The night my sister was born, the stars died and were reborn in her eyes....
Zuhra and Inara have grown up in the Citadel of the Paladins, an abandoned fortress where legendary, magical warriors once lived before disappearing from the world--including their Paladin father the night Inara was born.
On that same night, a massive, magical hedge grew and imprisoned them within the citadel. Inara inherited their father's Paladin power; her eyes glow blue and she is able to make plants grow at unbelievable rates, but she has been trapped in her own mind because of a "roar" that drowns everything else out--leaving Zuhra virtually alone with their emotionally broken human mother.
For fifteen years they have lived, trapped in the citadel, with little contact from the outside world...until the day a stranger passes through the hedge, and everything changes.
Sara B. Larson is the best-selling and critically acclaimed author of the YA fantasy DEFY trilogy (DEFY, IGNITE, and ENDURE) and the DARK BREAKS THE DAWN duology. Her next YA fantasy, SISTERS OF SHADOW AND LIGHT, comes out November 5th from Tor Teen. She can’t remember a time when she didn’t write books—although she now uses a computer instead of a Little Mermaid notebook. Sara lives in Utah with her husband, their four children, and their Maltese, Loki. She writes in brief snippets throughout the day and the quiet hours when most people are sleeping. Her husband claims she should have a degree in “the art of multitasking.” When she’s not mothering or writing, you can often find her at the gym repenting for her sugar addiction.
I was hooked from the very line: "The night my sister was born, the stars died and were reborn in her eyes…" and literally couldn't stop until I finished it. It has a wonderful, original magic system, a gripping plot, and, above all, it is about sisters whose bond is stronger than any kind of spell. The book has a soothing fairy-tale feel. There is a semi-abandoned Citadel, and a mysterious hedge that keeps the sisters ZUhra and Inara, their mother and their caretaker Sami in, either protecting or imrisoning them within the Citadel's boundaries. There is also a secret gateway/ portal between two worlds through which various monsters can creep into the human world, but which was also the way Paladins (magic warriors) came in to protect us. Zuhra and Inara's father was one of the Paladins, but he disappeared on the night Inara was born, breaking their mother's heart. Zuhra will do anything to help her little sister who has a special plant-growing gift, but also finds it difficult to stay lucid for more than a few minutes a day. When a stranger, a young scholar of Paladins and everything related to them, is let in by the hedge, Zuhra knows this is her chance to find answers to her questions and try to heal Inara at whatever cost. I loved the characters created by Sara B.Larson. They show a complex range of emotions, and develop/ learn throughout the book. For fifteen years Zuhra and Inara led very sheltered isolated life and have a lot to see, experience, and make sense of, both with their minds and their hearts. Can't wait to read the sequel to this great book.
Thank you to Edelweiss and Tor Teen for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.
I believe there are no bad books...just books I don't enjoy, but someone else does. The reason why I avoid to rate a book less than 3 stars is because I do not want to discourage the author from improving, however, If I gave three stars to this one I wouldn't be honest. In fact, if I solely would rate it for my enjoyment only than would be less than two stars. This was the first book I completed this year. Unfortunately, my expectations were not met...not at all. Let me start by saying that I already tried the author's book "Defy". I DNF it at 50% for the very same reason I encountered in this one, but this one I took it to the end because I needed to review it. We follow the story of two sisters that were born from a human and a Paladin. Paladins are people from another dimension and have powers. Zuhra the eldest sister is supposed to be a "normal" human, like her mother but her sister Inara is born with glowing blue eyes which are a confirmation that she is a Paladin like their father. Imagine Frozen's Elsa and Anna but this was like what if instead of Elsa it was Anna who had the magical power. Zuhra is the one with a fiery personality and Inara lives isolated and barely speaks. Sounds amazing and it was a lovely concept. The author improved her writing making it more descriptive and lyrical. The worldbuilding and sisterly love was great too and I liked to see Inara's development. But still, those were not enough to keep me invested in the book. There wasn't one single character I could connect with. The beginning of the book is very slow and the pacing was off. Everyone in this book suffers from insta-love to a point of being insufferable. I'm used to insta-love in almost all YA books I read, but this one was really just over the top. Zuhra meets a boy for the first time, she falls in love at first sight. Then later she sees another guy who is like the most handsome male specimen in the whole world(s) so she falls in love with him also at first sight and forgets the other boy in a second.
