My Sisters Bones By Nuala Ellwood: Review and Summary

My Sister's Bones by Nuala Ellwood | Waterstones

My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood: The novel My Sister’s Bones is a psychological thriller by the British author Nuala Ellwood. The story is set in the present day, and follows the journey of Kate, a war reporter who is struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. Upon returning home she finds out that all isn’t well in her family, and she believes that she has witnessed a murder from her childhood home. Kate is determined to uncover the truth and get justice for those who might have been harmed. The book explores themes of trauma, grief, family, and suspense, portraying the struggles and challenges that people face in their lives.

Main Themes and Ideas:

The main theme of My Sister’s Bones is trauma and its impact on an individual’s personal and professional life. Kate, a war reporter, battles with her inner demons after her time in Syria and cannot seem to shake off the memories of what she has seen. Her PTSD is exacerbated by the events that she believes are taking place in her family home. Similarly, her sister Sally is coping with her own trauma by self-medicating with alcohol. Through the lens of the main character, the writer effectively portrays how trauma can lead a person to feel isolated from their loved ones and can often lead to mental illness.

Ellwood also explores the themes of family ties and how far a person is willing to go to protect their family or those they love. In the book, Kate’s love for her sister Sally is evident despite their strained relationship. The emotions and guilt she feels over not being there for her sister serve to further emphasise the bond between the siblings. The author also delves into the idea of how well people know those closest to them and how secrets can have debilitating effects on individuals and their relationships.

Critical Evaluation of the Writing Style:

Nuala Ellwood has a flair for crafting suspenseful and thought-provoking stories that keep readers engaged through the entirety of the novel. Her writing style is descriptive, and she has a way of transporting her readers to the setting of the story. The author’s use of a first-person narrative makes it easy for the reader to connect with the main character Kate and understand the struggles that she is going through. The story is well-paced, and the plot twist towards the end of the book is unexpected and makes the reader question the events that they have read before it.

However, while the writing style is engaging, some readers may find the book quite dark and intense. Ellwood does not shy away from portraying the harsh realities of war and the impact it has on individuals. This could make the book a difficult read for some readers. Additionally, the author’s use of flashbacks in the story can be confusing and disjointed, causing readers to lose their grip on the present reality of the main character.

Strengths and Weaknesses:

The strength of My Sister’s Bones is in the character development and the exploration of the impact of trauma on an individual, and how it can lead to mental health problems. The author skilfully weaves together the individual storylines of the main characters to create a cohesive narrative. The climax of the book is also highly suspenseful and unexpected, which makes it an excellent read for those who enjoy thrillers or suspenseful novels.

One of the weaknesses of the book is its dark undertones and focus on trauma. While this is a key theme of the book, it may not be to everyone’s taste. The use of flashbacks to tell the story can also be confusing and disjointed, and some readers may find it difficult to follow the narrative structure.

Comparison to Other Works in the Genre:

Compared to other psychological thrillers, My Sister’s Bones stands out as a well-crafted novel that explores themes of trauma and family ties. The focus on mental health and its impacts on individuals is unique and makes the book a standout in its genre. However, it does follow some of the common tropes of the genre, such as plot twists and suspenseful moments, that are present in many other works. While it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it still manages to stand out as a noteworthy addition to the genre.

Overall Impression and Recommendation:

My Sister’s Bones is a well-written psychological thriller that explores themes of mental health and family. The writing is engaging and the plot twists make for an enjoyable read. However, the dark undertones and intense focus on trauma can make it a difficult read for some people. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a suspenseful read and is interested in exploring the impact that trauma can have on an individual’s life.


1. Is My Sister’s Bones a standalone book, or is it part of a series?

My Sister’s Bones is a standalone novel by Nuala Ellwood.

2. Is the book suitable for young readers?

The book deals with mature themes such as war, trauma, and mental health, and is therefore not suitable for young readers.

3. What is the reading level of My Sister’s Bones?

The book is suitable for readers aged 18 and above.

4. Is the book available in electronic format?

Yes, the book is available in electronic format on most major online platforms.

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