Cover Image: Sisters of Shadow

Sisters of Shadow

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Alice lives alone in the woods because the inhabitants of the nearby village have believed her a witch since her parents disappeared when she was a child. Lily is the niece and apprentice to the apothecary, and Alice’s best friend. When Alice disappears, with hints that she was either kidnapped by or joined a magic cult/coven, Lily goes in search of her friend.

▪	Beginning of a fantasy series. This, to me, means that the world is just starting to take shape, the stakes are being set, and the characters are introduced. Which is all great, and Livesey does it really well. However, this also means that not a whole lot happens in this novel. I am invested in the world and the characters though, so I look forward to learning more about this world’s history (there is mention of a war, and of places outside the Shadow Lands where technology has evolved a bit more) but I admit this novel left me a bit unsatisfied.

▪	Character-driven. The story is very much all about the characters, who they are, and why they do things. This being YA, there is a lot about them finding out more about themselves on the journey. This is all great, and the character development feels organic.

▪	Found family. I love a found family, and this story is basically a series of scenes of people finding each other and bonding. Some of the secondary characters weren’t clear enough, though, so that the two pairs of younger siblings living with Jem kept becoming jumbled in my head.

▪	Confusing timeline. Actually, everything that has to do with time in this book confused me a little. The stories of Alice and Lily were told in parallel, and it felt like they were supposed to occur at the same time, but also that more time passed in Alice’s story than in Lily’s. In the end, it doesn’t appear to be what was happening, the same amount of time has elapsed in both stories, so Alice’s story seems to develop too fast. There could have been more precision in letting the reader know how much time has elapsed. I am also uncertain about what time period inspired this world. My mind kept interpreting things as Medieval, then maybe as late as the 18th century, but I couldn’t picture the world and costumes clearly. It feels too much like “generic fantasy-time” for me.

▪	Queer characters. While I generally enjoy YA, I can get annoyed by the almost obligatory pairing up of all characters in couples by the end (I’m looking at you, alumni of a certain wizarding school). This novel avoids falling into that obligatory heteronormative trap by having queer characters falling in love in a completely non-dramatic way. I say this a lot but: we need more queer characters in fiction just existing and being.

In short, this novel has good character development and a good base of world-building, but not much happens. This is pretty normal for the first book in a series, but it still disappointed me a bit. Still very much worth reading.
Was this review helpful?
While this is not a terrible book, it must be said that the worldbuilding is non existent, the pace is glacial, the characters lack development/depth/are simplistic, and there's not a lot to recommend.  Because of the lack of sophistication of the writing, this feels much more oriented toward middle grade readers (though there are scenes that make it a bit more YA).  

Story:  Alice pretty much hates everyone since she lives alone and has been mistreated by the villages since her parents abandoned her.  Lily is her only friend yet even that is a tenuous relationship.  But Alice comes from a family of magic, even though she has been unable to do any on her own.  When she receives a message that someone can teach her her legacy, Alice jumps at the chance and leaves the village suddenly.  Lily, meanwhile, finds her gone and, worried for her friend, hastens after her.

There isn't a lot of logic here.  From Lily's guardian blithely allowing a young and naive girl to rush off into the wide world to Alice's ambivalence on where she winds up.  The relationships each girl has come quickly, are REALLY obvious, and rather saccharine.  For the most part, they felt like Disney Princesses and with that level of depth of storytelling.  The good are super good and the bad are cartoony bad. I expected little birdies to braid Lily's hair every morning while mouse ran around her making her breakfast in the forest.

I honestly was bored throughout. This felt like it was intended for 10-12 year olds until some more mature scenes came in later in the book.  So while this isn't a bad read, I can't help but feel that this is best suited for unsophisticated young readers who want something easy to read.  Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.
Was this review helpful?
I wanted to love this book but I found it quite slow and the story didn't keep my attention and fell flat.
I think some more world building would help.
Not my cup of tea.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
Was this review helpful?
The description of this book clicked all the boxes for me. I liked it for several reasons. The settings, the friendship and the journey. Sadly, I had a tough time loving this book and I am not sure why. Maybe I'm just too old for this book! I kept waiting for characters to make decisions, to make their ideas known, to question but it just didn't seem  to happen or it seemed to take forever for it to happen. Honestly, I got a little impatient. Do I think that some of my students will enjoy it- yes I do. I would have no problems suggesting it as a book choice. I thought the relationships between the main characters, Lily, Alice, Jem and Grace were well crafted. Some of the writing was a bit clunky. The occasional "big word" seemed awkward at best and somewhat out of place. It's not that I don't know these words it just didn't fit the story. Otherwise I enjoyed reading this book.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you NetGalley for a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

First of all, I think the comparison to Anne of Green Gables meets His Dark Materials is a bit misleading. In all honesty, I think this book could have benefitted from more time. It didn’t feel fully fleshed out or like it knew what it was yet. It didn’t feel finished.

