THICKER THAN WATER by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Braithwaite’s novella is a compelling story of two sisters caught in a web of jealousy, deceit and lies. It is a take on the deep love and rivalry held by siblings while telling a thrilling and dark story. Korede, the protagonist, considers herself a plain girl with hard edges while her sister Ayoola is described as a bratz doll, petit with curves. As the older sister, Korede naturally feels protective of Ayoola, however as the story unravels it seems Korede and others are the ones in need of protection.

The novella opens with the two sisters in a room where a man has just been murdered. Korede cleans up the room and both sisters proceed to dump the body. It’s an unnerving scene to read mostly because Korede is more impressed with her cleaning skills than concerned about alerting the police like any normal thinking person would. It leaves one wondering who exactly is the psychopath between the sisters. However, as the story goes on, we see that things are not as normal as they should be.

Ayoola may first be perceived as full of herself because she is beautiful, more favoured by her mother and gets anything she wants. But there is a darker side to her. She seems to have no conscience at all, lacks empathy for others and has no understanding of the grave consequences of her destructive actions. She believes she can get away with anything. Ayoola’s background may provide a reason for her behavior.

We are not told much about the girls’ late father. We know he is not missed much by his family and there is a little mystery surrounding his death. There is also the morbid revelation that both girls watched their father die. This may well be a defining moment in the girls’ life. Was this the trigger for Ayoola? Did all men remind her of her overbearing father? Did men have to pay for the sins of her father? Whatever the case may be, Korede is aware her sister has some deep–seated issues and is at a crossroads; torn between saving her sister or Dr. Tade, a co-worker whom Korede has a huge crush on.

In the midst of all these, the only person Korede confides in is Muhtar Yautai, a comatose patient at the hospital she works. It is an unconventional relationship yet the most sincere Korede has with anyone. This heightens the thrill of the read as the reader is left wondering if the truth will ever be revealed and how far Korede is willing to go to protect the ones she loves.

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