This has truly been one of the most painful books I’ve read in a while.
It’s actually free for download on Kindle and Google Books, so I picked it up on a recommendation from a friend. My friend thought that the premise of the book was my kind of thing: it’s like historical fantasy, with politics and court drama. What’s not to love?
A warning, there will be spoilers for the book. I thought about making this non-spoilery and keeping spoilers in skippable dropdowns because I want everyone to be able to read this (I wrote over 8000 words, okay), but that means pretty much all of the review will end up in spoiler dropdowns.
So I’m sorry. Maybe the synopsis won’t sound like your kind of book so you won’t care and will read the post anyway? And I can honestly give a non-spoilery review of this book in like 4 phrases: insta-love; flat and boring characters; i don’t get this plot or world; at the end, i just wanted to melt into a frustrated mess.
That is a very accurate summation of my entire experience with this book. But what’s the fun in a summary?
Without further ado, let’s get started.
Young Adult, Fantasy, Histfic
A Throne For Sisters
by Morgan Rice
In A THRONE FOR SISTERS (Book one), Sophia, 17, and her younger sister Kate, 15, are desperate to leave their horrific orphanage. Orphans, unwanted and unloved, they nonetheless dream of coming of age elsewhere, of finding a better life, even if that means living on the streets of the brutal city of Ashton.
Sophia and Kate, also best friends, have each other’s backs—and yet they want different things from life. Sophia, a romantic, more elegant, dreams of entering court and finding a noble to fall in love with. Kate, a fighter, dreams of mastering the sword, of battling dragons, and becoming a warrior. They are both united, though, by their secret, paranormal power to read other’s minds, their only saving grace in a world that seems bent to destroy them.
As they each embark on a quest and adventure their own ways, they struggle to survive. Faced with choices neither can imagine, their choices may propel them to the highest power—or plunge them to the lowest depths.
trigger warnings: attempted sexual assault, abuse (physical and emotional)*
*these are some that I noticed while reading
The First Few Chapters (Where Bad Decisions Are Made)
The book starts off with main character number 1, seventeen year old Sophia, at an orphanage where the nuns are keen on reminding the girls that they are worthless through brutal abuse. Our dear Sophia is sitting here knowing that she will be the last to be punished, and dreading it terribly.
Suddenly, she has a lightbulb moment where she thinks that “she could just leave”. Sophia thinks this over for a few seconds, knowing that leaving will result in severe punishment, but more willing to risk death on the street than the punishment of the orphanage. She doesn’t care anymore. Apparently, something in her has crossed the line, and she’s ready to make an escape after so many years there. why now and not any time before, I have no idea
Fast forward to her attempted escape, and she ends up getting herself into a fight with some guys from the boys orphanage next door, and uses telepathy to call for her sister’s help. Already, it’s not just historical fiction, it’s a fantasy historical fiction, and that’s fine, the telepathy can definitely be interesting.
Enter main character number 2. Kate, fifteen years old, hears this message and drops everything she’s doing to save her sister, and from there they make their grand escape from the House of the Unclaimed.
This is not a bad start. A little iffy because I was wondering “why didn’t they try to escape earlier and why didn’t they plan this better” but it’s not a terribly bad start. During this process of escape, we also get to see the kind of people that Sophia and Kate are.
Sophia is the more “ladylike” of the two, and not a good fighter.
Kate is the tomboy who kind of likes hurting people a little too much.
Sophia is the emotional one.
Kate is the levelheaded one.
The next few chapters detail their adventure as they try to survive the city while avoiding the watchmen and the boys from the orphanage that are chasing them. They have to figure out what they’re going to do with themselves now, but both girls want vastly different things. Kate wants to leave the city and learn to survive off the country, while Sophia wants to go try her luck at Court.
Personally, I thought they had a better chance at surviving in the country than they did at Court. Let’s be real, they’ve both been in an orphanage since they were little, they know nothing of the nobility, they have no name, no family, nowhere to even sleep. The country will not ask difficult questions; in fact, it won’t ask any at all. They’d probably have a really tough time, but it’s more plausible than them somehow making it through Court.
At the same time, I was excited to see just how cunning Sophia could be to pull off being a noble woman and was hoping that they ended up doing that nonetheless.
Eventually the two of them come to a decision.
An incredibly mind-boggling decision.
They decide to split up so that each girl can pursue her dream.
I don’t know about you, but if me and my younger sister had just been in an orphanage where we’d been beaten and abused daily, and I’d just managed to escape, I would stick. to. my. sister’s. side. like. glue. There would be no. way. in any world or universe where I would decide that leaving her, when there are men looking for us ready to drag us back to horrors better left unspoken, to pursue her dream while I pursue mine is the best thing to do. I would swallow whatever dream I had as the older sister, and the one technically responsible for her, and follow her to ensure she remained safe.
How on earth do you decide that becoming a noble lady is somehow more important than making sure your younger, impulsive, and hot-headed sister is safe?
And what makes it even more baffling to me is that Sophia, the older sister, was the one to suggest that they each “try [their] own way [separately], at least for a little while”.
