The Sisters Mederos by Patrice Sarath (Untitled #1)

Genre: Fantasy of Manners

Publisher: Angry Robot on April 3, 2018

Source: Publisher

My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

Two sisters fight with manners, magic, and mayhem to reclaim their family’s name, in this captivating historical fantasy adventure. View Spoiler »

  

House Mederos was one of the most powerful merchant families in Port Saint Frey until a horrible tragedy — and a series of mysterious events — ruined their fortunes. The family’s two daughters, Yvienne and Tesara, were spirited away in the night to protect them from the Merchant Guild’s justice.

Newly returned to Port Saint Frey, Yvienne and Tesara are much changed. The six years they spent at a harsh, cruel boarding school in the country hardened the sisters – and left Tesara disfigured and traumatized. Both sisters are eager to lift their family out of genteel poverty and back to their previous status…and to exact revenge on those who took everything from them. But who was it, and why? Could the family’s downfall have something to do with Tesara’s uncanny magical ability?

From masked bandits, controversial political manifestos, gambling schemes, and swindling their enemies, the daughters of House Mederos will stop at nothing to discover who targeted their family. Yvienne and Tesara’s capers are so zany and fun, and the added element of thumbing their noses at the Guild makes them even sweeter. If you’re looking for a fantasy of manners with lots of madcap action, then THE SISTERS MEDEROS is a good place to begin!

THE SISTERS MEDEROS has such likeable characters, particularly Yvienne. She’s a chameleon, adjusting to her lower status and shouldering the responsibility of providing for her family; Yvienne finds work as a governess, using her advanced education and novelty as a formerly high-status member of society to her advantage. I love a character with that kind of pluck! Tesara, the younger sister, struggles with her new reality and harbours some classist ideas that grated a little on me. In the end though, Tesara’s irrepressible spirit won me over…well, that and her card-counting skills.

As much as I loved Yvienne and Tesara, THE SISTERS MEDEROS does flounder in a few places. Given that the entire story is about unravelling the conspiracy that led to the downfall of the Mederos family, the “whodunnit and why” of it all was rather disappointing. The culprits are discovered quite quickly once the girls get the ball rolling, and their punishment is even more swift. I was hoping for a bit more twistiness, honestly.

The fantastical elements were also a little lacklustre: Tesara is the only character who uses any magic — and for the moment, she’s the only known magic user in all of Port Saint Frey. Since there’s no one to teach her about her abilities, Tesara’s magic is never fully understood or explained. What are the limitations of her abilities? Are there other types of magic? I would’ve liked at least some of these questions to be answered in THE SISTERS MEDEROS, but I do think the fact that I was interested enough to wonder about things beyond the scope of the story is a good sign. Hopefully these questions will be answered in the sequel!

Readers looking for a quirky historical adventure and those who won’t be disappointed by light fantasy elements will find lots to love in THE SISTERS MEDEROS, the first in a promising new series.

Do you plan to read THE SISTERS MEDEROS? How do you feel about stories with only the slightest touch of the fantastical? Let me know in the comments!

Comments(26)

  1. Sorry about the few things that disappointed you, but it sounds like it was quirky and fun nonetheless! I feel like a lot of the high fantasy I read doesn’t actually have much/any magic, it’s just set in a different world, so I don’t mind that as long as I kind of know what I’m getting into ahead of time (mood reading and all that).

    1. Thanks Kristen, this was definitely good despite my quibbles. I guess I was just hoping to like it more since this is such a “me” book on paper, ya know? That’s true, a different world and slightly magical setting does seem to be enough to constitute fantasy a lot of the time — and I’m good with it so long as I know what I’m getting.

  2. I’ve seen some mixed reviews of this book, but I’m glad there were elements that you enjoyed. I absolutely love the cover and it seems like it does a great job of representing the story😊

    1. I enjoyed this one a lot actually, just not as much as I was expecting, if that makes sense. The cover is awesome, and I’m quite interested to see what Angry Robot comes up with for the sequel.

  3. 100% agree with you on the complaints about explaining the magic system. IMO – if you want to build a good amount of tension (+ suspension of disbelief), you really need a solid explanation of the magic system early on. Otherwise it can feel too unclear what’s at stake.

    That said, I do like stories with only a little bit of magic sprinkled in. Whenever non-magical characters are like “but what is magic????” in reaction to the protagonist(s), it’s pretty great.

