cover image The Wicked Sister

The Wicked Sister

Karen Dionne. Putnam, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7352-1303-6

Rachel Cunningham, the protagonist of this devastating, magic realism–dusted psychological thriller from Dionne (The Marsh King’s Daughter), has been guilt-ridden for 15 years since a twin tragedy she can’t remember—her mother’s murder and father’s apparent suicide—when she was 11 at her family’s vast wilderness estate on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She has voluntarily confined herself to a decaying mental institution, where one day she gains access to the original police report, obtained somehow by a fellow patient’s brother, that sparks the faint hope she’s not responsible for her parents’ deaths—and sends her back to the family estate, where her brilliant but scary older sister, Diana, and their aunt still live, to try to figure out what really happened. But Rachel’s mission soon becomes far more perilous than she anticipated. Arriving unannounced at a time when both women are away, she discovers paperwork indicating that Diana is up to no good. As Rachel scrambles to remain undetected, the tension at times becomes almost unbearable, especially as the reader becomes privy to critical information unknown to Rachel via flashbacks narrated by her late mother. Dionne paints a haunting portrait of a family hurtling toward the tragic destiny they can foresee but are powerless to stop. Agent: Jeff Kleinman, Folio Literary Management. (Aug.)