairytales in their childhood, looking for who she is, what happened to her parents and those lost memories locked deep into her subconscious. The story is relayed from the perspective of Jenny and Rachel, a Jenny who becomes increasingly concerned about her young child, Diana, and the dangers she might pose to those around her. Instead of seeking professional help, Jenny instead removes her from society by organising their move to the isolated family lodge in the woods, feeling the emotional tug to do all that she can to protect her child, whilst carrying out field research on bears as a wildlife biologist. However, a trail of death, horror and destruction follows in the wake of the psychopathic Diana, threatening to destroy the family. Jenny has seriously underestimated their ability to manage a callous, devious and manipulative Diana who feels no remorse, has no heart, and a dominant personality that rules the family. Jenny breathes a sigh of relief when her sister, Charlotte, comes to live with them, providing much needed support for Diana. After all, if you cannot rely on family who can you rely on? In a narrative that shifts from the past and the present, Rachel looks for answers, receiving nudges from the animal and bird kingdom, but will she survive the dangers of once again tangling with Diana, who had so easily dominated her as she was growing up? This is an uneasy and disturbing read, there is animal abuse, and a foray into the past that is so traumatic that Rachel has buried her memories deep within her psyche. It would be all too easy as an outsider to wonder how Jenny and Peter made such catastrophic and poor decisions when it comes to Diana, but the emotional morass of being family, of being a parent, this can make you blind when it comes to your own child, just as it can when it comes to seeing your sister clearly, you may only see the dangers when it is all too late. An engaging and compulsive novel, although I much preferred The Marsh King's Daughter. Many thanks to Little, Brown for an ARC.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    The Grimms' fairytale taken to another level. 2 parents dead. One daughter who has believed for 15 years of her life, she killed them. She self commits only years later finds she couldn’t have killed them. She returns home to find out the truth which has been lost in the recesses of her mind. Twisty, curvy just how I like my thrillers. Dionne, in both The Marsh King's Daughterand now The Wicked Sister takes the reader into a new fairytale realm. And while it was gripping, it was a little too neatly The Grimms' fairytale taken to another level. 2 parents dead. One daughter who has believed for 15 years of her life, she killed them. She self commits only years later finds she couldn’t have killed them. She returns home to find out the truth which has been lost in the recesses of her mind. Twisty, curvy just how I like my thrillers. Dionne, in both The Marsh King's Daughterand now The Wicked Sister takes the reader into a new fairytale realm. And while it was gripping, it was a little too neatly packaged at the end. 4⭐️ (less)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    3.5 stars "All will become known, the raven promised. Things are not as they seem, the spider warned. Remember, the Raven's mate urged." She thought she buried her past.... Rachel locked herself away in a psychiatric facility as punishment for the crimes she believed she committed as a child. But what if she didn't commit them? What if she didn't accidentally shoot and kill her parents, then who did? She has gaps in her memory but when she is presented with evidence that she did not kill her pa 3.5 stars "All will become known, the raven promised. Things are not as they seem, the spider warned. Remember, the Raven's mate urged." She thought she buried her past.... Rachel locked herself away in a psychiatric facility as punishment for the crimes she believed she committed as a child. But what if she didn't commit them? What if she didn't accidentally shoot and kill her parents, then who did? She has gaps in her memory but when she is presented with evidence that she did not kill her parents, she wonders who did. Will her memory ever come back? Plus, her older sister well... read to find out. The book is told in alternating timelines. We are given her Mother, Jenny's account of what happened in the past and Rachels POV in the present. Through Jenny's POV, it is clear who committed the crimes, but will Rachel come to that conclusion as well? This is a creepy uncomfortable book with some cringeworthy scenes that add to the story creating mounting dread. As I read, I just knew things were going to get worse, much, much worse. Plus, there were times that I wanted to yell at the parents in the book for the choices they made - or lack of choices they made. Seriously, wtf, people. I'll admit, there were times I did not care for this book. Mainly because the book made me angry and uncomfortable. I imagine most will take issue with some of the decisions made in this book. And yet, this one grew on me, I enjoyed it and realize that the Author wants us to be uncomfortable, she wants readers to understand just how serious things are in this book. Fans of her previous book The Marsh King's Daughter will enjoy this one, although I will admit to enjoying the Marsh King's Daughter more. Dionne loves to use nature in her books and nature plays a key part in this book as well. Dionne gives vivid descriptions and transports readers to the woods and into this family's home. I received a copy of this book from the publisher and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ceecee

