Sunday 4 April 2021


Book review: Sistersong by Lucy Holland [blog tour]

I adore a good piece of ancient fantasy, particularly reimaginings of classic myths, legends, fairy tales, and ballads that hero characters often sidelined in the original. Circe by Madeline Miller details the story of a minor character from The Odyssey and is one of my all-time favs. So when I saw Sistersong by Lucy Holland was likened to this incredible book, I was instantly sold. Based on The Two Sisters, an old British murder ballad from the mid-seventeenth century, it answers the question of what happened to the third sister who appears in some versions of the original tale.

For decades, King Cador has kept his people and their land safe with magic given to them by their gods. But as Christianity is slowly taking over in England, the people seem to forget about the old ways and their magic is slowly disappearing. This leaves them open to threats, in particular that of the nearing Saxons, and a war is imminent. King Cador's three children each have a role to play in the harrowing story that is about to unfold... 

Riva is the eldest. She is scarred and traumatised by an accident from her youth. While she is a healer by nature, she's unable to heal herself. Keyne is the middle sibling. Quiet but determined, struggling to be recognised for who they truly are. Sinne is the youngest daughter. Lighthearted and carefree, until she discovers something that makes her rethink everything she thought she knew. The story is told through the eyes of the three siblings in alternating chapters. While some of these are slow-burners to begin with, others are fast-paced from the start. And, ultimately, the stories intertwine into one explosive finale. 

Sistersong was so multi-layered and complex, which is what made it such an incredibly gripping read. There's the story of the battling religions and the slowly disappearing magic. Then there's the three siblings on their journeys of (magical) discovery. And finally there is the Saxons. The impending threat of these brutal warriors inching closer every day, lingered terrifyingly at the edges of the pages. It also rooted the story in real historical events, making the magical elements feel more plausible. 

It's hard to talk about this book – or the three siblings at the heart of it – without giving anything of importance away. What I will say, however, is that while some plot points are perhaps fairly obvious throughout, there are many other developments, particularly towards the end, that will take readers on a rollercoaster journey of emotions. Trust me. I still haven't fully recovered.

Sistersong may seem like a classic tale of good versus evil at first, but the stories within are so nuanced that sometimes it becomes hard to determine which is which. There are battles and scars, war and fire. But there's also friendship and magic, romance and self-discovery. At the heart of it though this is the story of three siblings becoming who they truly are and coming to terms with it. They're as different as can be, but they're bound together by blood, magic, and a shared history. A history which will ultimately decide their destinies.

by Lucy Holland is published this week by Pan Macmillan and you can order your copy now from your favourite book shop!

Blog tour stops for Sistersong by Lucy Holland

This review for Sistersong is a part of the official blog tour for the launch of the book. Make sure you check out the other stops for more content!

Disclaimer: This book was gifted to me by the publisher, but this has not impacted this honest review. 

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