That was the first big problem I had with the characters, and I started to grow skeptical of Sophia in that moment. She justifies this absurd reasoning by saying that if one of them gets caught, at least the other can come save her. And she also says that Kate won’t ever be alone because with their telepathy, they will only be a thought away.
There’s something a bit problematic with that, because at the start of the story, Sophia keeps mentioning how unreliable their telepathy is, that it can come unbidden at times, and might not actually work properly at other times. So no, Sophia dear, you aren’t just a thought away, you are a thought with some-serious-prayer-and-hope-that-it-works away.
Nonetheless, the two of them do indeed split up.
Our Lovable Main Characters
I’m going to cover Sophia’s storyline separately from Kate’s since they both went on different paths during the story. Most of my complaints are going to be under Sophia’s storyline, so keep on reading for all the tea.
Older Sister Sophia, 17 yro
The next chapter after their decision to split up follows Sophia’s transformation from a runaway orphan to a noble lady. She finds out that a ball is going to be held at the palace, and decides that this is her golden ticket into the nobility super convenient btw. She pretends to be a lady’s servant picking up a dress, shoes, hat, etc. for her lady in preparation for the ball, and then takes all these wonderful pilfered items to a bathhouse where she washes and dresses herself up in her new disguise.
She also begins mimicking how the nobles talk and is surprised at how “it came easily, her voice adjusting as quickly as the rest of her had”.
Obviously she was born to be a noble.
Eventually, she gets to the ball and is trying to decide who her mark will be. Our darling Sophia’s entire plan is to find some rich noble, make him fall in love with her, marry him, and then enjoy riches and luxury for the rest of her life.
There are so many holes with that plan, but you know what, let’s just go with it.
She arrives, she’s bossing a poor concerned servant around, and in general being extremely haughty and snappish because she’s afraid that her lie will be exposed. I’m annoyed for the servant, the least she could do is be nice to them since even she was below them in the social hierarchy up until an hour ago. She knows what it’s like to be abused and trodden on, so perhaps she could show a little kindness? It’s not their fault that her plan is so half-baked it’s giving her anxiety.
Even though it’s a masked ball, she undergoes a makeup transformation at the hands of a girl named Cora who also is from the orphanage that Sophia just escaped from. After helping her with her makeup, the girl smartly hides the mark on Sophia’s calf that declares her an unwanted orphan so that no one will know Sophia’s true identity.
Our darling Sophia obviously hadn’t thought of that, and I was just silently thanking Cora for watching out for Sophia. Even though I wouldn’t be too sad if Sophia’s plan failed.
Sorry not sorry.
After this makeup episode, she rejoins the ballroom and soon thereafter catches the eye of the wonderful Prince Sebastian, second son to the dowager who rules the land. She instantly feels her pulse quickening as she watches him make his way around the room. When she realizes that he’s a prince, she tries to turn her attention elsewhere because he’s obviously too high on the ladder for her to catch. But before she can, she reads the thoughts of an evil young noble woman who plans on drugging the Prince and then taking him to bed so that when she gets pregnant, he will have to marry her.
Of course, our Sophia is aghast at this and must stop it at once. She rushes forward and discreetly saves the day by stealing the pouch containing the sedative, and giving the noble woman a dose of her own medicine.
And then Sophia decides that Prince Sebastian is the only person that is the right fit for her and approaches him for phase two of her plan.
This is where the start of my pain begins.
Sophia’s supposedly unreliable telepathy has been very very reliable so far tonight, and she’s been using it to eavesdrop on the courtiers so she can have a sense of what’s going on politically and socially. She’s used the information that she’s gathered to create an identity for herself: Sophia of Meinhalt, a noble woman from a war torn state where no one can confirm whether she truly exists or not.
Her telepathy is also her advantage when she makes her move towards the Prince, as she reads his mind and says all the right things (we’ll talk about this mindreading business later). After exchanging a total of three, three, sentences with him, she feels a little guilty for her deception, but:
at the same time, she felt more of a connection to Sebastian as he stood next to her than to any of the others there. He felt real while so many others seemed like simple facades. The truth was that she liked him, and it seemed as though he liked her.
a throne for sisters (pg. 65)
Three exchanges you guys. She said one sentence, he said another, she said sentence two, he replied, she said sentence three, he replied, and THEN SHE THINKS SHE LIKES HIM and that he likes her.
Sure, maybe he finds her alluring and pretty and is thinking so, and she is violating his privacy by reading his mind to know this, but there’s a difference between that and actually truly liking someone.
Things get progressively worse from here where the two of them dance and Sophia asks him more questions about himself and thinks she likes him even more.
Let me turn my annoyance on Sebastian for a minute.
He is a prince. A second prince at that, not destined to rule, but still a prince. He lives in the shadow of his sleazy and cruel older brother who has been established as a… womanizer is not the right word, but he holds very little regard for women, and people in general. Sebastian is supposed to be the plain angelic brother in contrast.
Sebastian has grown up at court all his life. Somebody please tell me, why is he falling head over heels for this girl who he knows nothing about, who avoids questions about herself by turning the conversation back to him, who for all he knows could be a spy of an enemy kingdom trying to get beyond his defenses so she can gain access to the palace, and who knows, kill his mom or steal important secrets? Especially when there’s a war going on?
