Holy Sister (Ace publisher) is the conclusion of honestly one of the best coming-of-age fantasy trilogies I’ve ever read. The story builds further on the events of Grey Sister, coming to a satisfying conclusion. It brings together every thread of this and the previous books, finally giving is the full picture. It’s still a story about love, loyalty, and friendship. Nona is by far my most favorite heroine of all time. If you love these stories as well, be sure to check out Mark’s blog, and his unofficial website for updates.
Note: If you haven’t read the previous books yet, please do that before reading this review, as it may contain spoilers of those books. You can check out my review of Red Sister, and of Grey Sister as well.
In Holy Sister we follow two story lines: one that follows directly after the events of Grey Sister, and one that takes place back at the convent, three years later. The Corridor is narrowing further and further, and a war is becoming inevitable. And Nona also still has to choose what path see will take when becoming a full sister in the order of her choice. She has to play her part in the long game Abbess Glass envisioned, but she is torn between her friends, not knowing how she can save them all.
Again, the story itself was amazing. Mark is a master in telling a story with different timelines, and Holy Sister is no different. The past and present are interweaved beautifully without being confusing, and they come together to create a wonderful and thrilling climax. The final conclusion of the story is also fitting and leaves you with a comforting feeling.
“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 just absolutely love Nona. She’s fully developed, with many flaws and many great qualities, and she continued to grow throughout the series. Nona is smarter in Holy Sister, taking a page from Abbess Glass’ book. And, she’s really matured into a wonderful woman, who’s a force to be reckoned with. The other characters are also great, especially Ara and Zole. Zole brings into question whether you should rid yourself of your flaws; what will remain of you when you do? Will you still be you? It’s something Nona struggles with as well. The relationship between Ara and Nona also continues to blossom, even though Nona’s also involved with Regol. I rarely use the word ‘ship’ or whatever, but I do ship Nona and Ara. They’re great together.
“All leaves must fall in time, she had said. The lives we lived fall away from us, but something remains, something that is part of the tree.”
If you think you’ve now seen all there is to Abeth, you’re wrong! In Holy Sister, we get to see what it’s like out on the ice. We don’t get all the info on ice tribes and such, but you get a pretty good idea of how tough life on the ice is. It also tells us more about the demons, or ‘Missings,’ such as Keot. Once again, the world-building complements the story beautifully, and not once do you get the feeling that something is there just for the sake of showing it off.
“A million words won’t push the ice back, not even the breadth of a finger. But one word will break a heart, two will mend it, and three will lay the highest low.”
I don’t want to repeat myself too much by saying again how much I love Mark’s prose, so I won’t go into that again. The way he told the story did create suspense, which was amplified by the choice of having the two different time-lines. The words were infused with emotion, and all you want is to see Nona succeed, and her enemies to burn. That’s some powerful writing right there.
To conclude, Holy Sister, and the whole Book of the Ancestor trilogy is a masterwork in my book. I would recommend it to anyone, but especially those who love a good coming-of-age fantasy story, with a darker edge than your typical YA dystopian fantasy, and if you love a kick-ass heroine, who shows continuous growth throughout the series. Not to mention non-stereotypical characters that are developed well, a complex and compelling world and themes of love, friendship, and accepting your flaws. You cannot go wrong with this trilogy.