Then there are a lot of innuendos in the ritual of healing. I don't know why the author made the quote "inside me" with "inside" in italic. So basically this ritual makes the healer and the person he is healing connected through a soul level and the healer is able to feel emotions and see memories of the other. Apparently healing your love interest increases the bond between you two but not between you and others? More than twenty times we see the quote "your fault; my fault; his/her fault" and even once a "the fault of...". It's a quote that is constant through the book, as I said more than twenty times (yes I counted). It became tiring and repetitive. I'm all for expressing your feelings and emotions and not keeping them to yourself but at the end of the book, I couldn't help but roll my eyes. The main characters were prone to dangerous life-threatening situations and were constantly: - Bleeding. - In tears. Everyone had tears in their eyes, even supporting characters. There were too way many tears: "Hot tears", "cerulean tears", "sheen of tears", "sudden tears", gathering tears", "looming tears", "angry tears", "helpless tears", "Fresh tears", "silent tears", "withheld tears","near tears", "tears spilling", "tears leaking out", "tears burned trails" "filled with tears", "more tears", "tears blurring", "streaked with tears" and it goes on. In sum, this book was not for me. I skimmed through pages at high velocity because my interest was gone not because of the plot but because of the characters. Everyone was one-dimensional and only Inara showed some complexity. I will not be reading the second book but kudos to the author for the beautiful worldbuilding and magic-system and creative plot. I hope in the future to be able to read another book from her with more solid characters.
ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review (Thank you!)
"I was completely swept away with this fierce magical story of broken family, and sisters trying to survive a mysterious past. Romance, betrayal, gryphons, forbidden doorways, and devoted sisters had me flipping the pages to unravel the secrets of this dark world where no one is who they seem to be. Larson has created a spellbinding world that has all the elements I love―magic, mystery, romance, and sisterhood! I can't wait for more!"―Mary E. Pearson, New York Times bestselling author of The Kiss of Deception
"What a stunning gem of a story. Fans of gorgeous, emotional, action-packed fantasy are going to want to snap this up. I loved it so much, I read it in one sitting!"―C.J. Redwine, New York Times bestselling author of the Ravenspire series
“Larson’s bold and imaginative tale of sisterhood, magic, and monsters is a deft exploration of loneliness, family, and friendship inside a citadel hedged by lies and blood.” ―A.G. Howard, #1 New York Times and international bestselling author of The Splintered Series
“Packed with fascinating relationships, pulse-pounding romance, and breathtaking adventure, this story held me captive to every page.”―Kathryn Purdie, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Burning Glass
"Sisters of Shadow and Light is a rare beauty that will grip your heart and steal your breath away. I adored this book!"―Jennifer A. Nielsen, New York Times bestselling author of The Traitor's Game
I am so excited that this book is releasing in 6 months!! To celebrate, I'm revealing blurbs AND doing a giveaway on my IG account (@SaraBLarson). If you want a chance to read it early, make sure to check it out! <3
I have read and loved every single book Sara B. Larson has written including this one. Sisters of Shadow and Light is a brilliantly imaginative and lush world full of magic, wonder, love, sisterhood, family and action. Sisters, Zuhra and Inara were raised in a Citadel walled by a magical giant hedge that keeps the outside world away and them in. The Citadel is all that remains of their father's kind, the Paladins. Beings with great magical powers from another world that came to Vamala (The world the girls live in) to save it from monsters that escaped the Paladin world through a portal. After existing with the humans for a while, the Citadel was created - a safe haven for Paladins which is also where to portal back to their world resides. But the Paladins were betrayed by the Human King and were hunted near to extinction. By the end all that's left is Inara and her powerless older sister Zuhra. The girls were raised in ignorance of not only their legacy but of the world beyond their haven. Any questions or wondering is swiftly silenced by their irrationally very afraid mother who freaks out at anything not normal. Events transpire that shake their peaceful life apart, a strange curious teenage scholar boy is allowed by the sentient hedge wall for no reason known, the sisters get separated by unforeseen circumstances which leave them to find their hidden strengths and fight hard to be reunited. There's so many amazing things about this book, the bond of the sisters which is beautiful and deep, the innocence of the girls which isn't sullied by the cruel world, the ways the magic manifest which is quite refreshing and the Gryphon's (Paladin Companions/Pets) which I simply adore! This is one YA Fantasy book that should not be missed, Fans of Sara B. Larson will not be disappointed. Sisters of Shadow and Light ends on a cliffhanger that simply demands with a fury, the next book. I can't wait to see what's next for these amazing sisters, I highly recommend this book.
