Reviewed by Amy Gruzesky
When you start reading this short story by thriller author J.S. Ellis, you think you have an inkling of where it is going. A tale of two sisters: Jenny–beautiful, successful, smart, and their mother’s favorite; and Evie–introverted and a self-described misfit who sees herself as less attractive and a disappointment to their mother.
We meet them as Jenny and Evie’s parents are hosting a Sunday lunch, where Jenny will be introducing her new (and of course, perfect) boyfriend, John, to the family. Evie is there, but not looking forward to it.
With that opening scene, I was anticipating a story of two young sisters constantly battling and at odds with one another, with perhaps a dose of jealousy thrown in, to set up what was sure to be a combative relationship, and most likely serious feud between the two. I figured the new perfect boyfriend would serve as a catalyst to amplify the sisterly animosity.
So, I was totally surprised when in the first few pages it is revealed that Evie speaks regularly to Jenny, who even confides to her some “less than perfect” things about her seemingly charmed life, and it seems that the two are actually on good terms, despite being polar opposites.
But trust me–that is only the first surprise, and a relatively mild one, in this quick-moving and addictive read that will keep you turning the pages until you are gut-punched by the shocking, and I mean SHOCKING, ending. Even as I was reading the final event as it was unfolding, I couldn’t believe it. And then, Ellis takes it up yet another notch with an added equally, if not more, jaw-dropping revelation.
Ellis does a fabulous job of setting up what you think is going to be a somewhat predictable tale with an equally predictable outcome. Instead, as you learn more about Evie, the story’s narrator and from whose point of view the story is told, and her relationship with Jenny, you begin to realize that what you initially thought is truly not the case, and then you are stunned when you learn what the two truly do have in common.