Alice lives alone in the woods and desperately wants to unearth her magic. Lily is the apothecary’s apprentice with an affinity for nature who loves to feel the forest beneath her bare feet. They couldn’t be more different and yet their friendship is full of love, trust and understanding. I liked how they were each pushed to do the thing they felt the other was better suited for; adventure and trusting/befriending others.

I’m a bit confused by the wider world as there were indications that the rest of civilisation had moved on technologically. Plot wise there were some convenient short cuts; ‘hello Grace fancy seeing you here’ and a few slightly random violent turns. I didn’t feel like I got as many answers as I needed from it as the first book in the series and the pacing was a little odd. For me, a lot of Lily’s journey could have been condensed and the arrival at the lighthouse could have taken place earlier because the ending felt a little rushed.

That said, I really liked the dysfunctional family unit in the lighthouse (could have been a whole book by itself) and the set up for the following books. I really hope the next book pins down elements that felt like they were floating in this one and the worldbuilding becomes a little more secure and clear.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley and HaperCollins UK for the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.



Sisters of Shadow is a young YA Fantasy novel about two young girls who form a sister like bond from a young age.  Alice is abandoned and left on her own at age six, her only friend is Lily. The two girls share their hopes and dreams and Alice dubs them Sisters of Shadows. When Alice disappears, abducted by a sect of the same name, Lily sets out to find her friend. Along the way she discovers her own history and faces danger and adventure. 

I was drawn to the cover and title of this book. It reads a but younger than YA and could definitely be a middle grade story. I appreciated the LGBTQIA+  representation and the cliff hanger ending has me curious, but I’m not sure I will read the next book due to the younger reading element.
Was this review helpful?
This book took my mind to a whole new world and introduced me to amazing characters. Great read! Totally recommended.
Was this review helpful?
Such a quirky and whimsical read. It's the first in the series and it's good to know that going in as it does end with a cliffhanger! Very reminiscent of fairytales like Peter Pan and classics like Anne of Green Gables. The world is so immersive and descriptive, and the story is very character-driven. Can't wait for the next book!
Was this review helpful?
I wish the 2nd part of this was out now as I devoured the first part. I loved the writing in this and how both of the girls felt so real and natural . I liked how the story progressed and how it all built on top of each other. The drama was intense and I really loved the action scenes. The writing made the story really easy to follow but the only thing I would change is some of the side characters that Grace meets after she leaves her village as there were a couple that didn't leave much of an impression and they felt like they could be replaced easily and they wouldn't be missed.
Was this review helpful?
Alice and Lily are what Anne of Green Gables would call kindred spirits. But it was Alice who first called them the sisters of shadow, Lily the sunshine to her moonlight, for neither can exist without the other. I dove in on a rainy October afternoon and read straight through dinner. 
Alice wishes she could study magic and leave her hometown and one day after receiving a letter promising her just that- she leaves. Lily meanwhile is certain that Alice has really been kidnapped and starts a search for her friend. I hope that we get more details about how magic works in this world in the sequel. I would have happily read a longer story with more world-building details.
This new British release only seems to be available as a Kindle book or on Audible in the US right now. It probably got caught in the current shipping snafu- but you'll want to track this down and give yourself a long fall or winter afternoon of delightful fantasy.
Was this review helpful?
Alice, abandoned by her parents as a child, lives alone in an out of town cabin and is considered a witch. Wanting the magic promised but missing by her family's heritage, she follows the instructions of a mysterious letter and disappears. As strange things occur in the Shadow Lands, her best friend Lily sets out to save her from a dangerous cult.

With a prologue that brings forth a fairy tale like narrative, this adventurous fantasy is wonderfully descriptive with plentiful details that help you to envision this world perfectly. It's just so readable, it grabs you from the very beginning and never lets go.

The POVs are equally engaging and the changes between them move the story along nicely. Alice is wild abandon, thirst for knowledge, a loner. Lily is grounded, lover of nature, silent courage. Foreboding seems to follow the protagonists and melancholic notes accompany them with a figurative speech that is vivid with glimmers of lyrical. Hope always permeates the atmosphere. And empowerment spices it.

The portrayal of feelings is done in such an intense and beautiful way.

The character of Grace embodies compassion and respect and is a fierce protector. Jem is a bit of a know-it-all, charming and determined to the degree of stubborn.

Some revelations you 'smell' a mile away. The POVs are uneven in the sense that a lot more of Lily's story is shown (not that I don't love Lily) and some things of Alice that would be so very interesting are passed by too quickly. You can't get as invested in Alice's story as a result.

Bravery in the face of the unknown is a special kind of bravery. This story is a testament to the strength of friendship.

