by Michelle Zink
Young Adult, 352 pages.
Little, Brown Young Readers (2009)
Shortly after her father’s death, Lia Milthorpe finds herself the centerpiece of an ancient prophecy. She also discovers she’s in direct opposition to her twin sister, Alice, at a time when she feels most alone in the world.
Lia must find secret clues her father left behind, figure out her role in the prophecy and stop Alice from unleashing dangerous evil that threatens the world as they know it.
An 1890’s historical novel, set in the Gothic landscape of upstate New York where the sun never seems to shine, PROPHECY OF THE SISTERS is a chilling glimpse of evil, of other dimensions and of the dark side of human nature.
The writing here is very atmospheric and evokes a dark, somber mood of dread that keeps the tensions high. As Lia and her friends and family get more and more enmeshed in the mythology of the Prophecy of the Sisters, the world around them gets even more creepy.
The various clues they uncover and the mythology Zink creates kept me interested in the story, as did the tension between Lia, who sees the good in human nature, and Alice, who has joined the dark side, as it were.
My only complaint about the story is that the entirety of the narrative is spent on characters doing research, hunting for clues and getting ready for the epic battle of good v. evil that we know is coming up in a subsequent book. If anything, this felt like prequel and preparation, not the main event. Still, it is a warm-up that I’m glad to have, and I’m sure that the other books in the trilogy will deliver the action so tantalizingly promised here.
For Readers: Fans of paranormal, Victorian or dark fantasy will love this book. It brings up a lot of questions about what it means to be part of a prophecy and to be responsible for the fate of the world. Usually, this kind of plot lands on the shoulders of some fantasy kick-ass action hero or heroine. Lia’s quiet, introspective character being saddled with this kind of responsibility is a new twist on a well-worn plot, and will win fans who’ll see themselves in the main character.
For Writers: There are a lot of prophecy books out there. If you’re writing one, I’d highly recommend picking up PROPHECY OF THE SISTERS because it delves deeply into the psychological impact that this prophecy has on the main character. A lot of heroes get slapped with a prophecy and then dive into it without looking back. How Lia handles her new role in the war between evil and good, as well as how this prophecy changes her family dynamic, is very realistic and human. Well done and well worth a thorough read.
You’ll also be smart to check out how Zink creates an entire mythology for the workings of this prophecy. The world she imagines is very thorough, with some great rules, and even encompasses seven Otherworlds! This aspect of the novel is airtight, very specific and totally believable.