Review of “Sisters of Sword and Song” by Rebecca Ross

Ross, Rebecca. Sisters of Sword and Song. New York: HarperTeen, 2020. 

ISBN-13: 978-0062471413 | $17.99 USD | 458 pages 

Blurb

From the author of The Queen’s Rising comes a thrilling YA stand-alone fantasy about the unbreakable bond between sisters. Perfect for fans of Ember in the Ashes, Sky in the Deep, and Court of Fives.

After eight long years, Evadne will finally be reunited with her older sister, Halcyon, who has been proudly serving in the queen’s army. But when Halcyon appears earlier than expected, Eva knows something has gone terribly wrong. Halcyon is on the run, hunted by her commander and charged with murder.

Though Halcyon’s life is spared during her trial, the punishment is heavy. And when Eva volunteers to serve part of Halcyon’s sentence, she’s determined to find out exactly what happened. But as Eva begins her sentence, she quickly learns that there are fates much worse than death.

Review

4 stars

Having loved Rebecca Ross’ Queen’s Rising duology, I was excited to see what she would do next. And the premise of Sisters of Sword and Song appealed to me, centering on the complex relationship between sisters.

I liked both Evadne and Halcyon, and how the story follows them both from their initial position as opposites envious of what the other has, to coming into their own, each in their own right. I also love that, in spite of wishing to be like the other, they are protective of each other, and it’s wonderful to see such a nuanced, yet still grounded sibling  relationship in a YA fantasy, as it feels like some of the other books I’ve read lately have featured either only children or fierce, bloody sibling rivalry. 

The world building is also immersive, to the point that I was a bit disappointed that it was a stand-alone, in spite of my initial relief. I loved the Grecian feel, but it didn’t feel like it was just “Greece, but with different names.” The magic system is also a lot of fun, with the different gods and associated relics, some of which are specifically noted as “unaccounted for.”

I really enjoyed this book, and I would recommend it to anyone who loves YA fantasy. 

Author Bio

Rebecca Ross was born and raised in Georgia, where she continues to reside with her husband, her lively Australian Shepherd, and her endless piles of books. She loves coffee, the night sky, chalk art, maps, the mountains, and growing wildflowers in her yard. And a good story, of course.

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Review of “The Queen’s Resistance” (The Queen’s Rising #2) by Rebecca Ross

Ross, Rebecca. The Queen’s Resistance. New York: HarperTeen, 2019.

Hardcover | $17.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-002471383 | 458 pages | YA Fantasy

5 stars

The Queen’s Resistance is a delightful conclusion to the The Queen’s Rising duology, building on the great world building and character development of the prior book. Given the reasonably satisfactory ending to the prior book, this could easily have fallen flat as an unnecessary sequel, but it everything worked, with the stakes being raised and the concepts laid out in the beginning of book one being fully realized.

It’s great to see how Brienna has changed now that she is more secure with her adoptive family, the MacQuinns. And found family is a theme that resonates throughout this story of rebuilding following a colossal revolution and deposing of a corrupt and brutal king, with some of the members of his family who have been subjected to abuses and forced to commit acts of violence against others in his name also seeking out a second chance away from the families they were born into.

This also has one of the more subtle, yet beautiful and healthy, romantic relationships in YA between Brienna and Cartier/Aodhan, with them both being dedicated to the cause of rebuilding the kingdom and serving the true queen, as well as caring about and respecting each other.

And while this book sees Brienna continue to have a connection to her ancestor that helped her find the Canon in the last book, there are also some revelations about Aodhan’s family, particularly a family member he once thought dead, and the build-up to the reveal was incredibly well-paced.

While I’m glad that Brienna’s story ended the way it did, I think the world Ross has built is interesting, and would like to read more about it, and failing that, I feel that she has great talent for writing YA fantasies that break the mold, and can’t wait to see what she puts out next. In the meantime, I would recommend this one to anyone who enjoyed the first one.

Review of “The Queen’s Rising” (The Queen’s Rising #1) by Rebecca Ross

Ross, Rebecca. The Queen’s Rising. New York: HarperTeen, 2018. ISBN-13: 978-0-06-247134-5. $17.99 USD. 

5 stars

This book was recommended by a friend in my book club who had also read Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series, so, intrigued by the blurb, I picked it up. And while Maas’ work takes some time to get into, that is not the case here, as Rebecca Ross immediately swept me away in the the world she created and got me invested in both the heroine Brienna’s, journey, as well as the political struggles of the other characters Brienna meets. I love seeing Brienna develop as a character, and how learning about her father by blood actually helps her reaffirm her loyalty to her father by passion.

One element of Ross’ work that had me on the edge of my seat is her excellent use of foreshadowing. She provides a lot of aids to help the reader understand the world, through character tables and family trees, but while some of the information is revealed beforehand through these charts, like the identity of Brienna’s father, there is still a lot left to be revealed that constantly left me shocked with all the twists and turns.

Another element that I loved was the way the romantic relationship developed between Brienna and Cartier. At the beginning of the story, it does feel a bit inappropriate, given the way it is set up, the circumstances that follow in which we see Brienna become an equal partner to him made me root for the relationship, especially as each of their respective pasts were revealed.

While this is very much a complete story on its own, I am excited to see that this is the first in a trilogy. I can’t wait to see what comes next for the characters, and I hope the next installment is just as engrossing as the first.