I have now read five Jennifer McMahon novels, all of which start to blend together since she basically uses the same formula over and over (The Night Sister definitely stands out from the pack, though, if you’re looking for a recommendation). Usually, something happens 10-15 years ago, to a kid or a group of kids. Then we’re in present day, with one or two grown ups trying to put the pieces of that summer/winter/night back together. There’s some sort of supernatural element that gets (at least mostly) explained away with a reveal at the end. And for some reason, it seems like incest pops up a lot in this woman’s novels (at least in the last two I’ve read). But despite all this (or perhaps because of it?) I’m still eager to read her books. They manage to hook you right from the beginning, and even when you guess the end (I definitely guessed the end on this one — including the incest, ugh), you’ll want to get there anyway.
“Lisa smiled. ‘You know how sometimes, you catch the faintest hint of movement in the corner of your eye, then you blink and it’s gone? That’s them.”
Lisa believes in fairies, and knows for certain that she saw them one dark night in the woods behind her house. Her brother Sam and their cousin Evie play along for a bit, but eventually realize that Lisa feels way more strongly about the fairies than they do. As they back away from her, Lisa continues to court the “fairy king”, Teilo, leaving him gifts in the woods. Then one night, she disappears. Fifteen years later, Sam has become a closed up man, who refuses to discuss his sister’s disappearance. His girlfriend, Phoebe, becomes obsessed with it after cousin Evie reappears in Sam’s life. Despite Sam refusing to talk about any of it, Phoebe and Evie work together to find out who took Lisa — and if they’re in danger now themselves.
McMahon alternates the story between Phoebe’s present day research, and Lisa in the past. The mood is creepy, the characters are all very unreliable, and it’s worth the read if you like that sort of thing.