The Night Sister

The Night Sister

by Jennifer McMahon

Hardcover(Library Binding - Large Print)

$35.95 View All Available Formats & Editions


From the New York Times bestselling author Jennifer McMahon (The Winter People) comes an atmospheric, gripping, and suspenseful tale that probes the bond between sisters and the peril of keeping secrets.

The Tower Motel was once a thriving attraction of rural Vermont. Today it lies in disrepair, alive only in the memories of the three women—Amy, Piper, and Piper’s kid sister, Margot—who played there as children. They loved exploring the abandoned rooms … until the day their innocent games uncovered something dark and twisted that ruined their friendship forever.

Now, Amy stands accused of committing a horrific crime, and the only hint to her motives is a hasty message that forces Piper and Margot to revisit the motel’s past, and the fate of two sisters who lived there in its heyday.  Sylvie Slater had dreams of running off to Hollywood and becoming Alfred Hitchcock’s leading lady, while her little sister, Rose, was content with their simple life. Each believed the other to be something truly monstrous, but only one knows the secret that will haunt the generations to come.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781628997217
Publisher: Center Point
Publication date: 10/28/2015
Edition description: Large Print
Pages: 500
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

JENNIFER McMAHON is the author of six novels, including the New York Times best-sellers Promise Not to Tell and The Winter People. She graduated from Goddard College and studied poetry in the MFA Writing Program at Vermont College.

Read an Excerpt

Amy’s heart hammers, and her skin is slick with sweat.

Focus, she tells herself. 

Don’t think about the thing in the tower. 

Amy knows that if she thinks too hard about it, she won’t be able to do what needs to be done. 

She looks down at the photo, the old black-and-white print she’s kept for almost thirty years, hidden away in the drawer of her bedside table.  It’s been handled so much that it’s cracked and faded, one of the corners torn.   
In it, her mother, Rose, and her Aunt Sylvie are young girls, wearing crisp summer dresses as they stand in front of a sign that says World Famous London Chicken Circus.  Each girl clutches a worried-looking hen, but that’s where the similarities end. Amy’s mother is wearing a scowl beneath tired eyes, her hair dark and unkempt, while Sylvie is radiant, the one who was going to grow up and go to Hollywood. Her blond hair is movie-star perfect, her eyes shining.

Someone had scrawled a date on the back: June, 1955. If only Amy could travel back in time, talk to those two girls, warn them what was coming.  Warn them that one day, it would all lead to this moment: Amy alone and out of options, on the verge of doing something terrible.

She bites her lip and wonders what people will say about her once she’s gone.  

That she was broken inside, a woman with a screw loose (Aren’t all women like that, really?  Little time bombs waiting? Especially women like her—surviving on monthly boxes from the food pantry, dressing her children in ragged, second-hand clothes that never quite fit.) 

What went wrong? they will whisper to each other while fondling artichokes and avocados in the produce aisle of the grocery store.       

What kind of monster was she? they might ask after a few glasses of wine as they sit in tidy living rooms, gathered for book club.  

But these people know nothing of true monsters.  They will never have to make the choices Amy has made.

The fluorescent lights in the kitchen buzz and flicker.  Amy takes a deep breath, looks out the kitchen window. Beyond the gravel driveway, past the two ruined motel buildings with their sagging, swaybacked roofs, the tower leans precariously.  Made of cement and stone, it was built by her grandfather all those years ago as a gift for her grandmother Charlotte.  Her own Tower of London.

Amy thinks, as she often does, of that long ago summer when she was twelve.  Of Piper and Margot and the day they found the suitcase; of how after that, nothing was ever the same. 

Where was Piper now?  Out in California somewhere, surrounded by palm trees and glamorous people, living a life Amy couldn’t even imagine.  Amy suddenly longs to talk to her, to confide in her and ask for forgiveness, to say, “Don’t you see this is what I have to do?”

She thinks that Piper and Margot might understand if she could tell them the whole story, starting with the suitcase and working forward.

But mostly, what she wishes, is that she could find a way to warn them. 

She glances at the old photo in her hand, takes a black marker from a kitchen drawer, and hastily writes a message along the bottom, over the chickens and patterned summer dresses. Then she tucks the photograph into her back pocket and goes to the window.

The clock on the stove says 12:15 am.  

Down at the tower, a shadow lurches from the open doorway. 

She’s out of time. 

