Saturday, 30 November 2013

The Salbine Sisters by Sarah Ettritch

*ebook from NetGalley-much thanks!

Published October 2010
Publisher: Norn Publishing

Maddie entered into the monastery of Salbine Sisters, a religious order of offensive mages that draw on the elements to defend their country. She begins her lessons with a mistress that she has taken as her lover, and discovers that she cannot draw on the first element, fire. With the news that there is something different about her, she travels to another monastery to find her answers.  

It takes too long to establish how this world works, and I still have questions. Most of all, I want to know more about their religion. At one point we get a run down about Lina from a tapestry, but what about Salbine? It’s the name of their God/Goddess, a central aspect to this story, and I know nothing about Her.
The story was supposed to be about Maddie travelling and researching her condition. The story takes another turn and in the end I was left asking BUT WHAT ABOUT HER CONDITION? Nope, we have just forgotten about that. The book ends. Thanks, Book, for disregarding what you set out to do.
With this said, it was not a terrible story. It meandered all over the place, and it presented itself as fantasy. It’s really a romance. Straight up romances usually aren’t my cup of tea, but this story had me wondering about Lillian and Maddie’s relationship. How can it survive the awful conclusion that she cannot draw on the elements? So much happens consecutively after that, it made me anxious to read what would happen next in their relationship. There are many instances of dialogue that had me smiling or sad-the book was exceptionally moving to me, at times. Aside from a romance, the story accomplishes very little.

There are a ton of characters. For the most part, they are terribly flat. Because the story is concerned with an order of women, the characters that the reader is concerned with are women. It’s too bad that none of them have a convincing personality-the author populates the covenant with people whose only traits are that they are women. Gwendolyn is evil for about 10 minutes, and she has to most personality out of all the women.

            The author’s website says that this is “A story about faith and love.” The faith, the religious kind, was alright until I felt like I was being hit in the face with everyone has a purpose set forth by a higher being. That became old quickly. Because I don’t want to spoil it here, Maddie’s purpose is the kind of thing I rail against with a feminist fervor.  

Yes, it has two women as lovers, labeled lesbians (though the term is not used in the text), so some people will gasp, cover their mouths, and be offended. In this instance, it would be best to know a person’s sensibilities before you recommend this book. I recommend this book as a love story, not a fantasy. Because there is no fighting against a society that wants them to conform, I don’t even recommend it for people looking for LGBT literature that is about breaking free from society’s rigid structure. It's an nice love story of two women, one older, one younger, struggling against a series of unfortunate events, and I found it to have some wonderful moments.

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