    4-5 stars.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    3.5 stars This is one of those reviews that is tough to write & I think I may be an outlier here for purely subjective reasons. I’m not going to get into the story too much, the blurb will give you the gist. Instead, I’ll try to explain why this was just a case of book-reader mismatch. When I rate a book, it’s usually a combination of points for technical ability & how much I enjoyed the read. The first was never in doubt. The author’s previous book (The Marsh King’s Daughter) was on my Top 10 lis 3.5 stars This is one of those reviews that is tough to write & I think I may be an outlier here for purely subjective reasons. I’m not going to get into the story too much, the blurb will give you the gist. Instead, I’ll try to explain why this was just a case of book-reader mismatch. When I rate a book, it’s usually a combination of points for technical ability & how much I enjoyed the read. The first was never in doubt. The author’s previous book (The Marsh King’s Daughter) was on my Top 10 list for 2017 & went on to win the Barry Award. She excels at creating memorable characters & atmospheric settings that lend the story a distinct sense of place. Easy 4 stars here. The problem for me was with the more subjective side of the reading experience & it comes down to what kind of sub-genres you enjoy. This falls firmly in the psychological thriller column. It’s a familial battle of good vs. evil with clearly defined characters. The end is never in doubt but it’s more about the journey…..a “why-dun-it”. What I discovered is that I’m more of a “who-dun-it” girl. I want a big, tangled & knotted mystery to pick away at….something with plenty of red herrings & misdirection to keep me guessing til the end. Unfortunately, I could see exactly where this story was going early on. The only thing left in doubt was which of the peripheral characters would be left standing. For that reason, I had trouble staying absorbed in the story. Give it 3 stars for reading pleasure. And so we get an overall rating of 3.5. I’d encourage readers to take a look at other reviews & if you’re a fan of psychological thrillers, grab this & hide somewhere you won’t be interrupted. I’ll see myself out.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Be sure to check for my review, first posted on Mystery and Suspense, as well as a number of other insightful comments by other reviewers. https://www.mysteryandsuspense.com/re... After thoroughly enjoying one of her previous novels, I was pleased to get my hands on the latest work by Karen Dionne, which proves to be just as eerie. Telling a family’s story in two time periods, Dionne keeps the reader enthralled as pieces of the larger narrative slowly fall into place. Those who have enjoyed Dionne Be sure to check for my review, first posted on Mystery and Suspense, as well as a number of other insightful comments by other reviewers. https://www.mysteryandsuspense.com/re... After thoroughly enjoying one of her previous novels, I was pleased to get my hands on the latest work by Karen Dionne, which proves to be just as eerie. Telling a family’s story in two time periods, Dionne keeps the reader enthralled as pieces of the larger narrative slowly fall into place. Those who have enjoyed Dionne’s past work will not want to miss this one! Fifteen years ago, Rachel Cunningham was locked away in a psychiatric facility. She murdered her parents at the age of eleven and refuses to allow herself any reprieve. The flashbacks are as vivid as ever and she refuses to talk about them with anyone else. When a reporter arrives to chat with her about telling the story, he explains that the evidence shows Rachel could not have committed the murders and that her self-imposed isolation can end if she wishes to sign herself out. In a second narrative, two decades earlier, Jenny and Peter struggle with the death of a neighbourhood child who drowned in their pool. While their daughter, Diana, denies having anything to do with it, the evidence Jenny discovers says otherwise. Worried about the ongoing shaming that might occur, they reluctantly pack everything up and move into Peter’s family cabin, deep in the woods. There, Diana can thrive on her own, or so her parents hope. When Jenny reveals that she’s pregnant, she can only hope this change in the family will be best for everyone. The new baby proves to be the polar opposite of Diana, something Jenny and Peter secretly enjoy. As Rachel grows, her sister is constantly pushing the limits and trying to harm her. Diana’s diagnosis as psychopathic makes it impossible to leave the girls alone, even for the shortest time. When Diana acts out once again, it is Rachel who reveals the truth to her parents, causing them to have to make a significant decision that is sure to make ripples throughout the entire Cunningham family. As present day Rachel comes to terms with some of these suppressed memories, she encounters her sister once again. Rachel reveals what she knows about the day their parents died, leaving Diana to act in the only way she knows how. As the truth comes to the surface, wickedness receives its true name and a family is torn apart anew. The story reads like a well-crafted psychological thriller with hints of evil throughout, as the title suggests. Karen Dionne creates a wonderful tale that works along parallel timelines, revealing just enough to keep the reader guessing, though keeping the pieces from falling into place until all is said and done. Rachel Cunningham proved to be a worthy protagonist. Having locked herself away at a young age, she has no one but herself and the animal kingdom to keep her company, part of her upbringing in the woods. She seems enveloped in a mental fog, something that slowly reveals itself, only to create new chaos for her. Rachel remembers scraps her her life with Diana, though it is only when they reconnect that the truth begins to flow freely, which may not be the best thing for her. Dionne’s use of strong secondary characters keeps the story moving, particularly as the other Cunninghams fill many of those roles. The reader can learn a little more about the strains that occur within the family, as Jenny serves to recount the flashback narrative, though it is Diana and her actions as far back as being nine that almost steal the show. Completely devoid of emotion, this child is a parent’s worst nightmare, as can be seen throughout the book. While it took me a while to connect the two narratives, the plot thickens from the outset and the reader can surely forecast what is to come. In a story told through the eyes of Rachel and Jenny, there are many ‘aha’ moments in both the modern plot and that from years ago, when the parental murders took place. Dionne uses alternating chapters to tell of both time periods, forcing the reader to split their attention, though as things gain momentum, everything makes sense in both timelines. Chilling reveals throughout and the final face-off between Rachel and Diana offers the best of all the plot lines, with a twist at the end to tie it all together! Kudos, Madam Dionne, for another winner. I cannot wait to see what else you might have in store for your fans. Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/ A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    "We stopped checking for monsters under our bed when we realized they were inside us." (The Joker) Hunka Munka......They walk amongst us day in and day out......Smiling faces with sunshine obliterating their deeply darkened souls. And some are blood of our blood. Karen Dionne takes a lefthand turn down to Crazy Town. The Wicked Sister is not even on the map anywhere near her last book, The Marsh King's Daughter. This one simmers with foreboding throughout, and we as readers, have strapped on concr "We stopped checking for monsters under our bed when we realized they were inside us." (The Joker) Hunka Munka......They walk amongst us day in and day out......Smiling faces with sunshine obliterating their deeply darkened souls. And some are blood of our blood. Karen Dionne takes a lefthand turn down to Crazy Town. The Wicked Sister is not even on the map anywhere near her last book, The Marsh King's Daughter. This one simmers with foreboding throughout, and we as readers, have strapped on concrete blocks of dread as the storyline sinks into waves of apprehension. We know that bad stuff has happened here. But, why oh why? Rachel Cunningham committed herself years ago to a psychiatric facility. She was convinced that she was somehow responsible for the deaths of both her parents even when there was no definitive proof. In time, she leaves the facility and returns to the family log cabin compound in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Her parents were both biologists and researchers living in the wild. No phone service, a faulty generator, and not another living soul for miles and miles. You get the picture. Not gonna lie. The Wicked Sister is filled with some truly gruesome situations. It's certainly not for everyone. The scenes are explicit and the walk around inside someone's unbalanced head can be frightful. No Zombies. No Frankenstein. Just PEOPLE, folks. Dionne sets it up purposefully that the reader will feel uncomfortable. But we continue to turn pages to gather up clues as to "Why?". The Wicked Sister is well written. Karen Dionne can tell a good tale. Just know that this one is gonna sit with you long after the last page.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Rachel has been living voluntarily in a psychiatric hospital for 15 years. When she was 11 her parents died, although the police ruled their deaths as murder/suicide, she remembers standing over their dead bodies holding a gun!! When Rachel is shown police evidence that she could not have shot her parents, she is keen to leave the hospital and discover the truth about their deaths. Rachel returns to the family’s remote log cabin to see her sister and aunt, hoping that being back home will bring b Rachel has been living voluntarily in a psychiatric hospital for 15 years. When she was 11 her parents died, although the police ruled their deaths as murder/suicide, she remembers standing over their dead bodies holding a gun!! When Rachel is shown police evidence that she could not have shot her parents, she is keen to leave the hospital and discover the truth about their deaths. Rachel returns to the family’s remote log cabin to see her sister and aunt, hoping that being back home will bring back memories of the day her parents died. This is my first book that I have read of Karen Dionne but after being gripped by this it will definitely not be my last. Thank you to Netgalley for my copy in exchange for a review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    DeAnn