Reading almost like a long lost fairy tale, this book takes us on a journey of self discovery, the power of forgiveness and the lengths two sisters will go to save one another and I enjoyed every second.
“Sisters of Shadow and Light” follows two young women hidden behind a hedge that threatens anyone who tries to enter, or more importantly leave. Zuhra remembers little from the night her sister was born other than it was the last time her mother was happy and her family whole, and since then she has gone out of her way to provide love and support to the one person who knows what it’s like to feel alone. Inara spends her time lost in her mind with her only anchor being that of her older sister when a stranger arrives setting off a chain of events that pushes both women to uncover the secrets of the past and embark on a journey that hopes to heal even the deepest of wounds.
This reminded me a bit of ‘Strange the Dreamer’ as it brought us the tension between those who are known as the Paladin and the humans who fear them as well as the children a forbidden union helped create.
Both sisters followed this parallel journey where one was treated with disdain for her oddness and the other met the same fate when she became lost in a world far different than the Citadel in which she lived thanks to the mysterious hedges that were hellbent on keeping the family within its walls.
Anyone who has a sister can instantly connect with the love these two share for each other, especially if you have ever had to be the one who had to become the parent because the actual guardian couldn’t or wouldn’t step up, and I’m so glad that that stayed as the driving focus for the book as a whole especially once it expands into this larger world where it could easily have been sidelined in favor of different relationships.
I really enjoyed this book and I’m curious to see how the sequel handles some of the bigger moments be it reconciliations or falling outs that are in need of some more conversation that support the main plot which I’m sure can only get more interesting if the introduction the the main threat was any indication as to where we’re going!
**special thanks to the publishers and edelweiss for providing an arc in exchange for a fair and honest review**
Two sisters grow up in an abandoned citadel that once was home to magical Paladin Warriors. For more than fifteen years they’ve been trapped behind a sentient, deadly hedge until a young man is mysteriously allowed through. Zuhra has always protected her baby sister Inara but the hope of escape and possibly love is something that burns brightly within her. Inara’s appearance brands her as half Paladin but many forget that so too is Zuhra and that’s something no one should ever overlook ! I truly enjoyed this and thought the pace was excellent. Initially it’s quiet , almost placid and allows the reader to understand the complex relationships that exist within the citadel. Then everything changes as the sisters are separated and it truly took on a vibrancy with new characters and endless possibilities. This is just the start of this series and I definitely will want to read more. This voluntary take is of a copy I requested from Netgalley and my thoughts and comments are honest and I believe fair
SISTERS OF SHADOW AND LIGHT is about two sisters who have been trapped in an abandoned citadel with their mother and nurse for fifteen years--since the night the younger sister was born and their Paladin father disappeared. Then a stranger shows up and everything changes.
I loved this book. The magic was mesmerizing, the romance realistic and swoon-worthy, and the twists completely unexpected but perfectly logical. And the bond between the sisters was, of course, the very best part.
DNF at the 60% mark. I swiftly lost interest at the one third mark, when the character is shut up in her room by her mother. There is very little plot and endless internal monologue, most of which is inconsequential. Very sad not to have liked this, as the first few chapters were absolutely riveting.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
2.5 Meh.#nothingtoseehere #walkonby I found this pretty boring; it hardly held my interest. The pace and events did pick up but too late for me. The voice of the two main characters was intensely irritating- they’d never seen men before the story begins and they became all swoony the moment they did. The writing was very over written (if that’s a thing!), lots of pounding pulses and aching hearts. The world building redeemed this slightly for me- there was potential for a much better story- who doesn’t love a paladin in a fantasy story or gryphons? This might be the book for you. Each to their own!
I was really looking forward to this one. I literally started it the day I was approved and yet it took me a lot longer to read than it normally takes. I found myself not wanting to pick it up again for a couple reasons. Finally after a few days of not reading anything, I picked it up once again. Unfortunately, it didn’t get better for me.
One of the bigger issues I had with this book was the characters. They were just okay and a lot of the things they did were eye-roll worthy. Zuhra was the biggest offender and got the most eye-rolls. The only good quality she possessed was the love she had for her sister. She would have done anything for her and I can appreciate that since I have sisters. It wasn’t enough to make me like her since every encounter with a boy had her talking about how attractive he was. She also instantly felt attracted to them in a way. She gets upset when the first doesn’t like her back and it’s like, what do you expect? You haven’t even known him for that long!
