cover image Sister Mine

Sister Mine

Nalo Hopkinson. Grand Central, $23.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-446-57692-5

Makeda and Abby are twins who were conjoined at birth but separated, and now as an adult Makeda still feels they are emotionally conjoined. This convoluted story, peopled by a bewildering cast of shape-shifters, traces Makeda's quest for independence and her own mojo, apparently lost during the infant separation. It opens as Makeda looks for her own apartment without telling Abby she is leaving. The seedy place where she hopes to live has "Shine" (a kind of aura), a motley assortment of tenants, and "haint-proof" blue ceilings; however, it proves a poor safe haven as Makeda's shape-shifting haint%E2%80%94her "daemon"%E2%80%94regularly finds and torments her. When Makeda hears that her elderly father has disappeared, she joins Abby and her otherworldly relatives in searching for him and his soul. The story overflows with fantasy: the twins' mother happens to be a lake monster, a kudzu vine named Quashee takes possession of her father's soul, Makeda knits a flying carpet, and Abby dates a young man who used to be a guitar. Although Hopkinson (Brown Girl in the Ring) has a strong narrative voice in Makeda, she's so intent in creating unrelated fantastic situations and events that the book loses momentum and coherence before presenting a simplistic ending. (Mar.)