    *you can now get your hands on a copy of this one! 4 Gruesome Fairy Tale Stars After reading and really liking “The Marsh King’s Daughter” about three years ago, I knew this was an author to follow! One of my favorite things is how Karen Dionne writes about the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I was lucky enough to visit Mackinac Island a few years ago and I would go back in a heartbeat to explore more of this beautiful state. The setting is beautiful, but the characters are tortured in this one. This *you can now get your hands on a copy of this one! 4 Gruesome Fairy Tale Stars After reading and really liking “The Marsh King’s Daughter” about three years ago, I knew this was an author to follow! One of my favorite things is how Karen Dionne writes about the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I was lucky enough to visit Mackinac Island a few years ago and I would go back in a heartbeat to explore more of this beautiful state. The setting is beautiful, but the characters are tortured in this one. This psychological suspense tale alternates chapters of modern day with Rachel and then the past with Jenny, Rachel’s mother. When we start with Rachel, she has been in a mental hospital for 15 years because of some terrible things that happened when she was a child. Rachel decides it is finally time for the truth to come out though as she cannot really remember what happened. Maybe she wasn’t actually responsible . . . Rachel checks herself out and heads back to her childhood home where her sister Diana still lives with their Aunt Charlotte. The home is a beautiful, but secluded log house. Growing up, Rachel’s parents were biologists researching right outside the house. They studied the bears and frogs in the area. Rachel loved studying bears with her mother, and she knew the woods very well. As Rachel starts to jog her memory, we learn more about how off-kilter Diana was and how she made her childhood miserable. With the isolation, the two sisters frequently acted out fairy tales. In the Jenny and Peter chapters, we learn about the struggle to raise a child with mental illness. This book built in suspense and while I knew what was coming, it was still a surprise how it all played out. As a warning, there is some animal abuse and taxidermy. I know some fellow readers have been bothered by that piece. Overall, I liked this one and loved the writing style. Thank you to Edelweiss, Karen Dionne, and G.P. Putnam/Penguin for a complimentary copy to read in return for an honest review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    ☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~ ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣

    Q: Flies aren’t the best conversationalists. For that matter, neither am I. (c) Q: “Our little family cemetery is much more crowded than you know.” (c) Q: It’s a tough world when you’re a bear. (c) Q: I could have spent my teenage years at the lodge, gone to a university, gotten a degree, carried on my mother’s research, fallen in love, gotten married... The answers I need don’t lie in my future; they’re buried in my past. (c) Q: ...there are a lot of neuroses and psychoses I can fake. Mood disorders a Q: Flies aren’t the best conversationalists. For that matter, neither am I. (c) Q: “Our little family cemetery is much more crowded than you know.” (c) Q: It’s a tough world when you’re a bear. (c) Q: I could have spent my teenage years at the lodge, gone to a university, gotten a degree, carried on my mother’s research, fallen in love, gotten married... The answers I need don’t lie in my future; they’re buried in my past. (c) Q: ...there are a lot of neuroses and psychoses I can fake. Mood disorders are the easiest, but I also do a mean schizophrenic. I used to pretend that I had a different disorder every time I got a new roommate, like trying on a new shirt or coat, which might seem manipulative or maybe even cruel, but was really just harmless fun. (c) A story of mental breakdown… of a crime… of memories gone incomprehensible. Rachel and Jenny. Diana the tiny monster. Scary kids and clueless parents, all in need of therapy and maybe just a tiny bit of exorcism. Rachel speaks to animals and, what's more important, they talk back: Q: I hate when animals use enigmatic sayings to pretend to wisdom. That this raven spoke to me is not unusual... (c) It's both exhilarating and chilling how the perspective of a mental patient actually being able to leave the institution is shown. Good that Jenny is true to herself. Another great thing is all the outdoorsiness and all the woodsy romantics we get glimpses of: Q: the scenery is going to be spectacular. It’s hard to believe that tomorrow we could be tramping around in our very own woods, leaves crunching underfoot and squirrels gathering acorns while the chickadees chatter, maple and beech trees glowing red and gold against an azure sky. We can take out the canoe on our very own private lake whenever we like, catch perch and rock bass for our dinner, spend long winter evenings in front of a roaring fire, sipping drinks and reading Hemingway and Dostoyevsky while Diana sleeps on a bearskin rug at our feet, her cheeks flush with heat, while outside the wind rattles the windows and the snow blows. Okay, so maybe I am a bit of a romantic… (c) A 'tragedy of errors'. Why, of all people, it was a journalist who gave her the info she so badly needed? Q: After no one believed me when I came out of my catatonia and told them I killed my mother, I stopped talking about it. My aunt and sister never asked what was keeping me at the hospital because they thought my therapists were addressing my issues. My therapists didn’t know the reason for my lack of progress because I never told them I still believed I killed my mother. (c) Q: I didn’t so much fall through the cracks as willingly jump into them. (c) Diana: Q: But her therapist doesn’t have to live with our sweet, charismatic, highly intelligent, super-creative, ultra-manipulative, love-you-one-second-and-bite-you-on-the-arm-the-next daughter. (c) Q: Once again, I am in awe of my daughter’s fearlessness. (c) That's not fearlessness. That's stupidity and unability to see the possible consequences, like 'I throw stones at the cub, the mom bear gets mad and eats my mom and me and even if I run away I am alone and hungry and have nowhere to live'… Overall, a very decent read. Other: Q: There aren’t many places willing to take a mentally challenged paranoid schizophrenic. (c) Q: I can’t explain why I’m able to understand his mouth-full-of-marbles speech any more than I can explain my ability to understand the spider. (c) Q: I’ve seen too many people spill their guts in group therapy believing that this will make them feel better, only to discover that revealing their deepest, darkest secrets invariably makes things a thousand times worse. (c) Q: —It’s my twelfth birthday. I’m sitting cross-legged on the floor of a padded cell strapped into a straitjacket. My arms ache and my nose itches and I have to pee. My voice is hoarse from yelling for help. … —I’m fifteen. I’m lying on my back on a narrow gurney counting the fluorescent lights that pass overhead as I’m wheeled down a long hallway. My arms and legs are buckled into leather straps. My therapist has promised that this will be the last electroconvulsive therapy session I will need. I don’t believe her. (c) Q: Clearly, our daughter’s utter fearlessness and oversized sense of adventure are going to serve her well here. (c) Huh. Q: I’m his ticket to fame and fortune; he’s my passport to the outside world. I think it’s a fair trade. (c) Q: I do know that I discovered early on that choosing when to speak and what to say was one of the few aspects of my hospital experience that I could control. (c) Q: I wonder what it would be like to have both a future and someone to share it with. (c)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Walker

