In my personal experience, reading mystery novels goes one of two ways: either the story focuses on an official crime case that the characters are working to solve, or the plot provides a take of the amateur sleuth, trying to reach a resolution of a mystery only they themselves can see or are interested in seeing. I particularly enjoy the latter form of YA mystery, and when I picked up Amelia Brunskill’s The Window, which featured this particular path of mystery, I felt that I made a good choice.
The Window follows the tale of Jess Cutter, a withdrawn teenager and the reserved half of identical twins. Her sister, Anna, was the opposite of Jess’ personality – outgoing where Jess was private, extroverted where Jess was introverted, and yet from the beginning, Jess’ narration ultimately credits an extremely close and substantial relationship between the two girls. So, when Anna’s body was discovered underneath her windowsill after an apparent fall, her death ruled an accident, Jess’ life is disrupted and overturned in ways she had never once considered.
However, something about Anna’s death and the circumstances surrounding it don’t make sense to Jess, and she embarks on a quest to uncover what really happened that night. Along the way, she not only finds clues that paint a bigger picture of what might have happened to Anna, but also that the sister she loved may not have been the person she thought she knew so well.
To be perfectly honest, when I first sat down to read, I found it a little hard to maintain interest; the pacing of the novel was a little shaky in terms of the time-frame I was given to sympathize with the story’s events, and the lack of prior exposure to Anna and Jess’ characters – or even their interactions with one another – made it difficult to empathize with Anna’s death and Jess’ consequent reaction to it. Yet, as the story progressed and I got to know Jess’ mindset and beliefs a little more, I did find myself connecting with Jess and appreciating the realistic element she weaved in with her thoughts about a variety of topics: love, friendship, sisterhood, secrets, and death. While the novel is primarily set in Jess’ narration, it was also interspersed with short vignettes of Anna’s own thoughts prior to her death. That was a great addition to the development of the tale and ensured that there existed a form of Anna’s story unfiltered by Jess’ voice.
Compelling and laced with twists that kept me guessing until the ultimate climax, The Window was a wonderfully captivating mystery, and made for a great read for Brunskill’s debut novel.
The Window by Amelia Brunskill is now available wherever books are sold.