Sistersong by Lucy Holland
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|Sistersong by Lucy Holland|
|Category: Literary Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ruth Wilson|
|Summary: Sistersong is a beautiful example of a modern retelling of a folk tale, handled with a delicate touch Sistersong keeps all the authenticity of its origins and history whilst still feeling modern and relatable. The three sisters of Sistersong feel very human, full of hopes, dreams and fears, ready to do what they must to protect themselves and their future.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 416||Date: April 2021|
Sistersong is part of a genre I particularly enjoy, the modern retelling of folk and fairy tales. These stories, for most of us, are a cornerstone of childhood and I relish seeing them retold with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective. If handled well these retellings give new life and new meaning to stories that are now becoming increasingly narrow and outdated, fleshing out characters, examining relationships and re-evaluating the role of women. Sistersong is a perfect example of a modern retelling done well, the plot is handled with care, keeping its archaic historical feel but allowing the characters to come to life, to feel real and human, most importantly they feel relatable in a modern world whilst still feeling appropriate for the pre-Saxon age they live in. This is a masterpiece of storytelling and I was captivated from beginning to end.
Sistersong is set in the early days of English history, as the Saxons are trying to gain ground across the country. The story is a retelling of the old folk song The Two Sisters told from the viewpoint of the two sisters of the ballad but also a third sister that history has forgotten. The story happens in an unspecified area of England but one that is still rich in magic and the inhabitants of the land are torn between the old ways of the past and their magical roots and the new ways of Christianity that the departing Romans have left behind. The sisters are the daughters of the King and the plot jumps from sister to sister so the reader gets to know each character well and each sister is a well-rounded character with faults, hopes and fears.
The plot is richly woven and each character's story blends into another, such is the nature of living in a small settlement, but my favourite aspect of this book is the nature of the enemy. Obviously, the Saxons are lurking on the outskirts as the main enemy, waiting to take over, but within the world of the sisters, the perceived enemy is always changing. Keyne is suspicious of the Christian Priest Gidas because he opposes her love of magic and the old ways, Gildas mistrusts Tristan and recruits Sinne to aid in his suspicions and Riva starts to doubt herself and her place and has a growing mistrust of Myrdhin as her childhood trust in him is broken. Their small world revolves on a pin head where there is no one great evil to be vanquished but rather the great evil is in their own character, their own mistrust, due to lack of faith or loss of power.
This book is simply superb, it is modern and relevant whilst still feeling appropriate to the era of the ballad. Even without the ballad, it is a beautiful story of the complex and loving relationship between three sisters and how their relationship and strength influenced the lives of those around them. I strongly recommend this book, it is so beautiful, alternatively for something similar you could try The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Sistersong by Lucy Holland at Amazon.com.
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