Book Review: The Good Sisters by Helen Phifer

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Title - The Good Sisters
Author - Helen Phifer
Publication Date - October 31st 2016
Publisher - Carina UK
Format - Kindle Edition (Provided by publisher via NetGalley)
Pages - 249

1933. Mother Superior Agnes offers sanctuary to a desperate young woman fleeing for her life. Only to wake in the morning to discover a terrible fate has befallen one of the Sisters - in a room locked from the inside. Agnes can't help fear that she has allowed a great evil to enter the convent, but she has no idea how far reaching the consequences of that one fateful night will be...

Over 80 years later, Kate Parker, divorced, alcoholic, and broke, moves into the dilapidated old convent she dreams of turning into a bed and breakfast, whilst changing her life. Although the locals refuse to go near the place at night, Kate is determined to stay while the renovations take place. But when she starts to hear strange noises at night, and the crucifixes she had removed reappear on the walls, Kate starts to suspect she is not entirely alone in her new home.

As much as I utterly adore romantic fiction, I have always, for as long as I can remember, had a soft spot for all things spooky and unusual, and Helen Phifer's The Good Sisters falls into that category perfectly. As soon as the details for this frightening novel were released, I knew that I absolutely had to read it. It sounded right up my street and I just couldn't wait to get started on what sounded like one hell of a creepy story, slotting seamlessly into Halloween season.

Readers are introduced to Kate Parker first. Battling a powerful addiction and still grieving the loss of her very best friend, Kate's about to put her all into the renovation of an old and abandoned convent in order to turn it into the bed and breakfast of her dreams. It's going to be a tough job but, in an unexplainable way, Kate feels connected to the place, and she's desperate to make it her own. Kate's character was one that I admired in a number of ways. Stronger than she gave herself credit for, determined and ready for change, she was the type of woman who had been through a lot yet continued to soldier on despite the pain her past had delivered. Simply moving into the convent and overseeing the work was a feat in itself, but even from the beginning, something wasn't quite right about the place. Put aside the fact that it's old and probably has a few stories of its own to tell, something sinister seemed to linger in the rooms and corridors within. Phifer's descriptions sent one too many chills running down my spine and it was impossible to ignore the effects it had on me as the reader. With every page turn, I was readying myself for whatever was waiting around the corner.

Once the foundations of Kate's life are set and the plot is ready to move forward, Phifer takes us back to the past, to 1933 to be precise, over eighty years prior to Kate taking the building for her own, where we meet the women who had once inhabited the very same convent she's about to turn into a bed and breakfast. This was where the chills really set in for me and Phifer shifts brilliantly into a time before my own. As the events unfold and the three sisters face their darkest fears, I couldn't help but to wonder how this would impact Kate's life in the present day. The circumstances that arose for Mother Superior Agnes and sisters Mary and Edith were gruesome and frightening to say the least. The author's descriptions were vivid and set the scene perfectly for a spooky tale to unfold, which it most certainly did in my opinion. I felt a sense of foreboding in regards to what was to come for Kate, without her even realising what had happened in the walls of the convent. The poor woman had no idea and I felt awfully worried for her.

I absolutely loved how the plot began to build, and the things which Kate was witness to were truly terrifying. If I had been in her position, I would have run screaming from the place immediately. As the strangeness began to increase and the occurrences began to become more regular, the pace certainly picked up, and I couldn't wait to see how Kate would deal with yet another challenge thrown her way, only this time of the supernatural variety. Phifer continues to go back and forth between the two time periods, heightening excitement and terror in equal measure. It was thrilling in the most unnerving of ways and a story to have you switching on the lights before stepping into any dark room.

Becca's Books is awarding The Good Sisters by Helen Phifer with four of my bookish cupcakes. A truly terrifying read with a perfectly executed history of horror and tragedy. It was dark, chilling and full of twists and turns that made only made it more exciting. I loved it.


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