Characters & their development: 5
Personal enjoyment: 5
-the tying in of timelines & characters
-the final battle
The ice is advancing, the Corridor narrowing, and the empire is under siege from the Scithrowl in the east and the Durns in the west. Everywhere, the emperor’s armies are in retreat.
Nona faces the final challenges that must be overcome if she is to become a full sister in the order of her choice. But it seems unlikely that Nona and her friends will have time to earn a nun’s habit before war is on their doorstep.
Even a warrior like Nona cannot hope to turn the tide of war.
The shiphearts offer strength that she might use to protect those she loves, but it’s a power that corrupts. A final battle is coming in which she will be torn between friends, unable to save them all. A battle in which her own demons will try to unmake her.
A battle in which hearts will be broken, lovers lost, thrones burned.
there might not be a meaning to the world, or in it, but that does not mean that what we do has no meaning
I have followed this series loyally since Red Sister when I was a young wee blogger. I commented on a picture by HarperCollins NZ and they sent me Red Sister in return. It ended up being my favourite adult fantasy book that I had ever read at the time. Holy Sister, lives up to that hype.
Holy Sister is set in a world where the sun is dying, and the ice of the north and south poles is advancing. Humanity lives in a sliver of land called ‘the corridor’ and to survive, they must push east and west, into other territories. This brings war onto Nona Grey’s doorstep and as a sister of sweet mercy, she must take up a sword and fight.
This book takes up two timelines that are three years apart and brings together another timeline. Let’s talk about the mysterious timeline. At the start and end of both Red Sister and Grey sister we see a fight on the rise with Sisters Thorn and Cage, we see glimpses into this and it’s a bloody, dangerous battle. But in Holy Sister, one of the most satisfying moments was watching the lead up to this scene and seeing it unfold. The other timeline is set three years before when Nona and Zole are on the run. It was interesting to watch the timeline from three years ago, and see how it affected the current timeline.
This was full of painful deaths, especially towards the end. I found myself constantly crying as the story focused in on the cost of war, which is something we don’t often see. It focused in on how many people actually die in a war, and the horrific and sad ways they do, either by sacrificing themselves for those they love or by fighting to the death. I found this novel really showed that well, rather than ignoring it.
The character development in this was beautiful. We saw Nona go from a girl with a heart made for vengeance, to a woman who had to learn to put aside her pain and anger, to choose what was better for the world. Not only did she grow, but we saw some of her foes in bright light, we saw that one was just a child who made mistakes and that others, were no real foe when compared to the others that were marching down the Empires door.
Personally, I loved this book for how it zoomed out and took us from a story about a girl to a story about a world. There was a beautiful world building in this that tied together loose ends, and I felt like all the characters had their rightful ending. I also have a lot of love for Nona, the Bi main character getting to be in a relationship with a fellow sister. It was a beautifully LGBTQIA+ positive moment that I appreciated. I also appreciated that there wasn’t a kill your gay’s trope, because while some deaths couldn’t be avoided, the author made sure that at the end there were some LGBT role models left, and I appreciated that a lot.