Book Review: My Sister, The Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite

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What an inspiring case of writer’s block! My Sister, The Serial Killer is Oyinkan Braithwaite’s first novel, which came about as a fun project for the author to get her creative juices flowing. The result? The LA Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller and near wins of the Booker Prize and Women’s Prize for 2019. Set in Lagos, Nigeria, this dark comedy is a rush of moral, familial, feminist, and societal concepts. One chapter makes you chuckle, the next draws a frown.

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Illustration of Serious Issues

The comic attitude of the protagonist, Korede, lightheartedly delivers a number of troubling societal trends: domestic violence, child abuse, patriarchal traditions, familial pressures, and mental illness. This last subject lies at the core of the book as the roots of the psychological problems driving Ayoola, Korede’s sister, into murdering her boyfriends are revealed.

Feminism with a Twist

The novel’s most prominent theme involves the bond between sisters, how far one would go to protect the other. Other feminist concepts emerge in the narrative too, such as disillusionment towards gender and marital norms. Let’s not overlook the very title! From start to finish, My Sister, The Serial Killer challenges stereotypical views of women as docile, fragile creatures. And, at the same time, it amusingly redefines what serial killers are thought to look like.

Balanced Pace

I’m a reader who prefers small chapters and Braithwaite has skilfully applied this feature. One day is all that’s needed to devour her work and all its meaningful humour. The wonderful thing about it is that it doesn’t lose anything along the way. The narration is quick, precise, and rich in character, content, and resonating gaps. In my opinion, any more description would have been redundant and a burden to the overall stimulating effect.


My Sister, The Serial Killer is a must-read debut novel. It challenges and educates as readily as it amuses. If this was a spur-of-the-moment kind of story, it’ll be interesting to see what Braithwaite produces next.

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