Next of Kin by Kia Abdullah
Next of Kin by Kia Abdullah is a tense courtroom criminal thriller that strikes the reader from the very first pages. The novel opens with a powerful sentence, which reflects one of the strong social issues raised in the text: “It was a strange thing to be jealous of your sister, yet perfectly natural at the very same time.” Leila and Yasmin have always been close to each other, but despite this, there is envy and hidden rivalry in their relationship.
This family’s life changes when Leila forgets her three-year-old nephew in the car on the hottest day of the year. The author masterfully describes “a ringing in the air” and the horror into which the characters drop. The narrative resembles a nightmare, where the reality of what is taking place is constantly questioned: “Is this really happening? How could it be happening to us?”.
Readers who love this genre for its unexpected plot twists will certainly get what they want: hints, like breadcrumbs, are scattered by the author throughout the narrative to give clues about the secret hidden under the apparent simplicity of the story; the increased expectation is satisfied by a series of discoveries that enrich the text with new meaning. However, it may seem that the motivations and decisions of some characters are not supported by proper reasons, which risks depriving the ending of the novel of its desired effect.
Misogyny and competition between women in modern society are some of the themes that add additional depth to the text. Kia Abdullah shows how successful women become targets of condemnation, forced to live under the pressure of prejudice and high expectations. The life of the protagonist falls apart when her fate becomes dependent on public opinion: “It’s strange: all your life, you could believe one thing about yourself but find that you were different when it really mattered”.
Overall, Next of Kin is an immersive and highly entertaining reading, with a masterfully created atmosphere of tension. Exploration of family relationships, marriage and the versatility of human nature are intertwined in a complex palette of feelings, vices, and desires. The author’s attention to detail helps to create believable characters with convincing psychological profiles, and natural, lively dialogue, while the language is rich and descriptive, but light at the same time.