Sistersong by Lucy Holland is a standalone YA historical fantasy set in ancient Britain. According to NetGalley, it will be published on October 5th but then I wrote my Goodreads review and it says it came out in April 2021 so not really sure but if it’s not out now, it will be soon.
This story follows the three children of the King of Dumnonia in 535 AD: Riva who was gravely injured years ago in a fire, Keyne who is a boy but was born a girl, and Sinne who dreams of romance. They are living under the constant threat of the Saxons attacking while dealing with the wreckage of the Romans leaving. Magic used to to be common in Dumnonia, but recently even the once powerfully magic King is unable to do magic. A priest is now living in the hold and teaching the ways of his God and scorning those who practice the old ways.
I really enjoyed this, I gave it 4 stars. The backdrop of ancient Britain with the ever looming threat of the Saxons was interesting and written in a really atmospheric way. The overall story was really intriguing and I was interested in where each of the main characters’ stories would go. The folklore portions was mostly done pretty well, the magic explanation was a little lacking at first but it eventually made sense and had me hooked. The hole harp piece of it was a little too weird for me, I will admit.
My favorite part of this book was the three siblings, Riva, Keyne and Sinne were so different but portrayed really clearly to play off each other beautifully. Sinne’s story was a little lack-luster, she was mostly there as a counter point. Riva’s story was interesting but a little typical. Keyne’s story was by far my favorite. His discovery of himself along with magic was so beautifully written and went from heart-wrenching to joyful and back multiple times. Following the story of a trans (although it’s never said in these terms) character in 535 AD was something totally new for me and a really interesting look at discovering ones truth when he didn’t know he wasn’t the only one. Seeing the discussions of this topic in a world where that language just didn’t exist made for a really open discussion and interesting take on a topic.
Overall, I really liked this one and would recommend it. I will note that a big plot line in here makes a priest and his God the villain though so for someone who is religious, this might be something to consider before deciding to pick it up.
*I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.