Sisters of Shadow and Light

  • TitleSisters of Shadow and Light
  • AuthorSara B. Larson
  • Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
  • Publication Date:  November 2019
  • Publisher: Tor Teen
  • Rating: 2/5 stars

“The night my sister was born, the stars died and were reborn in her eyes…”.

Sisters of Shadow and Light was creative, imaginative, and fantastical – but the writing fell flat. The first few chapters hooked me, and I settled into what I thought would be a superb read, filled with gryphons, paladins, a citadel, and magic.

But the technique was subpar – the characters were weak, emotions were superficial without giving the time needed to build up to them. The plot either moved too slowly or too quickly. The writing was so weak I thought this was a debut novel and was surprised to learn the author has published previously. I’m even more surprised at the high Goodreads ratings (4.06 at the time of this writing).

Zuhra, the MC, had very little to recommend her – she’s weak, flighty, whiny, and doesn’t seem to take charge the way she should. She does things that are meant to be make her seem like she’s strong, but she’s far too weak for cliche coverups. She also falls in love, but doesn’t fall in love, far too easily. I didn’t understand her, and she seemed younger than her age because of how weak she was.

Inara, the younger sister, had more to recommend her, but played a smaller role and was relegated to being half-witted most of the time. The mother, Cinnia, was so weak, she became annoying and I hated her. Sam, the friend/midwife/housekeeper-of-sorts, is the typical mother-replacement with a sad backstory – I did like her, however cliche a character she was.

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.

I found myself bored and frustrated while reading, and wanted to DNF, but continued because the plot was quite good. The imagination was there, and the meshing of ideas was creative. It was the technique though, that killed it for me. I skimmed most of the book to get to the end and to not DNF it.

The plot twists also were too obvious – I saw them coming and they fell flat emotionally when they happened. They were too unrealistic, there was too much deus ex machina and it’s such a shame, because the book could have been superb if not for the writing itself.

Sisters of Shadow and Light had potential, but failed to realize it.

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