Book Review: Sistersong by Lucy Holland


About the Book:

Betrayal. Magic. Murder.
A tale of three siblings and three deadly sins.

King Cador’s children inherit a land abandoned by the Romans, torn by warring tribes. Riva can cure others, but can’t heal her own scars. Keyne battles to be seen as the king’s son, although born a daughter. And Sinne dreams of love, longing for adventure.

All three fear a life of confinement within the walls of the hold, their people’s last bastion of strength against the invading Saxons. However, change comes on the day ash falls from the sky – bringing Myrdhin, meddler and magician. The siblings discover the power that lies within them and the land. But fate also brings Tristan, a warrior whose secrets will tear them apart.

Riva, Keyne and Sinne become entangled in a web of treachery and heartbreak, and must fight to forge their own paths. It’s a story that will shape the destiny of Britain.

Sistersong by Lucy Holland retells the folk ballad, ‘The Two Sisters’ – now including the perspective of the sibling ‘that time forgot’. It’s a powerfully moving story, perfect for fans of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted and Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale.

My Thoughts:

Sistersong is nothing short of brilliant. I loved this novel so much. It has such a strong sense of time and place, yet, its core themes are contemporarily relevant. The writing is beautiful, the story is captivating, and the character journeys will make you weep. Ancient history intertwined with magical realism. Sistersong might just be my favourite novel of all time.

Quotable Quotes:

‘…it’s no small thing putting a god aside.’


‘We’d all seen the signs – the cold, the wet, even the ash rain. But no one wanted to believe they heralded anything other than a bout of poor weather. No one wanted to believe that this was due to our king’s neglect. The price of change; the price of embracing a new religion and forsaking an age-old bond with the land.’


‘A woman can fight and is no less a woman. A man can be a woman. A woman can be a man. And then there are those who choose to be both or neither. Do you see now, Keyne, how foolish are the names we force on people before they’re even able to speak?’


‘I sense something growing, something forceful, unstoppable. A new God is opening His eyes amongst us. And I don’t think they can be closed again.’


‘I realise I’m seeing more than a simple absence of magic. I’m seeing magic’s opposite: a potent belief in human strength alone, a world where magic does not and cannot exist. It is terrifying.’


‘The longer I stare, the stronger grows my unease. It is dangerously beautiful in the way that a sword is beautiful, or a storm, or a thorned rose. But a sword is meant for killing, a storm can sink the best-made ship, and a rose’s thorns pierce unwary hands. The harp’s strings are golden, a familiar gold, and its frame is white, its pins so delicate. It has a graceful neck and shoulder…and I fear it, with every fibre of my flesh.’


‘The silence is charged, as if we stand at the peak of a storyteller’s tale and no one knows how the story will end. They hope it will end the way they want it to. But this is my story. And here, in this hall that has witnessed the death of a king and the birth of another, I am the storyteller.’


‘The last notes fade. I know I will never sing them again. After we part this night, the only song people will remember is the other song, the sistersong, with its easy rhyme and grisly story that ends in blood. That is what the world understands. Unless one day it understands more.’


Thanks is extended to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with a copy of Sistersong for review.

About the Author:

Lucy Holland works for Waterstones and has a BA in English & Creative Writing from Royal Holloway. She went on to complete an MA in Creative Writing under Andrew Motion in 2010. Lucy lives in Devon and co-hosts Breaking the Glass Slipper, an award-winning feminist podcast. You can find her on twitter @silvanhistorian

Published by Pan Macmillan Australia
Released 27th April 2021

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