Guest Post: “Five Novels About Siblings” by Fran Dorricott
The BiblioSanctum is very excited to be part of a blog tour hosting author Fran Dorricott with a very special guest post celebrating the release of her book The Final Child! This intense psychological thriller described as perfect for readers of Ruth Ware and S.K. Tremeyne is nearly here, to be published by Titan Books on September 7, 2021. In the meantime, we hope you’ll check out the novel’s synopsis as well as Fran’s post about a topic that fits the story’s theme so well! Have you read any of the books on her list? Tell us in the comments, and be sure to also check out the other stops on the tour!
FIVE NOVELS ABOUT SIBLINGS
by Fran Dorricott
As you might be able to gather from my novels, I’m not an only child. Writing and reading about siblings from the perspectives of other authors has always interested me because we all have such different perceptions of the bonds of sibling-hood and what it means to be a sibling. This is probably why I choose to write about the loss of a sibling, which is one of the worst things I can imagine. While writing The Final Child I took the opportunity to revisit some of my favourite novels about siblings, and I’m excited to present (in no particular order) five of my favourites:
1. Dark Places – Gillian Flynn
It’s true that Gillian Flynn always ends up on my ‘favourite’ lists for just about everything but that’s genuinely because I think her books are a master class in prose, style, character and setting. She truly can build a picture of a world, of a person, of a life in just a few sentences, and Dark Places is my favourite novel for looking at what it means to be loyal to a sibling, of how far they might push us before we turn away for good. The set-up for Dark Places is genius: Libby Day, seven years old when her mother and two sisters were murdered, testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Years later she is approached by a secret society obsessed with famous crimes because they believe Ben was innocent, and she only agrees to humour them so she can turn a profit, but soon gets more than she bargained for.
2. Cuckoo – Sophie Draper
This is another novel I talk about a lot. If you’ve spoken to me about crime books you’ve invariably heard me recommend this one! Draper’s debut novel tells the story of Caro, who returns to her childhood home after the death of her stepmother. Being back raises many questions about the abuse she experienced as a child, and even more questions about why Caro’s sister Steph wasn’t treated the same. It’s a dark, twisty book that really plays on good old-fashioned sibling rivalry, and its use of gothic elements makes it a spooky read.
3. The Ice Twins – S. K. Tremayne
The premise of this one really draws you in immediately: a couple lose one of their twin daughters in an accident, they move to a remote Scottish lighthouse to start over, and shortly afterwards the surviving twin confesses to her parents that she isn’t the child they thought. This one is a wild ride, atmopsheric and underappreciated. These creepy vibes are the kind of tension I try to channel in my own work.
4. The Thirteenth Tale – Diane Setterfield
I hesitated to put this novel on the list but considering it’s the book that made me want to write a spooky crime book about siblings I had to have it! Setterfield’s debut is a masterpiece, part ghost story and part mystery complete with feral twins, an ageing novelist and an imposing gothic house. With her health rapidly declining, reclusive author Vida Winter enlists Margaret Lea, a bookish amateur biographer, to write her biography. With her own family secrets, Lea finds the process of unraveling the past for Winter bringing her to confront her own ghosts. Siblings and a haunting family history in one book is my favourite combination!
5. Flowers in the Attic – V C Andrews
This one is a bit of a wild card and it’s definitely a marmite book because of its style and when it was written, but if we’re looking at books about siblings that have made the strongest impact on me, this is absolutely one of them! It tells the story of four children who are locked in the attic of their grandparents’ house after the death of their father while their mother supposedly works up the courage to tell her father about their existence. It’s a fascinating ride from start to finish, genuinely dark and disturbing in places, but it truly explores the complex family dynamic of four siblings trying to be a complete family unit. Still, to this day, one of the most unsettling novels I’ve ever read.
Erin and her brother Alex were the last children abducted by ‘the Father’, a serial killer who only ever took pairs of siblings. She escaped, but her brother was never seen again. Traumatised, Erin couldn’t remember anything about her ordeal, and the Father was never caught.
Eighteen years later, Erin has done her best to put the past behind her. But then she meets Harriet. Harriet’s young cousins were the Father’s first victims and, haunted by their deaths, she is writing a book about the disappearances and is desperate for an interview. At first, Erin wants nothing to do with her. But then she starts receiving sinister gifts, her house is broken into, and she can’t shake the feeling that she’s being watched. After all these years, Erin believed that the Father was gone, but now she begins to wonder if he was only waiting…
About the Author
Fran Dorricott is an author based in Derby, where she lives with her family, two cats, and three dogs (one of whom weighs more than she does). She loves to tell gothic, inclusive stories and drink copious amounts of tea.
Fran is also a bookseller working in the Derby branch of Waterstones, which is secretly just a way for her to fuel her ridiculous book-buying addiction. Her first novel, After the Eclipse, was released in March 2019. The Final Child (Sept 2021) is her second novel.