Moving into the hallway, she latches the deadbolt on the front door (silly, really—a locked door will do no good), then stops at the closet and grabs her grandfather’s old Winchester.  Rifle in hand, she climbs the stairs, the same stairs she’s climbed her whole life.  She thinks she can hear young Piper and Margot following behind her, whispering, warning her, telling her—as they did all those years ago—to forget all about it, that there is no 29th room. 
Amy takes each step slowly, willing herself not to run, to stay calm and not wake her family.  What would Mark think if he woke up and found his wife creeping up the steps with a gun?  Poor, sweet, clueless Mark—perhaps she should have told him the motel’s secrets?  But no.  It was better to protect him from it all as best she could.

The scarred wood beneath her feet creaks and she thinks of the rhyme her grandmother taught her: 
When Death comes knocking on your door, you’ll think you’ve seen his face before.
When he comes creeping up your stairs, you’ll know him from your dark nightmares.
And if you hold up a mirror, you shall see,
That he is you and you are he.

Reading Group Guide

The questions, discussion topics, and suggestions for further reading that follow are designed to enhance your group’s discussion of The Night Sister, Jennifer's gripping new novel about the dark legacy that haunts a Vermont family.

1. Sylvie and Rose are rivals, while Piper and Margot have a close bond. What determines whether sisters get along? How do the siblings in the book compare to yours?

2. Amy, Piper, and Margot are first-rate sleuths at age twelve. What’s special about that age? Are adolescents better than their parents at seeing the truth and having an open mind?

3. Discuss the novel’s interwoven timelines. Would you rather grow up in the 21st century, the 1950s, or the 1980s? In The Night Sister, what stays the same throughout all three eras?

4. What fuels Jason’s attraction to Amy? How do his feelings about her change throughout their lifetimes?

5. How was your reading affected by Sylvie’s letters to Alfred Hitchcock, and the real-life connection to Vermont in The Trouble with Harry? How do you think Hitchcock and his staff would have responded to her letters?

6. What were your theories about Fenton? How did your opinion of him shift?

7. With echoes of Psycho’s Bates Motel, what makes the Tower Motel a powerful setting for this storyline? What did the tower represent to each generation? What did you expect the 29th room to look like?

8. Compare the novel’s three marriages: Charlotte and Clarence, Amy and Mark, Margot and Jason. What are the greatest strengths and vulnerabilities in these relationships?

9. What did you believe about the moth Rose keeps in a jar?

10. “Mare” is an Old English word, not an invention of the author; we use it when we talk about nightmares. How did you react to Oma’s lessons about mares? What do you believe about the tangible nature of evil?

11. What do you predict for Rose and Lou? As mothers, did Charlotte and Amy do the right thing?

12. At the heart of the novel is a legacy of secrecy. Are there any long-held secrets in your family? What would it take to be ostracized by your relatives?

