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Book Review: ‘The Stolen Sisters’ by Louise Jensen

Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m posting my review of Louise Jensen’s compelling psychological thriller, ‘The Stolen Sisters‘. I didn’t really have any expectations going into this book, but I ended up absolutely loving it! So, keep reading to discover my thoughts…

Sisterhood binds them. Trauma defines them. Will secrets tear them apart?

Leah’s perfect marriage isn’t what it seems but the biggest lie of all is that she’s learned to live with what happened all those years ago. Marie drinks a bit too much to help her forget. And Carly has never forgiven herself for not keeping them safe.

Twenty years ago The Sinclair Sisters were taken. But what came after their return was far worse. Can a family ever recover, especially when not everyone is telling the truth…?

‘The Stolen Sisters’ (September 2020) is Louise Jensen’s sixth thriller, following on from ‘The Sister’ (July 2016), ‘The Gift’ (December 2016), ‘The Surrogate’ (2017), ‘The Date’ (2018) and ‘The Family’ (2019). She also writes romance novels under the pen name Amelia Henley. Louise lives with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat in Northamptonshire.

The novel has received lots of positive praise, from the likes of Sunday Times: “The queen of high-tension grip lit delivers a twisted tale that won’t let you go”, Candis: “A fast paced, suspenseful thriller with unforeseen clever twists and turns” and Woman & Home: “Twisting, turning, breathless ride to the end”. Many fellow authors have also praised her work, including B.A. Paris: “So good, raced through it in a day!”, Alice Feeney: “A clever, addictive thriller” and Jane Corry: “Kept me on the edge of my seat from the first page”.

‘The Stolen Sisters’ follows the lives of sisters Leah, Marie and Carly – flitting between the past (when the girls were abducted and held captive) and the present day. The sisters are all struggling to move on from that life-changing event 20 years ago, and it soon becomes clear that there are still many secrets lurking beneath the surface. Can the family ever heal and move forwards?

The narrative is partly told from the third-person perspective, with each chapter focusing on the character of Carly, George or Marie. A significant portion of the narrative is told from Leah’s first-person perspective, giving the reader an in-depth insight to her thoughts, feelings and emotions. The novel switches between the present day (Now) and 20 years’ previously (Then). The narrative is also split into different parts according to major plot developments. Overall, the narrative is slightly more complicated to follow, but it is still very effective.

It’s difficult to choose between Carly and Leah as my favourite characters – if I had to choose, I’d say that the past Carly and present day Leah are my favourites. Carly is the eldest of the three sisters, and is just 13 years’ old when her and her twin half-sisters are abducted and taken from their family home. After being thrown into such a stressful situation, Carly immediately assumes the role of the “mother” and takes on the responsibility and care of her sisters. She’s very strong and brave, and she keeps her sisters safe time and time again. But it’s important to remember that Carly is just a young girl herself and is extremely vulnerable. She’s often upset and scared herself, but puts on a brave face in front of her sisters. I really looked up to Carly, and felt that she was an exceptionally well-written character.

In the present day, Leah is really struggling to cope. She suffers with an extreme form of OCD and anxiety, and her compulsions are becoming very bad again as they approach the 20th anniversary of the kidnapping. She loves her husband George and son Archie fiercely, and will do anything to protect her family. When her sister Marie goes missing, Leah knows that something is off, and she sets about discovering the truth behind the sisters’ disappearance all those years ago. Once she begins looking, Leah falls deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole and she finds herself in some very dangerous situations; but ultimately, she will do anything to keep her family safe. Leah is a very troubled but inspiring character, and I felt a great deal of sympathy towards her whilst reading.

Marie has also experienced her fair share of troubles. She struggles with alcoholism, drug use and anorexia, as well as mental health issues and promiscuity. She’s a failing actress who is struggling to make ends meet, living in a messy and dirty flat whilst attending various theatre auditions. When Marie disappears one day, the family believe she has just jetted off to attend another audition – although sister Leah thinks there’s more to her disappearance…

** TRIGGER WARNING ** (I apologise for any spoilers here.) This novel explores the themes of child abduction and imprisonment, including all the grizzly details of their kidnapping and poor conditions they are forced to live in. The novel includes scenes of abuse, including both physical and emotional violence. The theme of mental illness is also explored in great detail – specifically trauma, OCD and anxiety. Substance abuse is also referenced throughout the novel, particularly alcoholism and drug use. The novel includes scenes of a sexual nature which some readers may find uncomfortable. As you can see, the novel explores a lot of dark themes. All of these issues are explored with appropriate sensitivity – but if you feel that they may trigger a negative response, I suggest you skip this book.

As the past narrative motors onwards, the situation for the three sisters becomes increasingly dangerous, and they must work together in order to escape the evil men that hold them captive. As the present narrative progresses, the characters finally discover the truth about their disappearance, and find themselves in a life-or-death scenario. Will they ever be able to put aside their differences – before it’s too late?!

So, let’s talk about the ending. There’s a very dramatic end scene in which the characters’ find themselves in an extremely dangerous situation. They must put all their differences aside and work together in order to survive. The scene is jam-packed full of action and suspense – I was practically on the edge of my seat whilst reading! I was really satisfied with the ending and felt that it tied all the events of the novel together brilliantly. A fantastic ending to a fantastic thriller!

Overall, I highly recommend this to you psychological thriller lovers out there, particularly if you like reading books about abduction or disappearances. With excellently-written characters, plenty of suspense and mystery, and a final killer ending – what more could you want?! I personally couldn’t fault this book if I tried, and it is now sitting proudly on my “favourites” bookshelf. I urge you all to go out and buy this book – I promise you won’t regret it!

Happy reading 🙂

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