Genre: Fantasy of Manners
Publisher: Angry Robot on April 3, 2018
My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.
Two sisters fight with manners, magic, and mayhem to reclaim their family’s name, in this captivating historical fantasy adventure.
House Mederos was once the wealthiest merchant family in Port Saint Frey. Now the family is disgraced, impoverished, and humbled by the powerful Merchants Guild. Daughters Yvienne and Tesara Mederos are determined to uncover who was behind their family’s downfall and get revenge. But Tesara has a secret – could it have been her wild magic that caused the storm that destroyed the family’s merchant fleet? The sisters’ schemes quickly get out of hand – gambling is one thing, but robbing people is another…
Together the sisters must trust each another to keep their secrets and save their family.
File Under: Fantasy [ A Family’s Honour | The Fleet That Was Lost | Pistols in the Dark | An Ace at Cards ]
House Mederos was one of the most powerful merchant families in Port Saint Frey until a horrible tragedy — and a series of mysterious events — ruined their fortunes. The family’s two daughters, Yvienne and Tesara, were spirited away in the night to protect them from the Merchant Guild’s justice.
Newly returned to Port Saint Frey, Yvienne and Tesara are much changed. The six years they spent at a harsh, cruel boarding school in the country hardened the sisters – and left Tesara disfigured and traumatized. Both sisters are eager to lift their family out of genteel poverty and back to their previous status…and to exact revenge on those who took everything from them. But who was it, and why? Could the family’s downfall have something to do with Tesara’s uncanny magical ability?
From masked bandits, controversial political manifestos, gambling schemes, and swindling their enemies, the daughters of House Mederos will stop at nothing to discover who targeted their family. Yvienne and Tesara’s capers are so zany and fun, and the added element of thumbing their noses at the Guild makes them even sweeter. If you’re looking for a fantasy of manners with lots of madcap action, then THE SISTERS MEDEROS is a good place to begin!
THE SISTERS MEDEROS has such likeable characters, particularly Yvienne. She’s a chameleon, adjusting to her lower status and shouldering the responsibility of providing for her family; Yvienne finds work as a governess, using her advanced education and novelty as a formerly high-status member of society to her advantage. I love a character with that kind of pluck! Tesara, the younger sister, struggles with her new reality and harbours some classist ideas that grated a little on me. In the end though, Tesara’s irrepressible spirit won me over…well, that and her card-counting skills.
As much as I loved Yvienne and Tesara, THE SISTERS MEDEROS does flounder in a few places. Given that the entire story is about unravelling the conspiracy that led to the downfall of the Mederos family, the “whodunnit and why” of it all was rather disappointing. The culprits are discovered quite quickly once the girls get the ball rolling, and their punishment is even more swift. I was hoping for a bit more twistiness, honestly.
The fantastical elements were also a little lacklustre: Tesara is the only character who uses any magic — and for the moment, she’s the only known magic user in all of Port Saint Frey. Since there’s no one to teach her about her abilities, Tesara’s magic is never fully understood or explained. What are the limitations of her abilities? Are there other types of magic? I would’ve liked at least some of these questions to be answered in THE SISTERS MEDEROS, but I do think the fact that I was interested enough to wonder about things beyond the scope of the story is a good sign. Hopefully these questions will be answered in the sequel!
Readers looking for a quirky historical adventure and those who won’t be disappointed by light fantasy elements will find lots to love in THE SISTERS MEDEROS, the first in a promising new series.