Beautiful and brutal. These are the first two words that come to mind after finishing Sistersong. In the vein of the modern mythology re-tellings, Holland pairs beautiful prose with strong women and tragic circumstances to weave a masterpiece. As with all myths and fairy tales, this is a cautionary tale that reminds us the value of being genuine, the importance of discernment and to be careful what you wish for.
Keyne, Riva and Sinne are siblings, children of the King of Dumnonia. The kingdom has been abandoned by the Romans but is still struggling with their traditional devotion to the gods of the land and Christianity. We see the effects of a people who believe that magic, celestial festivals and devotion to their gods has left the kingdom prosperous. When the Queen finds herself under the council of a priest, she begins to turn the king and the kingdom to Christianity. This tears at the people and coincides with poor harvests and the increasing threat of war with the Saxons. It also forces Keyne, Riva and Sinne to hide their magical ties and use them in secret. We see the whims and desires of the three lead them down paths that will change the kingdom forever.
This book is so great! It’s right up there for me with Circe, Ariadne and A Thousand Ships as a perfect retelling with feminist themes, sibling rivalry, challenging societal norms and the darker side of religion and magic. I was so caught in the world, I could barely put the book down. The impending doom was easy to see but you hold on to hope that the right side will win out in the end. The writing had me gritting my teeth in frustration, cheering with joy, swelling with pride and mourning with grief (not necessarily in that order!). This is definitely in the running for my favorite book of the year! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I got this edition from Goldsboro books and I think it’s in contention for the most beautiful book I own. What’s the prettiest book on your shelves?