There is something almost sweetly Victorian about the new fantasy novel, The Sisters Mederos
(Angry Robot, 2018), by Patrice Sarath
, which concerns two young sisters enduring misfortune. The opening chapters reminded me of the childhood classic, The Little Princess
, published in 1905. Yvienne and her magical sister, Tesera, daughters of a once rich trading family, are sent to a school for paupers, when their family is accused by creditors hungry for their downfall. In the traditional of some YA novels, Yvienne and Tesera’s parents are inept and depressed, and their uncle is a foolish lecher, forcing the young girls to shoulder responsibility for each other. Into their miserable lives comes Mathilde, a cheery housekeeper who knows how to do much on a shoestring budget, and is capable of putting Uncle Samwell in his place.
This charming novel avoids disturbing and tragic scenes: the worst that happens is that one heroine is forced to serve some merchants dinner while wearing a maid’s uniform and being mocked. Amorous adventures are discreetly referred to as sparking, without more graphic details. We may have come up with the analogue of the cozy mystery here; a tale gripping enough to keep you reading at night, and hoping for exposure of the villain, but a story that takes place in a familiar and nostalgic setting, even if it is an imaginary one.
Gabrielle Mathieu is the author of the historical fantasy Falcon series
(The Falcon Flies Alone, and the upcoming
The Falcon Strikes.
) She blogs about travel and her books at http://gabriellemathieu.com/. You can also follow her on Twitter to get updates about new podcasts and more @GabrielleAuthor.