Book Review

The Lost Sisters

The Lost Sisters by Holly Black is a short novella between The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King. It’s interesting, because much like the quick story at the end of The Cruel Prince, it gives you a glimpse of the story from a completely different angle.

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t read The Cruel Prince, this review will include spoilers for you. This novella involves critical plot reveals that are central to the storyline for The Cruel Prince that WILL spoil the plot for you.

Okay. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to the review.

While The Cruel Prince is told from the vantage point of Jude, this story is told from her twin sister Taryn’s point of view. It fills in the parts of the Taryn-Locke-Jude love triangle that are withheld in The Cruel Prince, since Jude is unaware of these events.

Taryn starts the story with a fairy tale, and it’s about Mr. Fox, which I found fitting, since Jude has referred to Locke as having foxlike features. It also has a moral (as fairy tales usually do), admonishing the listener to “be bold, be bold, but not too bold, lest that your heart’s blood should run cold.”

Taryn relates the story of how she came to be wooed by Locke, before Jude ever got involved with him. And when Locke slips a note into her book bag, she stops wishing for a fairy tale ending, and starts to think that she could possibly get one. Because if there’s one thing our reading has showed thus far, it’s that Locke can make you believe his shtick. Taryn just wants people to accept her, and is eager to believe that Locke is genuine, especially since he’s so convincing. She’s willing to make a deal with him. If you’re anything like me, you’re already thinking that this isn’t a good idea.

We already know how this story ends, since we already read the first book. Taryn falls in love with Locke, who in turn pursues Jude, who falls in love with him, only for him to return to Taryn in time for an engagement. This of course, leads to a falling-out between the sisters that can only be settled by sword fight because I don’t think they have family therapists in Faerie.

As usual, the descriptive language is beautiful and vivid:

“His hair was bright in the moonlight, his face as handsome as heartbreak.”

I always love how imagination can run wild when picturing the inhabitants of Faerie, such as when one musician blushes he is described as having green blood, since the flush comes up as green rather than red. It has the same style as Holly Black’s other books in the Folk of the Air series, and like the others, makes me anxious for more.

This book shows us how different these identical twins really are. I personally love Jude’s character. She’s tough, smart, witty, and stubborn: character traits that can be difficult but go a long way in an environment that is as unfriendly to mortals as Faerie. Taryn on the other hand is probably the least likable character in the series. She’s that damsel-in-distress type who will struggle to survive without a stronger person to help her out:

“Maybe Locke liked that I was sensitive. He’d protected me, maybe he wanted someone who needed protecting. But I wasn’t sure.”

The Lost Sisters is told as a sort of long explanation or half-assed apology to Jude. It’s hard to see it as effective though, especially when she confesses horrible thoughts, justified in the guise of honesty:

“I know it was a terrible thing to think, but at least I am admitting it. See, I am confessing everything.”

Confessions can be a tricky thing. When you’re confessing an act, then honesty is usually the best policy. Yes, I stole your [insert item here]. That is an act that is likely to incur some hurt feelings, but it can be atoned for by making financial amends. But when confessing a thought that is likely to hurt someone’s feelings and there’s no way to atone for it, you have to examine what the real motivation for confessing it is. Is it really to unburden your conscience, or is it just a way to hurt the other person a little more? I get the impression that it was more the latter option.

It seems like Taryn is holding onto resentment against Jude, who was in the dark about all of this, because of Taryn’s insistence on keeping secrets from her sister. I understand why Taryn is upset, but I don’t think that she should be blaming her sister when the fault lies squarely at the sly fox feet of Locke, and to a lesser degree, her own. She’s been living in Faerie just as long as Jude, yet she doesn’t know about the dangers of making bargains with Faerie folk while Jude is much more cautious.

I love the books in this series. I was overjoyed to discover that there was a novella that I had overlooked between The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King. I read this after reading The Wicked King, since I didn’t find out about it until afterwards. While I don’t think that it is essential to understanding the events of the second book, it did provide a little extra layer of understanding what had happened. It also gave me a little bit of insight into the motivation behind Taryn’s actions. As the series progresses, I find myself disliking Taryn more and more. This novella only increased that feeling. The style is the same beautiful prose that I’ve come to expect from the author, and I find myself increasingly eager for the final book in the trilogy to be released. This is an excellent series and this novella lives up to the same high standard as the other books.

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