The Other Twin was published by Orenda Books on 18 May 2017 and is available to buy here
When India falls to her death from a bridge over a railway, her sister Poppy returns home to Brighton for the first time in years. Unconvinced by official explanations, Poppy begins her own investigation into India’s death. But the deeper she digs, the closer she comes to uncovering deeply buried secrets. Could Matthew Temple, the boyfriend she abandoned, be involved? And what of his powerful and wealthy parents, and his twin sister, Ana? Enter the mysterious and ethereal Jenny: the girl Poppy discovers after hacking into India’s laptop. What is exactly is she hiding, and what did India find out about her? Taking the reader on a breathless ride through the winding lanes of Brighton, into its vibrant party scene and inside the homes of its well- heeled families, The Other Twin is a startling and up-to-the-minute thriller about the social-media world, where resentments and accusations are played out online, where identities are made and remade, and where there is no such thing as truth …
It is hard to know where to start with The Other Twin. The Other Twin is billed as a psychological thriller. In some ways, it works as a dark tale of complicated families and secrets. In other ways, it feels like it should have been a teenage novel with a completely different setting.
The story itself focuses on a rather immature thirty year old woman, who returns to her home town of Brighton. Poppy hears that her younger sister has died, in somewhat tragic circumstances. Poppy suffers a kind of ‘Survivor’s Guilt’, as she starts to reflect on the little sister she lost contact with. Her gut feeling is that India would not have committed suicide. She needs to find the truth. She starts to investigate all of India’s social media profiles, her strange blog and look into her sister’s friends. The mystery of India’s death seems to be linked to a girl named Jenny. Who is Jenny? And what do India’s cryptic blog posts mean?
I tried to like The Other Twin. I came to the conclusion that that I had too many quibbles with it. I did not really connect with any of the characters, which I am sure did not help. I would have liked to have heard far more from India and Jenny. The central character, Poppy, is supposed to be a teacher. Yet she seems to behave like a teenager, time and time again. She runs away from London, leaving her possessions. We find out that in the past, she left her boyfriend when he was ill. She doesn’t even wash her clothes. Terrible for an adult. I think I could have believed in Poppy more, had she been a good ten years or so younger. I did understand her need to make sense of the past and of her relationship with her sister. That had a ring of truth about it.
There is an incredibly strong sense of place. Brighton is very much known for its thriving LGBT scene; plus its many pubs and clubs scattered across the city. I felt that Lucy V. Hay did Brighton justice and gave the Lanes and central Brighton prominence. Anyone who knows Brighton will recognise the vivid descriptions.
However the story itself did not ring true. Without giving too much away, this is a story about intolerance and identity. It is very much up to date. I can’t say more without spoilers. Brighton was the wrong place to set this tale. Brighton is the most laid back place in the UK. It is completely accepting of differences, including those of sexuality and gender. Someone could walk down North Street naked and no one would bat an eyelid. It is that kind of place.
Controversial thoughts here, maybe. I think this would have worked better as a young adult novel, with the sisters as teenagers and having a setting in some kind of tight knit community.
Worth a read, if you enjoy a mystery with bang up to date themes. You might get on with The Other Twin better than I did.
For an alternative perspective on The Other Twin, check out Off the Shelf books