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8 of the most dysfunctional sibling relationships in fiction

What is it about siblings?

The good thing is you grew up together, so they really know you. They know what you’ve been through, the hard times you’ve endured, and they’ve been by your side every step of the way. The bad thing is you grew up together, so they really know you. Siblings know how to push your buttons better than anyone else. And they will do it, just as you will do it to them.

Mix all of this together, and you have all the ingredients necessary for a great novel. Here are some of my favorite books about dysfunctional siblings.

The Van Apfel Girls are Gone by Felicity McLean

The Van Apfel Girls are Gone by Felicity McLean

Australian writer Felicity McLean wrote this haunting story about three sisters who disappeared on the same day and their childhood friend who is – and always has been – obsessed with them. Part mystery, part coming-of-age novel, and completely fascinating.

Beside Myself by Ann Morgan

Beside Myself by Ann Morgan

What could go wrong when six-year-old twin sisters decide to switch identities? In this book, one of the sisters doesn’t want to switch back. Twenty-five years later, they still haven’t. Or did they ever? A tragic literary thriller about sibling relationships, lies, and mental illness.

Goodnight Stranger by Miciah Bay Gault

Goodnight Stranger by Miciah Bay Gault

After their mother dies, Lydia is left to take care of her brother, Lucas. Years later, when they’re both adults, a stranger appears at their door. Lucas believes he is their brother – or the reincarnation of him, because he died when he was a baby. Lydia has to find the truth. Beautifully written and full of twists.

The Favourite Sister by Jessica Knoll

The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

In her second book, Jessica Knoll explores the love-hate relationship between sisters Brett and Kelly. And where’s the best place to do that? On a reality show, of course. Knoll’s second book is just as snarky and brutal as Luckiest Girl Alive.

The Ice Twins by S K Tremayne

The Ice Twins by S K Tremayne

Sarah and Angus have twin girls, Lydia and Kristie. One dies, but which one? They think it’s Lydia… but then Kristie claims she is Lydia. Is she telling the truth? Have they made a terrible mistake? S K Tremayne gives you all the answers in this twisty, enthralling book.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Libby’s family was murdered, and only she and her brother Ben survived. Ben is in prison for the crime and it was Libby’s testimony that put him there. But is that really what happened? Nothing is ever easy in a Gillian Flynn novel, where dysfunction bursts at the seams. This one, her second book, is no exception.

Body Double by Tess Gerritsen

Body Double by Tess Gerritsen

Imagine being a medical examiner and finding a victim who looks exactly like you. Dr Maura has a twin, something she didn’t know until her sister turned up dead. Tess Gerritsen’s fourth book in the Rizzoli & Isles series takes sibling dysfunction up a few notches.

Flowers in the Attic by V C Andrews

Flowers in the Attic by V C Andrews

This book was originally published in 1979 and has become a classic of sibling dysfunction. Nothing good comes from locking children up in an attic for years, and V C Andrews explores every horrific possibility. This book is just as compelling now as it was then.

Who are your favourite dysfunctional siblings in fiction? Let us know in the comments below!

He Started It

Samantha Downing

He Started It

Samantha Downing

Samantha Downing, author of He Started It
Samantha Downing, author of He Started It
Samantha Downing

Samantha Downing was born in the Bay Area, and currently lives in New Orleans, where she is furiously typing away on her next psychological thriller. Her debut novel, My Lovely Wife, was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick and a Sunday Times bestseller, and has been published in twenty-three languages.

Follow Samantha on Twitter.

1 Comment

    You can now add the newly released 50:50 by Steve Cavanagh to the list – two sisters who absolutely loathe each other!

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