    I feel like I won the lottery by getting a very early sneak peak at Karen Dionne's HIGHLY anticipated new novel, The Wicked Sister. It is exceptional in so many ways - from the writing to the plotting to the divine atmospheric setting - this is a MUST read in 2020. Two sisters.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Louise Wilson

    Set in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Two sisters have to confront their past when the youngest sister, Rachel's memories are not really as she remembers them. Rachel had locked herself away in a state facility as she believed that she had shot her parents. Now, an investigative journalist has reopened the case. When Rachel hears the evidence, she starts questioning everything that she believed to be true. For fifteen years Rachel had chosen to stay in a psychiatric unit. She's just learned ne Set in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Two sisters have to confront their past when the youngest sister, Rachel's memories are not really as she remembers them. Rachel had locked herself away in a state facility as she believed that she had shot her parents. Now, an investigative journalist has reopened the case. When Rachel hears the evidence, she starts questioning everything that she believed to be true. For fifteen years Rachel had chosen to stay in a psychiatric unit. She's just learned new details about the murders of her parents and checks herself out of the facility. She returns to the lodge where her sister, Diana and her aunt Charlotte still live, to try and get to the truth. Told from Rachel's perspective in the present day and from her mother, Jenny in the past. This story is about two sisters, one good the other evil. This is a well written fast paced read with believable characters that are well rounded. There is some animal abuse and taxidermy in the story that might upset some readers. I would like to thank NetGalley, Little, Brown Book Group UK and the author Karen Dionne for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jess☺️

    The Wicked Sister by Karen Dionne is a dark and distressing thriller which is going to have you feeling agitated whilst reading it and wanting to get to the conclusion fast and punching the air with a big THANK GOD FOR THAT!!!! I never thought I'd want to kill a child as much as I did when reading this ( please forgive me but read it and you'd understand 🙏) but Diana is a psychopath (no really she is) The twist and turns, up and downs in this book are just going to send you on an unbelievable rid The Wicked Sister by Karen Dionne is a dark and distressing thriller which is going to have you feeling agitated whilst reading it and wanting to get to the conclusion fast and punching the air with a big THANK GOD FOR THAT!!!! I never thought I'd want to kill a child as much as I did when reading this ( please forgive me but read it and you'd understand 🙏) but Diana is a psychopath (no really she is) The twist and turns, up and downs in this book are just going to send you on an unbelievable ride and no nails. I definitely recommend this 📖

