Welcome to Write, Read, Repeat’s stop on the blog tour for Sara B. Larson’s latest fantasy novel, SISTERS OF SHADOW AND LIGHT. I’d like to thank Tor Teen for the e-Arc and FFBC Tours for the opportunity to join the tour for this fantastic book! And if you’re wanting to get your hands on a copy, I’ve got a link below to win a copy!
SISTERS OF SHADOW AND LIGHT
by Sara B. Larson
368 pages | Expected publication: November 5th 2019 | Tor Teen
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ / 5
From the acclaimed author of DEFY, Sara B. Larson, SISTERS OF SHADOW AND LIGHT is a timeless and fantastical tale of sisterly love and powerful magic”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.
The writing is very much like a fairy tale, slow and introspective with a tiny touch of magic. It feels like a book much bigger than it is, but that’s not a bad thing. There is a lot of reflection, but it fills in blanks and drives the story forward. The first 100 pages or so are a particularly slow, but not entirely dull. These first pages are told from the older sister, Zuhra’s perspective. Then, after a pivotal moment, the remainder of the book alternates between her and her younger sister, Inara.
Inara and Zuhra are both wonderful main characters. Their love for one another is fierce, and it’s clear they would do anything for the other. They are both flawed but oh so fierce and strong. Neither is without fear and doubt, but their bond is unconditional and enduring. I think I like Inara best but enjoyed Zuhra’s storyline more. I also very much preferred Zuhra’s love interest. Inara’s was a weak-a** boy who needed to leave after the halfway mark. I’ve also realized I’m not a fan of mean, suffocating, I-was-slighted-and-I-will-take-it-out-on-you-for-your-own-good mothers, and this one is a piece of work.
The worldbuilding was well-done, even if it did take a little too long to learn what we needed to. No thanks to Mother dearest. The concept of the Paladins and their magic is interesting and felt somewhat unique. The history played well into setting up the story, and served it well in building the plot and leading to the end.
This may sound weird, but I’m almost bummed it’s a series. I don’t know where on earth I got the idea this was a standalone, and it didn’t click until I had five percent left that I was not getting an ending here. This isn’t to say that there isn’t potential for this to be a series. There isn’t exactly a cliff-hanger ending, but it is very open ended with a lot of loose ends left to tie up. This fantasy is not a romance, although it does feature heavily towards the end and, I suspect, will be more prominent in the second book.
Where this lost a star for me was in believability. I had a hard time with how Zuhra, and especially Inara handled and understood things. These are girls who have lived their entire lives trapped behind a magical, fighting hedge, in a crumbling, abandoned Citadel, with no one but each other, their awful mother, and an old midwife. Zuhra is woefully naïve, and yet the first thing that happens when she meets a boy is she falls head over heels and feels it “deep in her belly.” Really? You have literally zero context and experience and that’s how you react? Inara is even worse in terms of life skills. She has been lost to the Roar her whole life, never lucid for more than a few hours every other week, if that, and has to be locked in her room every night, and yet she has a full vocabulary, can do everything put in front of her, and, like her sister, falls for the first boy she meets. It cheapened the story and the girls’ strength and development.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.
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Thanks again to FFBC Tours, Tor Teen and Sara B. Larson!