Sisters of the Snake by Sarena & Sasha Nanua (512 pages)
Sisters of the Snake has Separated Twins Living Disparate Lives
Ria is an orphan who must steal just to make it through each day. Because Ria has spent her life struggling in a city ruled by a wealthy raja and his family, she despises the monarchy and the disparity it stands for. Rani is a princess, the daughter of the raja that Ria hates so much, confined to her palace who dreams of the world outside its walls. As the future ruler of Abai, the expectations on Rani’s shoulders are heavy and she doesn’t feel like her father sees her for who she is, but only as his heir.
But when Ria sneaks into the palace to steal from the royal coffers, she’s caught by Rani. And when they look at each other, they realize that they’re identical… and that they can help each other. If Ria stays in the palace, Rani can seek the legendary Bloodstone, a powerful relic that could save her family from re-entering a deadly war that began after the ancient battle of the six Great Masters of Magic, with the neighbouring nation of Kaama. And while Ria is in the palace, not only will her needs be taken care of, but she can investigate the truth behind the twins’ separation. This ruse is inherently dangerous, but the girls go ahead with their plan; a decision that will ultimately shape the future of their kingdom.
A Diverse Retelling of a Classic Tale
Clearly a retelling of The Prince and the Pauper, the Nanua sisters not only update the tale but add in some fresh twists to keep you entertained and guessing. When we meet Ria and Rani, they feel like fully-formed characters who’ve been living in a fully-formed world; this isn’t something all authors get right. Both characters seemed really devoted to their causes which helps the reader buy-in as well. The exposition, is handled well considering that fantasy elements and aspects of Indian culture need to be explained for many readers. The pace is quick and the transitions between points of view will make it difficult for you to put this one down.
The Bottom Line: 4/5 Brookie Stars
Sisters of the Snake immerses you in Indian culture in much more than passing fashion. The worldbuilding is thorough and, as a reader, you’ll not only be immersed in a fantasy world but a culture that we’re finally getting to see more often in YA fiction. The authors are twins themselves and seemingly drew on that experience in this novel, the first in a series. While the novel may be a bit long for some YA readers, the time is well spent not only on developing the characters but also on the Indian culture that this fantasy world is based on.
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Rachel Gomes is a 30-something high school English teacher who lives with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband and their son. Rachel is a voracious reader who loves to learn and has her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction. She’s happiest listening to podcasts and talking to friends about the latest news in nerd culture.
Favourite book: Don’t make me choose between A Song of Ice and Fire and Harry Potter
Favourite brunch spot: The Farmer’s Table