It didn’t just stop there when it came to Zuhra. Two more guys get introduced and the same thing happens again expect for with one but that doesn’t mean he is off the hook. There is still a cringey scene with that one.
When it came to her sister, not much was really known about her, besides the fact that she had great power, and not really any dialogue until around 38%. At that point, the book is then two point-of-views. Even with this, I thought Inara was just okay and besides her power she just didn’t intrigue me. Just like her sister, she falls for a guy quite easily with little interaction between them to ever have a relationship. Besides, not sure why she would like him since he is only obsessed with paladins. It seems that would be the only reason for him liking her.
The plot about paladins was unique and had its moments of being good. Besides not being able to like any of the characters, the book was filled with lots of cliches that I tend to not like. It was off-putting and not for me. I also guessed a lot of twists besides one and even then it didn’t make too much sense but I am assuming more will come from that in book two.
The writing style at the beginning was very beautiful but then when Zuhra started doing her it quickly felt different and the two styles just didn’t mesh.
Overall, this one just wasn’t for me. I wanted to like it, I really did. Sadly, we can’t like every book we read.
eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
I received this galley from the publisher via NetGalley.
Sisters of Shadow and Light twists around many traditional fantasy tropes in ways that feel fresh and fun. You have a mysterious castle, isolated by a sentient hedge. A family lives inside, though some may consider them monstrous. A mother, a servant and friend, and two teenage girls. Zuhra and Inara have never been beyond the hedge. They dare not. Inara was born with the glowing eyes of a Paladin, the entities who built their home and who were once the celebrated heroes of the realm; public opinion is not as kind now. Inara is so overwhelmed by her power, a roar that consumes her senses, that she can barely interact with the world. Her older sister Zuhra is her fierce advocate and defender--and desperately want to know about the world beyond the hedge.
Then one day, the hedge actually lets a strange man through, and the girls' world begins to change in radical ways.
Larson does a wonderful job of allowing readers to discover the outer world through the sisters' experiences, but the family dynamics are the true heart of the book. There is a great deal here about sisterly love, and also about abuse and forgiveness. Their mother was utterly broken when her Paladin husband vanished the night Inara was born, and she protects her daughters through deprivation and cruelty. There's a grim note of realism about their relationships, and I loved seeing how the family grew and changed. To me, that was much more interesting than the romantic entanglements of the siblings.
I found this YA fantasy to be a fast, breezy read--I blazed through it in a day! It will be released on November 5th, 2019.
What an interesting read! My first experience with Sara B. Larson and I wasn't disappointed. I think my favorite thing about the story was that first and foremost the sisterly bond between Zuhra and Inara took the front seat of it all.
There is romance inside of this story but it doesn't overshadow the overall plot OR bond between the sisters.
I heard many compare this to Strange the Dreamer, and while I haven't read that book YET, I can compare the writing style to Laini Taylor. So if you're a fan of her altogether, I would say jump into this.
To be completely honest with you (and that's the only way to be when writing a book review), I requested this book for review from Netgalley because I mistook the author for someone else: someone whose books I had previously enjoyed and whose other books were on my to-read list.
I was so wrong. I've never read a Sara B Larson book before this one.
Apart from the case of mistaken identity, I was drawn to the use of the word Paladin because I'm an old-school WarCraft player (not World of, we're talking Tides of Darkness and Reign of Chaos and boy am I looking forward to Reforged coming in 2020!) and Larson's paladins share quite a few features with the familiar Warcraft ones: an outright obsession with the colour blue, healing powers, riding gryphons (although in WC3 it was dwarves who rode gryphons, but the similarities are there). It was at once comforting and strangely familiar to read this book, when it seemed like an alternative universe fanfic of the WarCraft paladins.
However, this book took forever for me to read. The first half was interesting: all the set up and worldbuilding was engaging, and I really loved seeing the genuine sisterly connection between Zhura and Innara, two girls trapped in a castle with their strict mother, and a servant (because god knows we can't have teenage girls doing monotonous chores).
Then something interesting happened and a new POV was introduced at about 40% through, and from then on, I really struggled to finish the book. I didn't find it engaging, and even though there was plenty of conflict, I found the romances all way too obvious and uninteresting and really quite shallow, and the magic of the sisters together was gone as they were now separated. The world building from that point on kind of lagged along with the plot, and I found myself bored and unengaged, putting down my Kindle to look at social media instead.
