Book Review: Sistersong by Lucy Holland

535 AD. In the ancient kingdom of Dumnonia, King Cador’s children inherit a fragmented land abandoned by the Romans.

Riva, scarred in a terrible fire, fears she will never heal.
Keyne battles to be seen as the king’s son, when born a daughter.
And Sinne, the spoiled youngest girl, yearns for romance.

All three fear a life of confinement within the walls of the hold – a last bastion of strength against the invading Saxons. But change comes on the day ash falls from the sky, bringing Myrddhin, meddler and magician, and Tristan, a warrior whose secrets will tear the siblings apart. Riva, Keyne and Sinne must take fate into their own hands, or risk being tangled in a story they could never have imagined; one of treachery, love and ultimately, murder. It’s a story that will shape the destiny of Britain.

Sistersong is not actually a book I would have chosen to pick up myself, I read it as it was the Goldsboro GSFF club choice for April. I joined the club so I expanded my SFF reading past what I would usually pick and having seen some great reviews for it was excited to try it for myself.

Unfortunately, for me this one was a real mixed bag. Told from the POV of the three siblings I found my enjoyment of the story was very much dependent upon who’s chapter it was (although sometimes I got confused about who’s turn it was – Riva and Sinne’s voices weren’t always very distinct).

The book started strong with Keyne meeting the witch in the forest and then trailed off rather a lot. For the first half of the book I found Keyne incredibly frustrating to read. I could tell the author had plans for them but for the first half of the book their sole personality was their gender identity. I understand this was a hugely important part of Keyne but it shouldn’t have been everything they were. The second half of the book where we got to know Keyne properly and they actually showed some personality was much more enjoyable and engaging to read.

Sinne and Riva both felt a little underused to me, there was clearly a lot more to Sinne that we never got to see. I liked her parts of the story but I wish she’d had a bit more. Riva a bit like Keyne seemed to have one aspect that the author focussed on – her burns – and so didn’t develop a whole lot of personality beyond that. It’s a shame as there was enough in the writing to keep me reading until the end of the book, although I did consider DNF at one point.

Once the action kicked in, in the latter part of the book, I found the whole story much more engaging and I read the second half twice as fast as the first. The battle scenes were full of energy and well crafted, lending the book the pace it needed.

I know a lot of people have loved this one but it just didn’t work well for me.

Sistersong is available now.

You can purchase a copy from Broken Binding bookstore here. If you use promo code MUGFULL1232 you get a 5% discount (I also receive 5% of the sale price)