  16. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    Wow! What a captivating read! Unique, informative and thrilling with never a dull moment. After reading and loving Karen Dionne's "The Marsh King's Daughter" I could hardly wait to get my hands on "The Wicked Sister". It did not disappoint. A family moves to Michigan's Upper Peninsula to remove their young psychopath daughter from other people. As the story progresses we read about murder, mental hospitals and unspeakable evil. A gripping suspense-filled psychological thriller that is unputdownable!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    The Wicked Sister is Karen Dionne’s latest psychological thriller after she rocketed to international success with The Marsh King’s Daughter back in 2017, and whilst not quite as gripping as that was, this is still a thoroughly enjoyable thriller. It's not immediately clear at the start of the story the depth and insight the fictional narrative is about to provide as it delves into some very dark and disturbing topics. It follows 26-year-old Rachel Cunningham who since the age of 11 has been a vo The Wicked Sister is Karen Dionne’s latest psychological thriller after she rocketed to international success with The Marsh King’s Daughter back in 2017, and whilst not quite as gripping as that was, this is still a thoroughly enjoyable thriller. It's not immediately clear at the start of the story the depth and insight the fictional narrative is about to provide as it delves into some very dark and disturbing topics. It follows 26-year-old Rachel Cunningham who since the age of 11 has been a voluntary resident and firm fixture of the psychiatric hospital known as Newberry Regional Mental Health Centre. She believes that she was responsible for the death of her parents, Jenny and Peter, by gunshot and this is what precipitated her descent into chaos, however, when her closest friend at the asylum, Scotty, receives a visit from his brother and trainee journalist, Trevor, he draws her attention to a discrepancy in the Medical Examiner’s report which shatters her the world and reality as she knows it. Armed with this earth-shattering information she makes contact with two remaining family members: her sister and her aunt, Diana and Charlotte respectively, and travels to the family’s secluded cabin in the stunning wilderness of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in order to seek clarification on why they would abandon her to a fate of abuse at the facility. Have her repressed memories of the incident and her fractured psyche led to her living a lie for over a decade? This is a gripping, moving and hard-hitting look behind the closed doors of a dysfunctional family unit and most importantly the devastating and far-reaching impact it can have on those involved often fostering a deep-seated hatred which continues exists between family members. I didn't realise quite how profound this was to become as it offers startling and authentic depictions of psychopathy, mental health, domestic abuse and the trouble of knowing just how to deal with close relatives who have major psychiatric issues. Couple a few creepy moments with an equally creepy setting, in a sparsely populated area surrounded by dense woodland and the type of location in which the likelihood of seeing another human is improbable, and it has you hooked; the descriptions create a tense and incredibly claustrophobic atmosphere, which serves to keep you eating into the page count. It's a powerful gut-punch of a thriller with a plethora of twists and a complex yet wholly engaging cast of characters. Manipulation, narcissism, deception and secrets and lies abound in this unique read. Many thanks to Sphere for an ARC.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    After falling in love with Karen Dionne's writing style in The Marsh King's Daughter, I couldn't wait to get my hands on her newest release. Unfortunately, despite the beautiful writing style and breathtaking descriptions of the wild, this book fell flat for me. It was rather like Dr. Doolittle meets the Joker. Meh. The book begins with Rachel Cunningham, who has voluntarily locked herself away in a psychiatric facility for the last fifteen years following her parents' death, as she is tortured After falling in love with Karen Dionne's writing style in The Marsh King's Daughter, I couldn't wait to get my hands on her newest release. Unfortunately, despite the beautiful writing style and breathtaking descriptions of the wild, this book fell flat for me. It was rather like Dr. Doolittle meets the Joker. Meh. The book begins with Rachel Cunningham, who has voluntarily locked herself away in a psychiatric facility for the last fifteen years following her parents' death, as she is tortured by gaps in her memory and believes that she is responsible for their deaths. When she agrees to speak to a reporter and sees the police report for the first time, she begins to wonder if she was really responsible after all and decides the only way to find out is to return to her childhood home in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, where her older sister and aunt still live. As Rachel begins to uncover what really happened on the day her parents were murdered, she learns that home can be a place of unspeakable evil. The first issue I had with the book is that the title gives it all away - there is no real element of suspense here. There were a couple of minor twists but nothing that really mattered either way. Second issue - there is great detail about taxidermy. I've said it before, I thoroughly dislike reading about taxidermy, and it is discussed ad nauseum in this book. Third issue - the conversations with animals! Talking ravens (and they do not say nevermore), spiders (ala Charlotte's Web), and bears (and dead bears at that) - it was all a big eye roll for me. Fourth issue - the ending. I get that fairy tales play a big role in this book, and the super happy ever after ending leaves you with a nice feeling, but for a thriller, it just didn't work for me. I did love the brilliant atmospheric setting of the Upper Peninsula, which was very reminiscent of TMKD, and that is where Dionne shines. You can vividly picture every breath of cold air, and the wind from every rocky trail. I also liked Rachel's character but that was about it - her parents' actions drove me crazy, and the minor characters were just okay. I did appreciate Dionne's foray into psychopathy, and while I found it informative and intriguing, I just felt that there was so much more that could have been done with it in regard to the plot. Overall, not an awful book, but it just didn't blow me away. I still love Karen Dionne's writing style though and am already looking forward to what she will come out with next. 3 taking-a-hard-pass-on-the-talking-animals stars.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Louise Wilson

    Set in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Two sisters have to confront their past when the youngest sister, Rachel's memories are not really as she remembers them. Rachel had locked herself away in a state facility as she believed that she had shot her parents. Now, an investigative journalist has reopened the case. When Rachel hears the evidence, she starts questioning everything that she believed to be true. For fifteen years Rachel had chosen to stay in a psychiatric unit. She's just learned ne Set in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Two sisters have to confront their past when the youngest sister, Rachel's memories are not really as she remembers them. Rachel had locked herself away in a state facility as she believed that she had shot her parents. Now, an investigative journalist has reopened the case. When Rachel hears the evidence, she starts questioning everything that she believed to be true. For fifteen years Rachel had chosen to stay in a psychiatric unit. She's just learned new details about the murders of her parents and checks herself out of the facility. She returns home to the lodge where she was raised and her older sister, Diana and her aunt Charlotte still live, to try and get to the truth. Told from Rachel's perspective in the present day and from her mother, Jenny in the past. This story is about two sisters, one good the other evil. This is a well written fast paced read with believable characters that are well rounded. There is some animal abuse and taxidermy in the story that might upset some readers. I would like to thank NetGalley, Little, Brown Book Group UK and the author Karen Dionne for my ARC in exchange for an honest review .

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)

    Rachel Cunningham was only eleven when she accidentally shot and killed her mom and caused her dad to kill himself. Or, at least she believes that's what happened. There are so many gaps in her memory from that time, including the three weeks afterward where no one knows where she was until she appeared on the side of the highway in Michigan’s remote Upper Peninsula. Police believe it was a murder-suicide: Rachel’s dad killed her mom then turned the gun on himself in the hallway of their lodge. Fo Rachel Cunningham was only eleven when she accidentally shot and killed her mom and caused her dad to kill himself. Or, at least she believes that's what happened. There are so many gaps in her memory from that time, including the three weeks afterward where no one knows where she was until she appeared on the side of the highway in Michigan’s remote Upper Peninsula. Police believe it was a murder-suicide: Rachel’s dad killed her mom then turned the gun on himself in the hallway of their lodge. For fifteen years Rachel has chosen to stay in a psychiatric facility, convinced she is the reason her parents are dead. Now she has learned new details about the murders that change the entire story and cause her to question the memory she has constantly replayed to punish herself. In an effort to uncover the truth, Rachel checks herself out of the facility and returns to the lodge where she was raised and her older sister Diana and aunt Charlotte still reside. Alternating the points of view of Rachel in the present and her mother Jenny in the past, readers experience the vast environment of the Upper Peninsula in a brutal fairy tale of two sisters, one good and one evil, and a fight for survival when the truth is exposed. First, let me say that this is a far-fetched story. I had to suspend my disbelief numerous times and was continuously shaking my head at the choices Rachel’s parents made. Then, I began to understand this was supposed to read like a true fairy tale (the original dark and sinister fairy tales, not the shined-up children’s versions) and I was able to enjoy where the story led me. I read and overall enjoyed the author’s previous novel, The Marsh King’s Daughter, and found a similar vibe in this book, where the beauty and intricacy of nature play a large role in the overall story and add to the suspense. I recommend The Wicked Sister to readers who enjoy atmospheric mystery/suspense and psychological thrillers. ***Trigger warnings for detailed cruelty/violence against both humans and animals.*** Thanks to G.P. Putnam’s Sons and Edelweiss for providing me with a DRC in exchange for my honest review. The Wicked Sister is scheduled for release on August 4, 2020. For more reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ludwig Reads