I didn't mind the instalove, because Zhura was raised by an obviously psychotic, villainous mother (who starved her own daughter) to prepare for a husband, even though they were trapped behind a magical hedge, cut off from the rest of civilisation. Of course Zhura was going to instantly love whichever man would be the first she set eyes on. It made sense so me, and I wasn't mad about it. But I didn't like the second guy she fell for either, because he was the only one in a new group of people who got a detailed description, and from then on it was all about the way he looked with some attempt at magical bonding to explain these feelings, and I really couldn't tell why either of the characters were interested in the other, or even if they were since they were both in such denial about it.
I was also approaching this book as a stand-alone, and I found that although I really enjoyed the first half, the second half wasn't engaging enough for me to want to find out what happens next in the sequel.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Mystery surrounds Zuhra and Inara. Secrets whose answers seem just out of reach for Zuhra who so desperately tries to take care of her sister, Inara, and gain the approval of her mother. Zuhra carries the weight of the world on her shoulders. I could feel her longing, isolation and her discouragement in the beginning.
After a slow start, this book gained momentum and I was pulled deeper and deeper in. By the end I was reading so fast, desperate to know what was going to happen next. It's hard to say much without giving things away but I loved how the story expanded. It started out small and grew and grew to include more people, places and emotions. It was really good and very engaging.
My biggest complaint is where the story ended- on the edge of a cliff with me hanging off. Seriously, cliff hangers are the worst. This is a series I would rather read after the whole thing is finished because waiting another year for the next book is crazy! Ugh. So far away.
Content: peril, some mild violence, kissing
- I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.
Sisters of Shadow and Light by Sara B. Larson is the first book in the series of the same name and if you know me at all, just by reading the summary you know this story is exactly what I look for in my books. I was so excited that I was able to get my hands on an early copy of this book because of that reason but also, I have loved Larson’s other books so I didn’t really have any doubts that this would be the same.
Zuhra and Inara are sisters and have grown up in the Citadel of the Paladins which is an abandoned fortress where legendary magical warriors one lived…before they left the world. There is a backstory here that will come out as you read the book and I thought Larson did a great job of revealing this to the reader. I thought things were revealed around this part of the story at a good pace. As for Zuhra and Inara, they didn’t really have a choice where they lived though, as the hedge surrounding the citadel has kept them trapped inside since the day Inara was born.
The day Inara was born was a critical day for many reasons. First, that was the day their Paladin father disappeared, and their mother became someone Zuhra didn’t recognize. Second, it appears that Inara was born with their father’s Paladin powers and not only do her eyes glow blue, but she can make plants grow and because of her power, Inara has been trapped in her own mind with the exception of some rare occasions where the noise in her brain quiets down enough for her to talk with Zuhra. The outcome is that Zuhra is left on her own with their broken mother who refuses to engage with Inara.
I loved the relationship that Larson developed for these two characters. It didn’t matter that Inara couldn’t speak or in most cases articulate what she needed. Zuhra loved her no matter what and eventually she decides she needs to do something to escape their cage and their mother. With little to no interaction with the outside world, Zuhra knows it won’t be easy, but she will do anything to protect her sister. Just when she thinks she has things figured out, the hedge opens up and lets someone in and everything changes.
Larson has built out this world where there is danger around every corner. Whether it is from monsters or people, and the history between humans and the Paladins has created a situation where fear rules a lot of the decisions made. She has also created a cast of characters I could get behind. Not only the sisters, but we get introduced to Halvor, Raidyn, Loukas, and so many more. Their stories are so well-developed that I couldn’t help but get invested in them right along with Zuhra and Inara.
I can’t say too much about the details of the book because I don’t want to give anything away but what I will tell you is that after Halvor enters the Citadel, things start to happen. A hunt begins for clues to help Zuhra and Inara escape the Citadel but when Inara finds the Paladin gateway in the Hall of Miracles, everything takes a turn and the sisters end up separated. It’s at this point that Inara, along with those still in the Citadel, start to figure out what happened. Not only is that happening, but Zuhra, having been dragged through the gateway, is now in a world she never knew she would get to and surrounded by those she never expected to meet.
Experiencing the story from both Inara’s and Zuhra’s perspectives after they were split up, made it interesting because as a reader I was able to see what was happening in both worlds. There were so many things happening on both sides of the gateway that it was key to tying the whole story together.
