Review: ‘The Sisterhood’ by Alison Clarke

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51YkXPpOjLLThe Sisterhood by Alison Clarke is a young adult novel about a teenage sorceress named Opportunae who is descendant from the line of King Arthur. The narrator’s voice is very strong in this book, providing a lot of information about Opportunae.
One gets the clear impression that Alison Clarke is a highly imaginative and creative author. Her premise that there was a second, hidden part to the legend of King Arthur, where women were at the fore and were part of their own round table serving the King is nothing short of brilliant. It is also based upon historical records. Women have always fought
Where The Sisterhood falls short is in the mechanics. Everything seems to be happening in an eternal now. Things that should be foreshadowed are instead related during the heat of a battle. An example is the lineage of a special sword. Rather than introduce the sword earlier, perhaps when introducing the character that wields it, the sword is mentioned, along with its lineage in the heat of a pitched battle.

The Sisterhood would benefit greatly from the deft hand of a good editor. Editing is difficult and to be honest, in my opinion, tends to suck the joy right out of creating but it is necessary. The Sisterhood is written with a clear joy, but also in a somewhat chaotic manner.

The narrator’s base of reference is quite confusing. For example Opportunae is supposed to be an average girl, wholly average, except that she is descendant from the line of Arthur and has access to artifacts that others do not. Yet, she is known by powerful beings and without any question, accepted into the circles of powerful beings. So either average doesn’t mean what we think it means, or Opportunae is not average

Also Opportunae’s favorite television shows are from the ‘70s but the story is not set in the 70’s, at least as far as can be told, so figuring out the timeline is difficult. Thinking too much about where and when seems to detract from the story.

I don’t like writing negative reviews and I’m not the target audience but The Sisterhood for all its whimsy and creativity relies heavily on clichés. The world seems poorly defined, populated with every fantasy creature, god, goddess and animal throughout the realm of myth and legend.

Some of the references and jumps were so random seeming as to be distracting from the story itself. I don’t think just having female main characters is enough to carry a book on its own. Granted there aren’t nearly enough female main characters out there and I appreciate authors who write them.

There are a lot of interesting ideas in The Sisterhood. In fact it suffers from too many ideas. There are too many fantastic creatures, too many goddesses, too many settings and too much too fast. Nothing feels earned.

Alison Clarke has an excellent vocabulary and a way with descriptions that could with a good editor make any world feel rich and vibrant. There is a kernel of something really good in there but there is too much repetition, too much exposition going on. Things that should be important are glossed over.

Because of the lack of serious foreshadowing there is a frantic note to the voice of the text. One imagines the narrator as breathless in the telling.

Opportunae gets to meet Hera, the queen of the gods and no question is asked. Rather Opportunae is expected. Meeting Hera could be a whole book unto itself. Completing the tasks required to prove oneself worthy to meet the queen of the gods of the Greek Pantheon should be something that takes some time and involves no small amount of danger. But the nod to danger feels just like that—a nod.

Opportunae also gets to meet Yahwah. That could be another whole book. There are opportunities here to really delve into something profound, to really involve the character in some growth but they are skimmed over as Opportunae flits from one important, life altering (for mere mortals) meeting to the next; this ordinary girl.

I get the feeling that Alison Clark through the narrator is trying to cram too much information into too short a span of the story. An example is that the reader is told that Opportunae’s father died when she was very young. But it is mentioned almost in passing. The reader never gets a chance to really process this information before the story moves on. Opportunae doesn’t seem particularly impacted by it either.

The Sisterhood is pure escapism. It’s a quick and easy read that makes no demands of the reader. There is little to no emotional involvement with the characters and it is a book that is easily put down and picked up later: Or, put down and forgotten.

The Sisterhood is available now. To order from Amazon, click the link in the title.

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