    “...with a clarity that is almost frightening, suddenly, I remember everything.” Boy was I mesmerized by this sinister, flawless and terrifying work of psychological suspense. Do you ever finish a book and think, “oh man, I wish I could’ve written this”? That’s how I felt about this book. 26-year-old Rachel had spent fifteen years in a psychiatric ward for thinking she killed her mother with a rifle when she was 11 years old, until...she stumbles upon new information that makes her question every “...with a clarity that is almost frightening, suddenly, I remember everything.” Boy was I mesmerized by this sinister, flawless and terrifying work of psychological suspense. Do you ever finish a book and think, “oh man, I wish I could’ve written this”? That’s how I felt about this book. 26-year-old Rachel had spent fifteen years in a psychiatric ward for thinking she killed her mother with a rifle when she was 11 years old, until...she stumbles upon new information that makes her question everything she thought she knew: had she really been living a lie for more than a decade? Buckle up readers, and get ready to be transported into Rachel’s horrifying story which takes place in her late parents’ “otherworldly” wilderness lodge surrounded by a massive forest (which I thought was the perfect setting for a crime thriller), filled with *wicked* memories as well as some mesmerizing aspects - including Rachel’s strange/unpredictable connection to the the wilderness. That’s where I applaud the author for using unusually beautiful elements that entirely bend the rules of an average psychological thriller. The book studies psychopathy and trauma in a very layered way, and you feel compelled to root for the protagonist and follow her journey with the heart-pounding question, “Will Rachel survive?” The writing is strong and modest and brims with the most engaging mysteries... What’s the mystery behind Rachel’s strange two-week disappearance? What secrets motivated her wildlife biologist parents’ strange decision to move far away from civilization? Whew! I love when authors create stories that instantly become a part of you, and I certainly felt that with the Wicked Sister, especially with a heroine like Rachel Cunningham - she’s not an easily-forgettable character and nor is her story. The Wicked Sister is a chilling suspense novel with a strong pulse and a creative storyline. Mark your calendars, August 4th! Full reviews on: Instagram: @ludwigreads The blog: Ludwig’s Thrillers

  22. 4 out of 5

    3 no 7

    Rachel has spent fifteen years in a mental hospital suffering from complicated grief disorder because she thinks she killed her father and mother, even though the police ruled her parents’ deaths were a murder‑suicide perpetrated by her father. Trevor, a budding journalist, wants to interview her about her past. She decides that she has been serving a self‑imposed life sentence for a crime she did not commit, and desperately wants to know everything. The answers she needs are buried in her past, Rachel has spent fifteen years in a mental hospital suffering from complicated grief disorder because she thinks she killed her father and mother, even though the police ruled her parents’ deaths were a murder‑suicide perpetrated by her father. Trevor, a budding journalist, wants to interview her about her past. She decides that she has been serving a self‑imposed life sentence for a crime she did not commit, and desperately wants to know everything. The answers she needs are buried in her past, so she checks herself out of the hospital, and her adventure of discovery begins. The story unfolds in Rachel’s first person “now” narrative, alternating with “then” chapters in a first person narrative by Jenny. Dionne structured the narratives so readers gradually discern the connection of the narrators, and a troubling picture emerges. Relationships are complicated, complex, and difficult to interpret. The children are exceptionally bright, very manipulative, and difficult to interpret. Neither past nor present events are as they seem. And then there is the rifle, the Remington, the most‑loved hunting rifle in America, bought for Rachel. The title “The Wicked Sister” implies that the sister is, in fact, wicked, but there are several sisters in this drama, and wickedness can be skillfully hidden. I received a review copy of “The Wicked Sister” from Karen Dionne, G.P. Putnam's Sons, and Penguin Publishing Group. Readers are kept guessing right up to the twisted, yet satisfying, ending. The Fates are smiling but not in the way expected.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ruthy lavin

    Another gripping, one-sit read from the author of the Marsh Kings daughter. I loved it almost as much as the first book, i admittedly saw similarities between the 2, but this didn’t detract from how good the book was. A 4 star read 🌟