Even if you don't believe in something, that something may believe in you. With a few unexpected twists along the way, one you were actually hoping for and cheered when it happened, this attention-stealing brilliant ride leads to an unexpected alliance, a breathtaking albeit grim finale and a greatly anticipated sequel.
Was this review helpful?
I was looking forward to reading a book in the line of Diana Wynne Jones. I grew up on her work loving it more than Harry Potter… but this was not it, hence disappointment on my end.
This is not a bad story, but the tone is very distant and I just could not care about any of the characters. The third person narration lacks in personality. The initial motives are too light for me and unbelievable. And this makes it even harder to feel for the characters.
Was this review helpful?
This story was very meh. I was excited about the Anne of Green Gables correlation but sadly it just didn't mesh with me. It was full of very long descriptions and the whole romance just felt like the author checking things off a list.  Sadly this one I don't think was for me at all. It might find its readers but it wasn't this one.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley and HaperCollins UK for the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

This book sounded right up my alley - YA, witches, fantasy - but I think it should be tagged as a middle school read (and so because it wasn't it I didn't go into thinking as such and that may have altered my perception of it).  The main characters were 18 so I understand the YA tag but as I read I could see my 5th/6th grade self enjoying this book.  I found the pacing odd; sometimes it would be slow and sometimes a lot of big stuff would happen all at once.  There wasn't a lot of descriptions of....most anything I felt.  I really wanted to know more about the magic system in that world but perhaps that will be in the forthcoming books in the series.  There is something I read that said "perfect for those who loved the 'Shadow and Bone' series" and I do agree with that.  I have read the first two books of 'Shadow and Bone' and I got very similar vibes and pacing as that series.  I guess it's just not a writing style that works for me but if works for you great!
Was this review helpful?
i didn’t really like this book.. i am not sure what it is about it but it was so lackluster.. very disappointing
Was this review helpful?
This was a lovely debut YA novel, for maybe younger readers. The story follows Alice and Lily and their journey of friendship and growth as Alice goes missing and Lily sets off to find her..
The premise is that Alice lives in a forest abandoned by her parents and her only friend is Lily, so when Alice receives a letter promising to answer all her questions about herself she goes to the witch coven and is then trapped, not knowing how to leave. Lily then heads off to find her , discovering more about herself and her strengths than she ever realised.
A good first novel that I’m sure will tie everything together in the second book.
Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Collins for the eArc, this is my own honest opinion.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley, and Harper Collins UK, One More Chapter for the e-ARC copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.

Overall, I think that this was a strong debut novel. It has so many things that I am drawn to when I read a book: witches, apothecaries, sisterly-bonds, coming of age quests, and of course a dash of romance. The setting of the book really drew me in, I was hooked from the first pages where we see Alice in her woodland cottage and she discovers a mysterious letter.

I liked both Alice and Lily, and I enjoyed that they were opposites, and best friends all the same. I especially liked how Lily was able to see Alice in a way that others couldn’t. I also enjoyed other characters in the book. Particularly Grace, and her budding romance with Alice was refreshing and a highlight of the book for me.

I did find myself wanting a bit more from the world-building – it was intriguing, but I found myself feeling like I was just skimming the surface when I wanted to be immersed deeper into the world. However, I am sure the world-building will be expanded on in the next book. Also, sometimes the pacing of the book felt a bit off. However, that could have just been me.

I enjoyed this book and accompanying Alice and Lily on their journeys. I look forward to seeing where the story will go in the next book. Thank you again to NetGalley, and Harper Collins UK, One More Chapter for the e-ARC copy of this book.
Was this review helpful?
I was provided an ARC of this book from the publisher but I'm not really sure that I should have accepted. This book reads really young and I couldn't get into it. Perhaps it appeals to the younger readers, but I enjoy a much more robust fantasy building and this wasn't it.  Nothing against the book/story itself, but I personally should've passed.
Was this review helpful?
Overall, I enjoyed my reading experience of this story. I liked Alice and Lily. However, this read a bit young. The world building was a bit surface level, but that will probably be fleshed out more in the sequel.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to Harper Collins UK, One More Chapter, Katherine Livesey, and Netgalley for a gifted copy in exchange for an honest review!

Wow, what a fun story!!! I was unsure what to expect when I first started as it was slow to build (in a good way!) and then once the author started diving into the characters more it picked up for me!

Sisters of Shadow has so many different topics and issues in it, such as betrayal, lesbian relationship, death, and secrets. And it all works so well and if any of it were missing the story just wouldn’t be the same!!!!

Alice is a character that I’m not too sure of at first, but she grew on me when I realized she wasn’t too sure of herself! There is definitely a lot of growth of her character in this story and it is fun to watch her see her true self and take chances! Lily is the caregiver of the two women, and she shines in that role. She cannot seem to help but look after anyone around her and always wants to think the best of people. 

The fantasy aspect is minimal in this story, but this first book I feel really set the reader up for future stories. The characters were the main focus and the reader definitely has a good idea of who they are and what they are made of by the end of the story! I am really curious to see where the author takes this series!!!!
Was this review helpful?