    1. I agree, establishing the magic system early on is key! And I don’t mind it too much if there isn’t a lot of detail, but I do expect *something* to be there. A sprinkling of magic is a-okay with me, and I agree, it’s ton of fun to see how people react to magic!

  4. It sounds like there’s a lot going on here. I like the idea of the story being about sisters! It’s a shame about the magic elements not being that developed. I do prefer light fantasy elements though so maybe it might work for me!

    1. There is a lot going on, haha. Tesara and Yvienne are such great characters and I love their relationship — it was loving even when it was strained, which I think is realistic. If you’re looking for a light fantasy caper, then this would be the perfect choice!

    • Karen

    • 4 years ago

    Some of things you dislike – lighter fantasy – are things that might make it a good fit for me. It sounds like a lot of fun!

    Karen @ For What It’s Worth

    1. Despite my quibbles, this one was a lot of fun for sure! Knowing your preference for light fantasy, I say go for it. 😊

  5. I was hoping for a higher rating to be honest, but it seems like you still really enjoyed it despite some of its more lackluster aspects. I’m still looking forward to reading my copy!

    1. I think I would’ve rated it higher had my expectations been lower…I was just expecting this to be such a slam dunk for me, and it fell a bit short. I hope you enjoy it!

    • Ankita Singh

    • 4 years ago

    Sounds like a fun read! Gteat review!

    Anky @Anky’s Book Bubble

    1. It was definitely a lot of fun. Thanks, Ankita!

  6. I like the sound of this one… Although the fact that the big reveal is a bit of a letdown isn’t great… I’m still seeing slightly more than an average book stars… So I’m going to keep an eye out for this one. I love quirky and adventures arealways good too! I definitely prefer heavier fantasy… But I might be persuaded!

    1. Definitely keep an eye out for this one, Di! I really enjoyed it despite my quibbles, and I think the sequel will be much stronger than the debut. I’ll certainly be reading it!

      1. Well if you’re going back for more there’s obviously something done right! Plus that COVER!! 😍Another one on the Danya TBR

  7. Although the premise sounds great, the fact that this needed more magic has me hesitant to add this to my TBR. Great Review!
    Tori @ In Tori Lex

    1. I know what you mean: more magic is pretty much a must-have for me. Thanks, Tori!

  8. oh my, Yvienne and Tesara are quite the pair! I laughed at the imagery of them thumbing their nose at the Guild, because from the cover, I wondered if they literally did that lol!! I would have expected that Tesara’s magic would have a bigger part to play in the story given the blrub.

    1. Aren’t they? I really enjoyed their antics, and my god, the adventures they have! I’m jealous of fictional adventures, for crying out loud! Tesara’s magic was a little too minimal for my liking, but I’m hoping that it’ll play a bigger role in the sequel.

  9. This sounds like an interesting read. I think it’s one I’d probably enjoy even if it did leave with you with quite a few unanswered questions about magic and how it works since no one else seems to have it (that’s obviously a thing to be explored in another book, you just know it is). I admit, I hate when there are too many unanswered or unexplored elements in a first book because I just know they’re doing it to try and draw me in to buying the next book and it feels a little lazy. I am intrigued by the sisters, though. They sounds pretty cool and like characters I’d enjoy reading about. I think I’ll have to check this out at some point.

    1. I think you would like this one, Becky! You’re right that the magic and its relative lack in everyone else will definitely be explored in the second book, and I’m guessing that I’ll prefer the second book to this one by quite a margin because of it. I agree, sometimes too many unanswered questions does feel lazy.

      The sisters are awesome! I definitely prefer Yvienne as a character, but Tesara is really well-developed too (and younger, so she comes across as a tiny bit bratty). Their antics were so much fun to read about!

    • Bookworm Brandee

    • 4 years ago

    It seems like the historical elements and the character development – at least with Tesara – make up for what the story lacks in other areas…at least to a point. You have me curious enough to see if my library carries this one, Danya. It sounds unlike anything I’ve read before, honestly. Great review!

    1. That’s definitely my take-away too: while some elements were lacking, what Sarath did well more than made up for them. Here’s hoping your library has a copy and you can give it a shot! Thank you, Brandee!

    • Lynn Williams

    • 4 years ago

    I enjoyed this. It was fun and I would read more of the sisters adventures. It had a few things that went unexplained, like you said. I don’t understand about the magic at all and there were a few things thrown into the mix that were unresolved. But I had fun, I cared about the family, the resolution was maybe a bit hasty but otherwise enjoyable.
    Lynn 😀

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