by Vanessa Di Gregorio
“Perhaps because it seems so appropriate, I don’t notice the rain.”
Right from the first page, I fell in love with Lia Milthorpe’s voice. I think that – and Michelle Zink’s gorgeously lyrical prose – was my favourite thing about Prophecy of the Sisters.
Set in the late nineteenth century, the story has a very Gothic feel to it; there are some elements of horror and a hint of romance. And there are some incredibly creepy scenes; the atmosphere and setting that Zink creates is very eerie and spooky. The Victorian period, a time of great propriety, is a wonderful backdrop to the dark and sinister prophecy that places Lia and her twin sister Alice on opposing sides. For me, things are just that much more ominous involving two young women from this period; though they are expected by society to be innocent and virtuous, they are forced to be anything but.
Here’s a description from Goodreads:
An ancient prophecy divides two sisters.
One good. One evil.
Only one will prevail…
Sixteen-year-old Lia Milthorpe and her twin sister Alice have just become orphans, and, as Lia discovers, they have also become enemies. The twins are part of an ancient prophecy that has turned generations of sisters against each other. To escape from a dark fate and to remain in the arms of her beloved boyfriend James, Lia must end the prophecy before her sister does. Only then will she understand the mysterious circumstances of her parents’ deaths, the true meaning of the strange mark branded on her wrist, and the lengths to which her sister will go to defeat her.
Debut novelist Michelle Zink takes readers on an unforgettable journey where one sister’s fateful decision could have an impact of Biblical proportions. Prophecy of the Sisters is the first of three books.
The story and plot is wonderfully mysterious right from the beginning with the dark and vivid funeral scene . After her father mysteriously dies, Amalia discovers a mysterious mark on her wrist; one that, with each passing day, becomes clearer and much more prominent. As Lia begins to uncover the ancient secrets and mysteries surrounding her, she finds herself at the center of a centuries-old prophecy pitting her against her twin sister, Alice. Forced to battle their own destinies, which are so clearly laid out for them, Alice and Lia are also forced to fight against each other for the future they want. For one sister, the prophecy is a curse; a burden that weighs heavily on her life, as well as the lives of those she loves. For the other sister, it is a calling; and a birthright.
The middle slows down quite a bit, but it is the beauty of Zink’s prose that will keep you enthralled. I found myself figuring certain things out before Lia did, but I was so engrossed in the story and in her character that it didn’t really bother me that much. There is very little action, but there is so much suspense and tension in this book that you won’t be bored. I for one could not put this book down; I would find myself catching my breath in horror, and could not stop turning the pages. The end becomes a whirlwind that will leave you breathless; and the extent that Alice falls into her role as the “evil” sister will horrify you.
One thing I wish there could’ve been more of is Alice. Her character is so wonderfully ambiguous; in fact, there are moments where you feel that she isn’t wholly bad, and others where you’re convinced that she is truly evil. She is a character that confuses me, but her role as both sister and antagonist make for a very interesting and conflicting individual; and it makes for an even more interesting relationship between her and her twin. Her loyalty leans more to one side than the other, and it seems that she might grow into an even more sinister character as time goes on. Being the first book of a trilogy, though, I’m sure that we’ll be seeing more of Alice in the next two books. Her character is just so wonderfully obscure that I could not help but be intrigued by her. Zink, with the two sisters, has created an extraordinarily mature relationship in its complexity.
The romance (or lack thereof) actually suited the book. It is never heavy-handed (like a lot of YA these days); instead, you get to see Lia get so wrapped up in the prophecy that she begins to neglect James, the one she loves. In Prophecy of the Sisters, Lia already has a relationship with James. So while the romance can add a bit of lightness to a very moody and dark story, the romance also serves another purpose. In Lia’s quest to discover the meaning of the prophecy, you see her move further away from James, and from the comfort that had once been their relationship. You see the cost of hiding secrets from another person, and how it affects not only one’s self, but those closest to them. And I thought that was brilliant on Zink’s part.
If you enjoyed Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty (and the rest of the Gemma Doyle trilogy), then you’ll love Prophecy of the Sisters. While there are a lot of elements that are similar, they are definitely very different stories. Zink’s debut novel is a wonderful fantasy intertwined with mythology that is dark, twisted, and hauntingly beautiful. It will leave you feeling shocked – and wanting more. And while the prose, plot, and setting is much stronger than the characters, there is no doubt that they are still well-written and wonderfully flawed. I immediately went out and bought the sequel, Guardian of the Gate, which came out earlier this month. And you can be sure that it will be the next book I read. So pick it up; you will fall in love.
Vanessa is a Sales Assistant at Kate Walker & Co., a book and gift sales agency located in Toronto. She is also enrolled in a publishing program. Currently, Vanessa is working on a YA fantasy novel and a Children’s non-fiction series.