Title: Sisters of the Snake
Author: Sarena and Sasha Nanua
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: June 15th, 2021 (HarperTeen)
Synopsis: A lost princess. A dark puppet master. And a race against time—before all is lost.
Princess Rani longs for a chance to escape her gilded cage and prove herself. Ria is a street urchin, stealing just to keep herself alive.
When these two lives collide, everything turns on its head: because Ria and Rani, orphan and royal, are unmistakably identical.
A deal is struck to switch places—but danger lurks in both worlds, and to save their home, thief and princess must work together. Or watch it all fall into ruin.
Deadly magic, hidden temples, and dark prophecies: Sisters of the Snake is an action-packed, immersive fantasy that will thrill fans of The Crown’s Game and The Tiger at Midnight.
Thank you to the publisher, HarperCollins, and HCC Frenzy for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Ria, a street thief, breaks into the palace in hopes of stealing enough valuables to buy fake documents that will get her and her friend out of the kingdom to safety from the war that is looming. Things don’t go as expected however, when she runs into Princess Rani, who, to her shock, looks exactly like her. The girls quickly figure out that they must be twins who were separated for some reason. The Princess of Abai has led a privileged life, but longs to prove herself and sees an opportunity in the situation. They strike a deal to switch places for a time: Rani to see the world outside the palace that she has been kept from and Ria to experience the royal life while searching for the truth of why she was sent away. But danger lies in both their paths and the secrets and plots they uncover threaten the entire kingdom.
I was so excited to receive an ARC for this book since I’ve been looking forward to it all year. Not only is the cover gorgeous, but this is an Indian inspired retelling of sorts of The Prince and the Pauper – with magic! And what a rich and varied magic system it was! While the magical aspect of things and the lore behind the world are quite well explained, I would have liked to see more world-building in present day, such as what the other kingdoms are like. If they are going to become significant in the sequel, I will definitely need a map, since it was hard enough to keep track of where the twins were in this one with how fast paced the story was. I’m also interested to see if the other kinds of magic that weren’t shown in this book will be making an appearance. The narrative certainly wastes no time in kicking things off, the separated twins meeting within the first couple of chapters and switching places to set off on their respective quests once they figure out they are sisters.
Ria and Rani are both strong characters and both their arcs were delightful to follow. Rani finds out that what she has been told about life outside the palace is all a lie and resolves to make things right. Ria on the other hand, discovers that despite the luxury of royal life, there is a dangerous plot afoot that stretches far beyond whatever reason she was sent away from the palace for. The story is told from alternating POVs and while there were times when their voices sounded the same, it made the story so much more exciting to see both plotlines unfold at the same time. I’m really curious as to whether the authors each wrote one twin or both. The side characters, Amir and Saeed in particular, also have significant roles to play, and despite the focus largely being on the twins, I felt that the story did a great job of developing their storylines too. While the villain was kind of obvious very early on, their plots were fun to figure out and it went much deeper than I expected. I also appreciated that the story took the time to give the reader a look into the villain’s past and motivations, making them feel like a much more rounded character.
The only thing that didn’t feel natural in this book was how quickly the girls figured out they had to be sisters and agreed to switch places, if a little reluctantly on Ria’s part. It all felt a little hurried with neither of them taking the time to find out from the other exactly what kind of situation they were walking into regardless how little time they had at that moment. Ria and Rani were quite honestly, awful at impersonating each other, not surprising considering their different upbringings, which is why I found it a little unrealistic that their charade managed to last for as long as it did.
The ending was quite action-packed and moved the story along further than I expected for this book. The epilogue brought a really interesting twist and I can’t wait to see how it plays out in the sequel. This was a fantastic read, and even more impressive considering that this is the authors’ first foray into high fantasy. Sisters of the Snake was an engaging and well-written read and if you’re picking up one fantasy novel this summer, I’d highly recommend this one.
Sisters of the Snake releases on June 15th, 2021.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!