Author: Esme Barratt
Sibling Realty came to be on my list because author Esme Barratt held a talk at my local library late last year. I couldn’t attend the talk but offered to review the novel. I love supporting debut authors and the fact that this one is a local made it all the more exciting.
Sibling Realty is set in the idyllic Adelaide Hills, among the history and beauty of rolling hills.
Twin sisters Jodie and Suzie are as close as twins can be and have big dreams of sharing a career, in Real Estate. The night of their graduation tragedy strikes and Suzie is left with a seemingly endless future without her other half.
There is some history of extra sensory abilities in the twins family, though it is no longer spoken about. The twins were often found talking to a portrait of a deceased aunt as youngsters, it was put down to vivid imaginations but the portrait ended up put away; out of sight and all that.
The girls always suspected they had some ability but spent much of their time trying to deny it, not quite as easy to do after the tragic accident that separates them.
The paranormal elements of this story are intriguing. Those who love the idea of spirits remaining earthbound after death will love the way Barratt has incorporated this into the story, those who don’t believe in ghosts should probably give this one a miss.
The history incorporated in Sibling Realty is fascinating. There are some places that may or may not actually exist, but there are also some historical figures and buildings that definitely do exist. I am not a big history buff and my historical knowledge, even of the area I live in, is quite limited but there were names and places that definitely seemed familiar and rang true. I think Barratt has spent quite some time researching the history of the Hills to incorporate some historical fact into her present day fiction.
This though brings me to my only real criticism of Sibling Realty, which is set in the hills where I live and have done for two decades. The town names are very familiar to me and I drive through many of them on a regular basis, they are real towns and some of the places I could pinpoint. One of the towns though is not on any map, it’s a fictional town that I actually think might be an amalgamation of two neighbouring towns, and I can completely deal with that; another author I love has created a fictional town in the middle of real places and it works. My issue with this one is the name is too close and it seems too familiar, having said that I don’t think you would even notice if you weren’t a local.
The entire concept for Sibling Realty, which is set to become a series, is fascinating. I have heard of a lot of things and it seems career paths are only limited by your imagination but it was still a little different to think of advertising a Paranormal Realtor.
The tragic accident that took Jodie’s life is not about to take her dream career, her spirit wants to see Suzie succeed for both of them so when Suzie recovers from her injuries she sets out to get a foot in the door of the real estate business, starting by offering to do a work placement with a reputable local company.
Suzie’s placement offers fantastic on the job experience, learning from successful and experienced realtors. It also offers her training in more than just traditional real estate sales, properties with a long history often have stories, and spirits, attached. Suzie’s spiritual secret weapon gives an added insight many realtors just don’t have.
An intriguing look at life for someone in tune with the spirits surrounding us this is a fascinating read for those who believe in spirits.
The picturesque Adelaide Hills are a central element to this story and lovers of the hills and history will get a real kick out of the way Barratt has woven these two elements of the story. By the end of the book I was trying to place some of these buildings and match them to buildings I have seen in my travels through the Hills.
An interesting debut that will definitely have me on the lookout for follow-up books in the series. Thank you Esme Barratt for such an entertaining read.
Sibling Realty is available in selected local bookshops including Matilda Bookshop in Stirling and Dymocks in the City and from BarrattBooks.com.au.