Sistersong by Lucy Holland
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I was sent a copy of this novel by the publishers to review, however this has no bearing on my rating or review.
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.
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Sistersong is one of the most beautifully crafted novels I have read, it tells the story of Riva, Keyne and Sinne, three siblings who’s dreams and ambitions are wildly different from each other but together they are the only hope of keeping themselves and their people safe. This book was a joy to read, the writing was fluid and elegant yet stayed true to the era it is written about. The story is told from the perspectives of the three main characters, all three reveal their secrets and desires in their own chapters but keep them well hidden from their siblings creating tensions between them. I felt fully immersed in the storyline from the beginning to the end!
Keyne was most definitely my favourite character of the book, Keyne wishes to be seen as the King’s son, he makes himself very clear from the beginning of the novel that he has always thought of himself as a boy and is desperate for everyone else to accept him as a man. I loved reading about a trans character in sixth century Britain and the way in which Keyne expressed his identity, I also loved reading about how accepted Keyne was by his sisters. As the oldest Riva most definitely struggled with the responsibilities put upon her, in particular because of the trauma she still experienced from being burnt in a fire. I enjoyed Riva’s storyline throughout the book, her feelings and actions were always a little bit predictable but I think that’s due to her naivety and how open she was about her emotions. Sinne, the youngest and the dreamer of the family, she expected everything to be handed to her which definitely made me dislike her at first but she was sheltered and craved adventure.
A strong element of the story was the focus on magic versus Christianity as this book discusses the rise of Christianity within Britain, I found this fascinating as I had never read a fictional story set prior to the spread of Christianity. Although the King and his wife had turned away from the Old Ways, Riva, Keyne and Sinne were still determined to continue with the rituals, celebrations and magic they knew and loved. The author has created wonderfully detailed scenes of ancient festivals and celebrations within the story to depict the lives of characters during the sixth century.
Lucy Holland has created Sistersong based off an old ballad called The Twa Sisters (The Two Sisters), the ballad focuses on an older and younger sister and only some variations mention a third sibling. However although this story is based off the ballad, Sistersong focuses most heavily on Keyne, the middle sibling, I think Keyne’s likeability steals the spotlight for most readers. This is a novel I will definitely be highly recommending for fans of historical fiction, or for anyone who fancies a novel with a mix of both fantasy and history.
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