13. How does The Night Sister enhance your experience of Jennifer McMahon’s previous novels? What is unique about the way her characters confront the unknown?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The Night Sister: A Novel 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You wont be sorry if you buy this book, i couldnt put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the plot. I think it would make a fantastic movie. I highly recommend it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this on a whim and practically stayed up all night to read it. I would think it would turn out one way and then it would go another. A great puzzle to figure out. Definitely worth reading if you like to check under the bed for monsters. Highly recommended!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The newest Jennifer McMahon book has the requisite teens and tweens that she does so weli, as well as a healthy dose of things that go bump (and growl, claw and shape shift) well into the night. The Tower is a character unto itself snd the letters to Alfred Hitchcock a whimsical touch. The mare was a bit predictible, telegraphed but enjoyable nonetheless.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Keeps you wanting to turn the page.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Blends folklore with the perfect setting to create an unsettling tale of what it means to make sacrifices...
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
You've got secrets, lies, mysteries and ghosts too? This was a GREAT book!!! I am definitely glad I was reading it during the day. I wish I could say the best parts of this book without spoiling it for you. This is like nothing I've ever read before. And while, I'm getting a little tired of that genre, this book has just the right amount. There is absolutely no way you could figure this one out. It's a one of a kind. Especially since you don't see the different genre being mixed up in this at all. It was definitely a nice surprise from your ordinary thrillers. I, without a doubt, highly recommend this book. I'm definitely sure it will be on my top 12 for 2015!!! Thanks Doubleday and Net Galley for providing me with this free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a fun read and kept me guessing the whole time!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written but pretty bizarre. Quite fascinating but chilling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A little hard to keep up with at first, but very very good!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fast paced with the change of perspectives. Loved past to present jumps and all the little mysteries connected!
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
I have read The Winter People by this author and I wanted to read more of her work, so I picked up this novel. I liked the mysterious elements of this novel and I liked the voices of the characters. One mystery dealt with where Sylvie was and the other mystery materialized the night that Amy and her family died. This novel centered on a hotel that had a tower constructed beside it, a replica of The Tower of London. I kept picturing The Bates Hotel with a tower, as I read this novel as there was this creepy and shadowy element to the happening surrounding the hotel and the family that ran the hotel, they felt unusual and dark. I liked the characters as they were a diverse bunch. It seemed that some individuals wanted to hide the past, they never wanted to look back while others were trying to uncover the details as the puzzles transpired. I wanted to feel empathy as events arose, but I hesitated for I felt that I didn’t know who was truly involved, how involved they were and the true story that would accompany that event. The story pops between a few different time periods but the stories all comes together in the end, the characters aging in the process and new individuals being introduced. It wasn’t so much a sitting-at-the- end-of-my-seat read for me but there was that anticipation of what would transpire as I read, who was involved in the events and what the outcome was. I enjoy reading Jennifer McMahon’s novels and I am looking forward to the next one.
AlwaysReadingDC More than 1 year ago
After reading this book, I'll definitely be looking at others by this author. Loved the plot. A great blend of mystery and supernatural.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this was the most ridiculous book I've read in a long time
NookGirl78 More than 1 year ago
The pages of my book are nice and worn from sharing this one with my friends. I couldn't put it down and finished it in just three days. A suspenseful story of a family with dark secrets threatening to come to the surface. Friends feeding their childlike curiosity in an abandoned hotel, what could go wrong? When the hidden treasures lead them to more stories of mysterious missing family members and frightening secrets what more do you need?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this writer recently in an airport when I bought Winter People. Very intriguing! I decided to follow with this one and also was not disappointed. I love the back and forth with characters and timelines, leaving a good amount of mystery to be had until the end. It kept me reading late into the night. I look forward to reading more of her stories!
KimHeniadis More than 1 year ago
Another fantastic book by Jennifer McMahon! I read The Winter People by her (read review here) and really enjoyed it, so I was excited to read this one for book club. There was a perfect amount of mystery, thriller and supernatural elements in this book. McMahon is a master at writing books that jump around different time periods. In this one there are four; 1955, 1961, 1989, and 2013. For each time period she is spot on with the various details including clothing and expressions. It is very apparent when the times shift, unlike some books where you have to really puzzle it out. There are so many questions that revolve around the mystery of the book, but McMahon keeps the tension high while answering them, and still give you a break from time to time so you can catch your breath. For me the supernatural elements were not so scary that you want to keep all the lights on, but added just enough creepiness to keep the thrills coming. I also really enjoyed how she added in the letters to Alfred Hitchcock, and included the real life event of him coming to the town for an opening of a film. I wasn’t surprised at the ending because I thought it was going to go that way about halfway into the book, but I wanted to keep reading to see how all the pieces fit together. And I was still surprised with a couple of the details. If you enjoy supernatural thrillers or mysteries, I highly recommend this one, as well as The Winter People.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Horrible. Could not finish the book. Not what I would call entertaining.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Theresa_Raymer More than 1 year ago
The Night Sister was a wonderful mystery/thriller. It was written with the same Characters through out the book. We also get to read about 4 different time era's that jump back and fourth from 1955, 1961, 1989 and the year 2013. Everyone of us carries around family secretes but none like we find in The Night Sister. Pick up this book read it and you will find that you will enjoy the wonderful writing by Jennifer McMahon.
JeannieWalker More than 1 year ago
This is a suspenseful paranormal mystery. I really liked how Silvie wrote a letter to Hitchock regarding the story he did about the old roadside motel where strange things happened. I think we all remember that one. As for me, I still don’t like taking showers at night. Anyway, Silvie wanted to know if Hitchcock got that idea from her... Strange things do sometimes happen, and sometimes there are no logical explanations as to what or how it happens. I believe we have a lot of paranormal activity going on...sometimes we know about it and sometimes we don’t have the slightest idea it is happening. But, the ones who have experienced paranormal activities know there is more to this world than what meets the eye. Why not give this novel a whirl? Jeannie Walker (Award-Winning Author) "Fighting the Devil" - A True Story of Consuming Passion, Deadly Poison,and Murder
Anonymous More than 1 year ago