I know I’m being fairly vague but that’s because I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone. What I will tell you is that this book focuses on family and what people will do to protect the ones they love. There is magic, gryphons, plenty of action, and swoony bits so if you’re looking for a fantasy that has all of that (and more) and will keep you turning the pages to see how things turn out, consider picking up this book. I will definitely be grabbing the next book as soon as I can so I can find out what happens next.
Thank you to the publisher and the author for the early copy in exchange for an honest review.
How come I never really heard about this book? I saw it randomly at the library and it looked good, but I haven't heard anything about it. That is pretty sad, because this book was good.
The beginning definitely gave me frozen vibes.
Two sisters basically quarantined (we all feel their pain). Trapped in this castle by a magical hedge that won't let them through. One of the sisters has amazing powers. So definitely similar, but there was also a great uniqueness to the story.
I really enjoyed it. The writing was great, the world exciting, and the two sisters interesting. My one problem was the whole book is dual POV and goes from one sister to the other each chapter. And it felt like every chapter ended on some cliffhanger. I found one sisters story more interesting, so I was bugged having to go back to the other sister. It would have been nice to have a few of Inara's chapters, but mainly just focus on Zuhra. But that was just a personal preference.
SISTERS OF SHADOW AND LIGHT is a book that takes readers back to ancient history and a fantasy world found through a gate. The characters are likable and easy to relate to, with complex relationships between family, friends, and love interests. Then there's the story, which is full of tension, loss, pain, love, determination, and magic. A book to easily get lost in from the beginning to the very last page. Highly recommended to fantasy readers!
I've read several series where there are gates to other fantasy worlds. Not all of them handle this trope well, but Larson does an excellent job in making it believable and work in this story. The ancient world and the fantasy world both felt realistic and believable, although I would have liked them fleshed out a little more. I still have a few lingering questions. I did love the way magic worked in this world and how it is wielded. I'm looking forward to discovering more as the characters figure things out in the future.
I liled the characters from the beginning! They each had their own weaknesses, faults, and strengths and there were moments when I wanted them to move forward more, but these more difficult parts also felt realistic. Some things that usually might've bothered me didn't here because of the background of these characters (like if you go your whole life never being around boys, would you know how to react to them; or never knowing your father, other family or others like you, how would you react to those new experiences; and how do you know who to trust when magical bonds are thrown into the mix and you've been naively sequestered your whole life?). There were so many different relationships and they were each complex, which just added to the emotional pull of the story. There was a touch of romance, but it felt like a beginning, something that will grow more as the series progresses, and not the main focus of the story. Foremost, this was a story of the bond of sisters, the friction of two worlds colliding, of growing into your own, and fighting for family and love.
In the end, was it what I wished for? I literally could not put this one down! It held my interest from beginning to end. If you like stories that are a balance between character and plot driven, and enjoy new love, complex relationships, and fantasy then this is definitely one I'd recommend.
Content: Some innuendo and violence, but clean. Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through NetGalley through the Fantastic Flying Book Club, which did not require a positive review. All opinions are my own.
#SistersofShadowandLIght #Edelweiss A beautifully written novel about the love between two sisters and the lengths that we will go to protect and keep that bond. Sara B. Larson has a fantasy novel that will make you feel emotional about how we love our family.
I am so close to my sister so reading this book and the bond Inara and Zuhra have for each other really hit close to home. My sister and I may be 5,000 + miles apart but it doesn’t stop us from feeling that bond for one another.
Zuhra has always taken care of her sister. She’s calmed her during the storms and protected her from the brunt of her mother’s coldness. When they get separated the loss she feels is so strong that all she can do is fight for a way back. She needs to know if her sister is alive. Zuhra not only has to deal with the not knowing if Inara is okay but she’s now been bombarded with a world she’d been isolated from her entire life. I thought that Zuhra dealt with the separation of all that she’s known fairly well. She’s curious about this new world, a world her mother kept from her, but is conflicted by the need to get home. As the older sister myself I could really relate to a lot of Zuhra’s feelings when it comes to protecting and worrying about her sister. I thought that Sara did a wonderful job of portraying the conflict she feels about her situation.
