#BookReview: SisterSong by Lucy Hounsom/Holland @silvanhistorian

Hi everyone. Today, I have a book review for you from author Lucy Hounsom/Holland. I discovered this book via NetGalley and received a free ARC of this book. I enjoyed this read tremendously. And this is definitely an author to check out.

Before I go into my review, however, I wish to add a note about the atrocious formatting on this ARC. The publishers made it so much more difficult to read this book than it ever needs to be. See the screenshot below that will offer you an idea. Every single ‘f’ in the document was replaced with a symbol. And if that isn’t distracting enough, the publisher then jumbled up the text and put it before it should appear. At least it was in italics, but it was often not clear at all where it should be inserted. And sometimes, the same sentence was broken up two or three times and shoved in anywhere. It felt like trying to decode the Zodiac Killer Cypher for crying out loud.

The formatting was so awful that I had to re-read and decipher half of the text. I know this is an advanced review copy, but this jumbled and garbled arrangement is ridiculous. To perform a review read, I need to actually be able to read the sentences. It took me nearly 4 times as long as it should have to read this book. Because of that I nearly gave up. However, it’s such a good story that I’m glad I persevered. Let’s hope the published book is sorted out.


About the Book:

Betrayal. Magic. Murder.

King Cador’s children inherit a war-torn land, abandoned by the Romans.

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 will 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. 

A classic tale with modern sensibilities, this fierce, feminist retelling of an ancient British folk ballad will tug at the heartstrings and stir the imagination. Perfect for fans of Madeleine Miller’s Circe and Katherine Arden’s Winternight trilogy.

My Review:

Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for a free Advanced Review Copy of this book.

Sistersong struck me as a mix between an epic medieval fiction and a fantasy fiction read. And, oh wow, how much I enjoyed it. The story and characters grabbed me from the first page and didn’t let me go until the very last page. The world building, the characterisation, and the story arc are all done wonderfully. Every single character spoke to me, and I felt as though I lived this epic tale rather than simply read it. Even the less likeable people felt real, and I connected with them all.

My favourite of the three sisters has to be Keyne, who I should really call a brother, for he is a man in a female body. His fight for recognition of who he is added an extra special dimension to this tale. The narrative switches between the POVs of each sister, and each have a unique voice. Below are a few lines that stood out for me …


Her palm is rough and cool, and it soothes the ruffled sea in my chest.


But with kindness comes pity, and that is pressure on a bruise, a constant reminder of what I have lost.


… and the princes heard his despair–as an evil tide that drags men down to die.


The glib cast of his face is just the surface we see: thin ice on a pond. What lies beneath?


Quite early on, I sussed out that a certain somebody wasn’t who he claimed to be and was a spy. It took a while to identify exactly who he actually was, but even when I had, it didn’t spoil the final reveal at the denouement. 

This is a story of family, of politics, and a troubled kingdom under threat from an invading army that has defeated much of Briton already. It is a tale of magic and faith lost–or diverted–and the power of the earth that supports and nurtures us. It is a story of remembering who we are and believing in ourselves. And, finally, a tale of redemption and love.

Whether you enjoy historical fiction, a rip-roaring coming of age, or high fantasy, Sistersong will grab you and pull you down to the depths. And it won’t let you surface until it’s all over. This book, and this writer, get a solid five stars from me. Go out and buy this book!


NOTE ON RATINGS: I consider a 3-star rating a positive review. Picky about which books I give 5 stars to, I reserve this highest rating for the stories I find stunning and which moved me.

4 STARS: I WOULD PULL AN ALL-NIGHTER — Go read this book.
3 STARS: IT WAS GOOD! — An okay read. Didn’t love it. Didn’t hate it.
2 STARS: I MAY HAVE LIKED A FEW THINGS —Lacking in some areas: writing, characterisation, and/or problematic plot lines.
1 STAR: NOT MY CUP OF TEA —Lots of issues with this book.

I’d love to hear what you think of this review. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

14 Comments on “#BookReview: SisterSong by Lucy Hounsom/Holland @silvanhistorian

  1. Great review, Harmony. Hopefully, the publisher will correct the formatting debacle before release!

    • The publisher is looking into it, so I believe it will be sorted. Glad you enjoyed the, Jan🙂

  2. Sounds like a great book. That’s terrible about the formatting. Hopefully, the publisher will get it fixed before the release date. That could destroy an otherwise good book because it’s bound to get bad reviews (even though it’s not the author’s fault).

  3. I think that formatting would have been the end for me. Good for you that you stuck it out.

  4. A good review, as always, Harmony.
    We see books like this uploaded pre-publication on Readers’ Favorite occasionally. They are returned when a reviewer spots them and a good copy requested – just a thought for the future.

    • Thanks for that, Sarah. Perhaps I can contact NetGalley’s help next time to ask them to request a better copy from the publisher. Glad you liked the review 🙂

  5. Excellent review, Harmony. You saw beyond the formatting problems to the story itself. That in itself says a lot about you and about the story. I’m looking forward to reading it once published. Congratulations to author Lucy Holland!