Reviews, Awards, and Lists

“Steps from the page and reaches for the throat. Truly a novel that clings to the mind long after the final page—a tour de force of young adult literature.”

—Judges, 2018 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature

“Almost unremittingly tense, Larbalestier’s chilling study of morality, psychopathy, and the nature of evil is narrated by Australian teenager Che Taylor, whose move to New York City with his family only heightens his fears about what his 10-year-old sister, Rosa—who seems entirely devoid of empathy—is capable of.”

Publishers Weekly, (Publishers Weekly Best Books 2016)

“Larbalestier reminds readers of her masterful gift for slippery, unreliable characters … thriller fans will devour this suspenseful, chilling meditation on the roles of nature and nurture in creating dangerous criminals.”

ShelfAwareness, (starred review)

“The plot is devilishly clever, with clues that point to, without giving away, the surprise twists . . . even those with no prior experience of [Larbalestier’s] craftiness will find Che’s helplessness in the face of Rosa’s casual cruelty absolutely chilling.”

The Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books, (starred review)

“A chilling contemplation on human morality, incorporating sharp commentary on privilege, faith, gender identity, and race. Will keep readers riveted from start to finish.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A tense, thrilling rumination on the psychology of evil . . . Rosa is a truly chilling figure.”

School Library Journal (starred review)

“This dark thriller is the 1956 film The Bad Seed meets 2016; readers will be simultaneously terrified when Rosa’s present and afraid to let her out of their sight.”

Kirkus (starred review)

“Haunting is the best way to describe Larbalestier’s latest home run . . . I loved the hidden depth of the secondary characters and found the complexity of the family dynamics familiar and fascinating.”

Romantic Times Book Reviews, TOP PICK

“WOW. JUST wow. There’s so much I love about this book, not least how it seamlessly tells vastly different stories at the same time, each informing the other . . . When I got to the end of My Sister Rosa, I sat for a long moment with a tumult of emotions running through me and the desire to immediately start the book on the first page once again. Highly recommended.”

—Charles de Lint reviewing for Fantasy and Science Fiction

“A spine-chilling psychological thriller you won’t be able to put down.”


“[A] chilling tale of childhood evil.”

The Sydney Morning Herald Books

“A finely crafted psychological thriller.”

Melbourne Review of Books

My Sister Rosa combines compelling characterisation with an expertly paced plot and an atmosphere fraught with tension. The result is a chilling page-turner that will leave your emotions tied up in knots.”


“[My Sister Rosa] is so good: equal parts coming-of-age story and suspense thriller.”


“This psychological thriller leaves hair stuck up on necks and goose pimples on the forearms of whomever holds it. Cold and clever throughout, the novel tiptoes the line between innocence and evil. Your heart breaks for Che as he struggles to control the uncontrollable.”


“A captivating exploration of family, fate, and the fight to outrun them.”


“Manipulative, murderous Rosa is one of the most terrifying villains to come along in fiction in quite awhile.”

Buffalo News

“Larbalestier’s novel is a slow boil, moody and tense . . . Che’s journey toward self-awareness is at times enlightening, at times devastating, and the threat of violence from Rosa is suspenseful and truly terrifying.”

The Horn Book Magazine

“Outstanding . . . This is a subtle but completely unsettling examination of how evil is born and how it is often found in the most unsuspecting places. MY SISTER ROSA is tough to put down and even more difficult to forget.”

New Mystery Reader (5 stars)

My Sister Rosa is an excellent psychological thriller. Highly recommended.”

Dark Matterzine

“The characters in this book were so well done…My Sister Rosa is a clever, creepy, and thought-provoking YA thriller.”

The Bookish Manicurist


Paper Fury

“[A] fantastic book with lots going on and excellent plot twists.”

Loony Literate

My Sister Rosa is a gripping, terrifying, wonderful story that I could not put down.”

Laurie Halse Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of Speak and Ashes

“With My Sister Rosa, Larbalestier brings us a novel that starts out as a quirky family story with a cast of intriguing and likeable characters (even the titular pyschopath), but which quickly races into psychological thriller territory that meets and beats The Silence of the Lambs for suspense—it’s the kind of book that had me literally gasping aloud as it rattled to its incredible conclusion.”

Cory Doctorow, New York Times bestselling author of Homeland

“My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier. Holy crap. Amazing. Terrifying. Wow . . . It’s a permanent presence in my life now. [Justine Larbalestier’s] brain is an amazing and terrifying instrument.”

John Green, New York Times bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars

“Troubling, thoughtful, provocative and wise, My Sister Rosa is a compelling character study, a chilling thriller, and a love letter to the diversity and
vibrancy of NYC!”

—Kass Morgan, New York Times bestselling author of The 100

“An utterly compelling and wonderfully creepy exploration of the many faces of psychopathy. Rosa will stay with you long after you turn the last page.”

Jay Kristoff, New York Times bestselling author of Illuminae, Nevernight and The Lotus War Trilogy

“The evil in the room, across the hall; the evil in the flowery party dress, the evil who just wants a bedtime story—Rosa is more frightening and more adorable than any villain you have ever met. Larbalestier at her tricky, terrifying best.”

E. Lockhart, New York Times bestselling author of We Were Liars

My Sister Rosa is terrifying, brilliant, and heart wrenching. A must read.”

Cindy Pon, author of Serpentine

“Larbalestier masterfully crafts a unique tale about a boy and his kid sister who bring old problems to a new city. It’s darkly funny, a bit disconcerting, and absolutely brilliant!”

Jason Reynolds, New York Times bestselling author of All-American Boys and The Boy in the Black Suit


YALSA’s 2017 Best Fiction for Young Adults

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books Blue Ribbons 2016

Publishers Weekly Best Books 2016

Kirkus Best Books 2016

Shelf Awareness Best Books 2016

Readings Best YA books of 2016

Readings Best Crossover YA Reads of 2016

Dymocks Best Books of 2016

2018 Adelaide Festival Award for Literature, Young Adult Fiction, winner

2017 Anthony Award for Best Children’s/YA Novel, shortlisted

2017 Edgar Award for Young Adult Crime Novel, shortlisted

2017-2018 Green Mountain Book Award, shortlisted

2016 Aurealis Award for Best Horror Novel, shortlisted

2017 Davitt Award for Young Adult, longlisted

2017 Inky Award, longlisted

2017 Indie Book Award for Young Adult, longlisted