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    This is one of those books where I get what the author, the simply sublime Karen Dionne (who blew my damn mind with the gorgeous The Marsh King's Daughter) was going for. What would you do if you knew that the little girl you loved with your heart was a monster? How would you raise that child? How would you keep her safe? How would you keep other people safe from her? Maybe part of my issue here is that while those questions are super interesting and I'd love to learn the answers in this case I n This is one of those books where I get what the author, the simply sublime Karen Dionne (who blew my damn mind with the gorgeous The Marsh King's Daughter) was going for. What would you do if you knew that the little girl you loved with your heart was a monster? How would you raise that child? How would you keep her safe? How would you keep other people safe from her? Maybe part of my issue here is that while those questions are super interesting and I'd love to learn the answers in this case I never get to because I'm told what they are on page one. The story flips between two main characters. Rachel in the present is a young woman who's spent most of her life in an asylum convinced that she's responsible for the death's of her parents years before. In the past is Rachel's mother Jenny who harbors a dark and dangerous secret that she has escaped to the Michigan wilderness to protect. There's reasonable tension as the stories move back and forth in time between Rachel trying to remember what really happened when her parents died and Jenny getting closer and closer to the tragedy. Again though the problem is that we already know the ending. I'm gonna tag the rest of this under a spoiler tag so proceed at your own risk. (view spoiler)[Rachel's older sister is psychotic. We learn this on page like three when she drowns a toddler in a pool at the ripe old age of eight. So it is literally the farthest thing from a secret that she's obviously the murderer responsible for killing their parents (and a bunch of other people as it turns out). I think what Dionne was going for here isn't really a mystery, I think we're supposed to know that Diana (the sister) is obviously the killer and the real story is how the family arrived at the point that the murders were able to occur. Again though the problem is that's not very interesting either because we immediately know its because Jenny is a misguided, loving mother who doesn't want to commit her child and instead decides to hide Diana's diagnosis and rampant murdering (that she is totally aware of) and take her whole family to the wilderness because isolating Diana from the world is the best option. Its not even all that unreasonable of a plan, I mean Jenny and her husband are actively trying to get Diana treatment, she has a team of psychologists and psychiatrist and they KNOW she's literally a psychopath. But they love their daughter and they don't want to lose her. I get that, really I do. But its not a super interesting story and its definitely not a thriller. Instead its another one of those books where everything happens exactly as you knew it would and then it ends. I wonder if it might have helped to have the reader left unaware of what exactly had happened to Diana and Rachel's parents. If part of Rachel's journey isn't just finding out who really killed them but that they're even dead at all. I'm positive Dionne is entirely capable of pulling off a bait and switch like that. Perhaps Diana has been torturing her all the years she's been committed with stories of their parents not wanting to see her because of some "crime" she doesn't remember perpetrating only for the big reveal to be that its Diana who's been responsible all along and their parents have been gone for years. Just something to really come out and smack the reader in the face instead of this sort of quiet, obvious ending that was foretold from the beginning. (hide spoiler)] So while the writing is evocative and beautiful just as in her earlier book I was super disappointed in the story. I admire the attempt and again, totally get the idea, alas the end result just didn't do it for me.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    I loved Karen Dionne’s previous novel, THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER, an atmospheric mystery that made it onto my favourites list in 2018, so I was very excited to read her latest one! In THE WICKED SISTER, Dionne continues to share her knowledge and love of the Michigan UP wilderness areas with her readers. Rachel, our main protagonist, grew up in the forest, in an old hunting lodge that has been in her father’s family for generations. It made sense to her that her scientist parents should choose su I loved Karen Dionne’s previous novel, THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER, an atmospheric mystery that made it onto my favourites list in 2018, so I was very excited to read her latest one! In THE WICKED SISTER, Dionne continues to share her knowledge and love of the Michigan UP wilderness areas with her readers. Rachel, our main protagonist, grew up in the forest, in an old hunting lodge that has been in her father’s family for generations. It made sense to her that her scientist parents should choose such a remote location, which gave them access to the wilderness they were writing about. Little does she know the real reason why her parents chose to relocate here from their suburban home, nor is she aware of the cascade of events that led to her parents’ murder-suicide when Rachel was eleven. Haunted by disjointed memories of holding the gun that killed her mother, and plagued by feelings of guilt that she may have been responsible for her parents’ death, Rachel has spent the last fifteen years in a mental institution. Now, if not cured then at least pronounced able to return into society, it’s time for Rachel to go home. In another timeline was hear from Jenny, Rachel’s mother, telling of the events leading up to her and her husband’s death. And if you have read Dionne’s previous novel, then you will know her knack of delving into the darkest corners of the human psyche and creating a tale that is truly chilling to the core. I wished that I had read this with a buddy, because I needed counselling after this disturbing tale! If I had to sum it up in one word only, “unsettling” comes to mind. Shaken to the core is another. As layer after layer is stripped away and Rachel’s fragmented memories fall into place, the truth is a picture you will not forget in a hurry. As much as some of the story’s aspects disturbed me, I thoroughly enjoyed the wilderness setting and the rich descriptions of all kinds of wildlife found there. THE WICKED SISTER is the kind of book where the setting acts like another character, and I was instantly transported there. As with her previous book, Dionne incorporates aspects of legends and fairy tales into her story. Maybe it’s the creation of a child’s mind surviving trauma that Rachel thinks she is able to communicate with animals, or maybe it’s just her survival instinct, but it has saved her life more than once. Even though this element may seem somewhat whimsical, it gave me a sense of hope of how a young child may cope in extreme psychological distress. All in all, THE WICKED SISTER was a dark and unsettling psychological thriller that drew me in very quickly and had me glued to the pages for hours. I especially enjoyed the remote wilderness setting and Dionne’s rich descriptions of the dense forests of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, which made for armchair travel of the best kind. Even though some aspects of the plot – especially the ending – seemed slightly farfetched, this did not distract from my overall feeling of quiet discomfort that I really appreciate in a mystery. I look forward to Dionne’s next book, and hope she will take us back to the forest she loves and knows so well. Thank you to Edelweiss and G.P. Putnam's Sons for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review. *blog* *facebook* *instagram*

  26. 4 out of 5

    Adele Shea

    A modern day fairytale with an evil twist.

  27. 5 out of 5

    ☕️Kimberly

    Narrated by Kristen Sieh in the present and Andi Arndt in the past, Dionne shared a twisted tale that kept me guessing. Rachel Cunningham lives in a mental hospital because she believes she did the unthinkable. When she was eleven, she went missing in the woods. She has lost memory of that time. The only thing she remembers is holding the gun that shot and killed her mother…. Eep… when our tale opens, Rachel is an adult and self-punishing herself when a young reporter interviews her. During his in Narrated by Kristen Sieh in the present and Andi Arndt in the past, Dionne shared a twisted tale that kept me guessing. Rachel Cunningham lives in a mental hospital because she believes she did the unthinkable. When she was eleven, she went missing in the woods. She has lost memory of that time. The only thing she remembers is holding the gun that shot and killed her mother…. Eep… when our tale opens, Rachel is an adult and self-punishing herself when a young reporter interviews her. During his interview, he shares police reports that Rachel has never been privy to. They cast doubt on her beliefs. Needing answers, she returns to her childhood home. There she hopes to unlock her memories and discover what really happened. The author shares Rachel’s discoveries but also takes us back and shares life before the shooting through the perspective of her mother. This proved to be equally suspenseful. The plot was tightly woven as Dionne slowly built up the suspense and revealed key aspects. Did I mention her Aunt and older sister reside in the secluded cabin? That they don’t know she is there? The author makes the listener question Rachel and her memories. Some I saw coming and other revelations made me stand up and shout. Rachel is an unreliable narrator and we learn how much she has locked away of her memories. Chilling and perfectly paced, I connected with both voices and narratives. I loved the dual narration and felt both narrators gave voice to their protagonists. Both amped up the suspense. The story lent itself perfectly to audio. Kristen Sieh was new to me, but I will gladly listen to her again. I adore Andi Arndt and loved seeing her in this genre. The two paired well together from pacing to tone. This review was originally posted at Caffeinated Reviewer