Inara has always been caught up in the storm raging inside her head. She doesn’t understand it and with only limited lucidity throughout her life she rarely understands what goes on around her. It’s all a fog and she spends so much time trying to navigate it all. When she learns to expense her power she realizes that she gets more and more lucidity but when she expenses it almost completely, and loses her sister, she’s not so sure she wants to live in the world around her. Society hates what she is because of those who came before her and when she experiences it first hand she realizes she has to find a way to bring her sister back, or to go through the gateway herself, in order to protect herself and those within the citadel. I really enjoyed her chapters and getting to see inside her head. Sara did a great job of portraying the fog that Inara feels when she loses herself.
Although it is slow in the beginning in explaining the situation Zuhra and Inara are in, the story definitely picks up. I think that it was good to split them up for a time and we get to see two new worlds, one where the paladins come from and the other outside of the citadel. The rest of the story is fast paced and I can’t wait to learn more about the paladin’s and to see what happens next.
Don’t worry…for those romantics out there. You won’t be disappointed in the love interests in this one!
What a beautiful book. Sisters of Shadow and Light is everything I love about fantasy novels. It actually reminds me of a grown-up version of The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine, one of my all-time favourite fantasy novels. Sisters of Shadow and Light has so many elements woven together: a sisterly bond that is incredibly strong, a family torn apart and devastated by grief, a barrier between worlds, a magical world with monsters and griffins and magical powers, a fairytale feeling that is both dark and powerful and hopeful and light in the way that only fairytales can be, and some really strong, swoony romance. It’s also a duology!!! And I can’t wait to get my hands on the second book.
Zuhra would do anything for her sister, Inara. She can’t take away the constant roar that drowns out anything else for her sister, leaving her unable to communicate and do little more than mindlessly tend to the garden in their hidden citadel, the citadel that once housed the Paladin - magical warriors who rode winged griffins. She can’t make their cold, distant mother, broken-hearted since their Paladin father disappeared on the night Inara was born, care for her sister. She can’t free them from the living hedge that surrounds their home, protecting the from the people outside, but also trapping them securely within its borders. So when the hedge unexpected allows a young scholar to enter, Zuhra risks encountering her mother’s wrath by asking Halvor to share his knowledge of the Paladin and their magic, in the hopes of freeing Inara and herself from the things that hold them captive.
The elements of the book, the complex history of the Paladin, the magic, even Zuhra and Inara’s history is a mystery to Zuhra—and therefore the reader—for much of the first half of this book. As Zuhra slowly learns more, as her world unfolds, the true magical breadth and depth of this story, and its worlds, is uncovered. And I loved it. It is so much more than I expected. And there is still more to learn.
The sisterly bond between Inara and Zuhra is the obvious stand-out relationship in this book. The love the two share is clear. They would do anything for the other. But those actions have consequences.
Romance also has a big part in this book. As Zuhra meets different men, the very first time she has encountered guys her age, she must learn the difference between friendship, attraction and love. And this is only complicated further by the magical bonds forged by healing powers. I can’t wait to see how the romance, both Inara and Zuhra’s, develops in the second book.
I loved Sisters of Shadow and Light. I was blown away by the writing and captured by the world building. And the complex and loveable characters just sealed the deal. I can’t wait to give this to our library’s fantasy lovers and highly recommend it for fans of fairytale retellings, Maria V. Snyder’s Study series, and Brigid Kemmerer’s Cursebreakers series.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
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(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Sisters of Shadow and Light is a story that grows in complexity. At the beginning we aren't sure what keeps them trapped. Why the magic seems to have turned against them. Like Inara and Zuhra, trapped in isolation, we as readers are confused about what has happened. Therefore we are able to empathize with these sisters as they find out how different the world is to what they expected. There's magic screaming in our mind, enchanted vines that keep those out, and a lingering question in the air.
I love that I was promised a book about sisterhood and I got it! My favorite part of Sisters of Shadow and Light is the relationship between Inara and Zuhra, their complete love for each other. In a world that seems to pit them against each other, a family they don't understand, their love is the only guiding force they have. A complex relationship between the sisters and their mother is a constant in their life. What I also loved about Sisters of Shadow and Light is how honest the portrayal of sisterhood is.
First of all - Thank you to netgalley for giving me an arc in exchange for a review!
This book does not start slow. There is so much going on from right at the beginning and that’s what I liked about it. Definitely not slow paced! I liked the relationship between the sisters and the story and plot was actually really good! But- I wasn’t really invested in the book and got through it only because I had too. I think that maybe the evolution of the storyline could have been a little more attractive and the characters could have been made worth investing into! A good read if you are into this genre.