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    After her breakout debut The Marsh King's Daughter, Michigan writer Karen Dionne returns with another psychological suspense novel set in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The Wicked Sister is a dark fairy tale. The Cunningham Family has retreated to the deep woods after their eldest daughter Diana was identified with a mental deviancy. The youngest daughter Rachel adores her big sis and only playmate. But the games Diana directs cross the border into her sick world. Their parents are found dead and aft After her breakout debut The Marsh King's Daughter, Michigan writer Karen Dionne returns with another psychological suspense novel set in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The Wicked Sister is a dark fairy tale. The Cunningham Family has retreated to the deep woods after their eldest daughter Diana was identified with a mental deviancy. The youngest daughter Rachel adores her big sis and only playmate. But the games Diana directs cross the border into her sick world. Their parents are found dead and after several weeks missing, eleven-year-old Rachel returns certain she murdered them. She checks herself into an institution. Years later, a newspaper article comes into her hands with proof of her innocence and she checks herself out and journeys back to the cabin in the woods, seeking the truth. Now she is leery of her older sister, living with their mother's aunt who was always easily manipulated. Because with a clarity that is almost frightening, suddenly, I remember everything.~from The Wicked Sister by Karen Dionne The story is told in two voices by the mother and the youngest daughter, the mother's insights sharing a backstory unknown by Rachel. It's quite a thrill ride, as dark as a Grimm's Fairy Tale. Michigan's isolated woodlands is the vivid backdrop, an environment of deep beauty and danger. Complicated family relationships are not always what they seem. The novel shares elements of The Marsh King's Daughter in setting and with a young woman whose life is in danger. I was given a free ebook by the publisher through Edelweiss. My review is fair and unbiased.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    The Wicked Sister is a great read that features an intriguing plot that's full of suspense and will keep you guessing until the very end. For fifteen years, Rachel Cunningham has believed herself responsible for her parents' deaths and has locked herself away in a mental hospital as punishment. With few memories of the day her parents died, the one thing Rachel is sure of is that she was the one who shot her mother. But when Rachel discovers new information that shows it would have been impossibl The Wicked Sister is a great read that features an intriguing plot that's full of suspense and will keep you guessing until the very end. For fifteen years, Rachel Cunningham has believed herself responsible for her parents' deaths and has locked herself away in a mental hospital as punishment. With few memories of the day her parents died, the one thing Rachel is sure of is that she was the one who shot her mother. But when Rachel discovers new information that shows it would have been impossible for her to have been the shooter, she makes the decision to go home and find out what really happened that fateful day. But as Rachel begins to uncover the truth, she learns that the idyllic lodge where she grew up is more dangerous than she thought. This book is told in alternating chapters of Rachel in the present and her family in the past leading up to Rachel's parents' deaths. I found the chapters in the past to be a bit more interesting solely because I was invested in finding out how Rachel's parents died. It's clear that their deaths didn't happen the way Rachel remembers, but beyond that we don't know what happened to them until it is revealed near the end of the book. Due to her jumbled memories, Rachel is somewhat of an unreliable narrator which made following her in the present an interesting experience. As Rachel slowly regains her memories or learns new information about her parents' deaths, we experience it alongside her. The ending of the book is suspenseful with a few interesting twists I didn't see coming and overall I was happy with the way the book wrapped up. I intentionally tried to keep this review as vague as possible as I think a decent portion of my enjoyment was discovering the twists in the book as they popped up. As a warning I will say there is a fair amount of animal cruelty in this book. I had to skim those passages as it's not something I can read about. The book also includes taxidermy, a character is actively involved in the practice, which is another subject I struggle with, so I had to skim those parts as well. Definitely be on the lookout for those passages if these are subjects you have a hard time reading about. I'm glad I saw a review mentioning them which allowed me to keep an eye out for it while reading and jump forward several pages once it came up. Overall I really enjoyed The Wicked Sister and I would definitely recommend it along with the author's previous book, The Marsh King's Daughter, if you're looking for a suspense novel full of surprising twists. **I received an advance copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.**

  30. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    I predict that THE WICKED SISTER will be another winner for Karen Dionne. But remember: its title lets you know what you're in for. The title refers to Diana. She was diagnosed as a psychopath when she was a little girl. But her parents loved her and chose to deal with it as best they could. They moved to an ideal place to do so, far from other people for Diana to hurt. But through most of the book I wanted to scream at them, no, no, no! You have another child, Rachel, to consider! In alternating I predict that THE WICKED SISTER will be another winner for Karen Dionne. But remember: its title lets you know what you're in for. The title refers to Diana. She was diagnosed as a psychopath when she was a little girl. But her parents loved her and chose to deal with it as best they could. They moved to an ideal place to do so, far from other people for Diana to hurt. But through most of the book I wanted to scream at them, no, no, no! You have another child, Rachel, to consider! In alternating chapters, this story of the family's past is told by the mother, Jenny, while the present is told by Rachel, now incarcerated in a mental institution. Believe me, Rachel's chapters will come as a relief after you read the sickening and frustrating chapters about a family that was ruled by Diana's desires. Without telling you the story, which you should read for yourself, I will say that Rachel thinks she killed her mother but realizes her memories of doing so and of the following two weeks are incomplete. We learn what really happened as her memories come back to her. We also understand the family's history by now and know what Diana is capable of. Try not to wonder how Jenny, who is supposed to be dead, can tell the story of the family's past. And try not to be too horrified during her descriptions of Diana's misdeeds (including murder and attempted murder) and manipulations. Then you will see that THE WICKED SISTER may be even better than Dionne's bestseller THE MARSH KING'S DAUGHTER. And you will appreciate all her descriptions in THE WICKED SISTER of Michigan's Upper Peninsula with its wide expanses of woods and nature. These may even remind you of another author's book, WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING.

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