How kind and generous must this Court be for him not to immediately suspect the worst from her? How clueless is he to fall in love without thinking twice??
Even if he’s a second prince who’s supposed to hate court and duty and all that stuff, how could he be so clueless about how it all works? About how people just want to use you and take advantage of you?
A page later, the two of them finally stop dancing after apparently three hours of course Sophia thought it had barely been an hour because she’s so busy being in love as the ball has come to an end. Remember, this was a masked ball, so Sebastian takes off his mask and Sophia’s heart swells even more at just how handsome he is. Sebastian does the honors of taking her mask off, and also thinks that she is so heavenly beautiful.
And then he thinks a statement that killed any hope that I had for this relationship:
Is this… is this what love feels like?
a throne for sisters (pg. 69)
*screams into the void*
Let’s digress for a bit to talk about instalove
Instalove is the equivalent of adding the word “instant”, meaning happening or coming immediately, and the word “love” which is an intense feeling of deep affection.
By that, instalove means an immediate intense feeling of deep affection.
Now, this is not actually a bad thing, I’m sure parents when seeing their children for the first time, they do get this feeling. Maybe pet owners experience this as well. I’m sure there are several things in life that you instantly just love and want to protect at all costs. It’s not completely implausible, and it’s not a bad thing; it’s actually quite nice and heartwarming to watch from the outside.
However, the reason it gets such a bad rap in the bookish world is because it’s widely overused, and poorly executed. And when I say poorly executed, I mean that mess that we were just talking about kind of poorly executed.
I don’t think it’s feasible to meet a stranger for the very first time, and actually just instantly develop such deep affection for them. You may like them, you may find them interesting, but an instant deep affection when you know nothing about them? I don’t know, I just don’t buy it.
There’s a difference between meeting someone for the first time and thinking you’ve fallen in love with them, and knowing someone for a period of time, and then reaching a moment where you realize that you have actually developed affection for this individual. Maybe you never were expecting love to come from this, maybe you really only thought of them as an acquaintance or a work partner, but in a moment, maybe you find out that they’re in danger or they’ve been hurt, and all of a sudden the wind has been knocked out of you and you realize that you actually care for them a lot more than you thought you did.
That kind of love is the one that wins in books because there’s so much more layer and substance to it. And it’s a lot more believable than “hey, I just saw you across the street, and this is it, I want to marry you, have kids with you, die for you, fight the whole world for you!”
Seriously, if someone just walked up to you on a random street and said that they’d fallen in love with you at first sight, you’d probably slap them and run away screaming.
Instalove is kind of worse in books because usually both sides are the ones that feel this way, and suddenly, three hours after spinning in little circles with each other, they both think that this is love and they’re willing to face all the world’s pain for one another.
Come on guys, we’re not in a Disney movie!
Side note: I actually sent a message to my friend at one point comparing Sophia and Sebastian to Anna and Hans from Frozen. I swear, they are literally one and the same, and Anna X Hans is a great example of a Disney movie version of instalove.
Actually, let’s use Anna’s relationships here for a second! I guess this is slightly spoilery if you haven’t watched Frozen, so I’ll leave it in the spoiler tag below (even though it’s Disney, there’s not much to spoil tbh).
Click here to see my thoughts on Anna X Hans & its similarities to Sophia X Sebastian
Anna and Hans meet after they collide and she nearly falls into the water or a boat, or something of the sort – the details don’t matter (it’s been a while since I watched it okay). But they both share this moment of “oh, s/he’s cute” and get flustered and all at the awkward position they find themselves in. Anna eventually leaves, but they find each other at the ball again and then start dancing and singing, and finishing each other’s lines.
Let’s be generous and say that in real time, they’ve known each other for 3 hours like our dear Sophia and Sebastian (even though it probably was like 10 minutes in the movie).
10 minutes 3 hours after meeting, Hans says he’s about to say something crazy, and he proposes, and Anna is like “you know what’s crazier? I say YES!”.
*bangs head on the wall*
Anyway, they rush off to Elsa, so intoxicated on their fresh, young, undying love and ask her to bless them, and Elsa is me:
“What in the world? You wanna get married? You met like two seconds ago, you don’t know anything about him! I can’t bless that, that’s insane!”
Of course, she’s more polite about it, but Anna gets all upset and the rest of the movie proceeds.
Isn’t this exactly like our Sophia and Sebastian? Sophia is Hans, Sebastian is Anna, both “couples” equally ridiculous in their instant presumption that their hours long meeting has resulted in so called love. And I say Sophia is Hans, Sebastian is Anna because of things that I will discuss later, but just bear with me for a minute.
Anna X Hans is instalove.
But you know what was more wholesome and more believeable? Anna X Kristoff.
The two of them meet because Anna needs to find a way to her sister, and they start talking candidly with each other and getting on each other’s last nerves. They both don’t like each other (they think) so there’s no holds barred when it comes to everything that they think and feel.
Now this, this is the kind of romance that works, because there isn’t any instalove that’s leaving the reader/viewer scratching their head rereading/rewinding trying to see where this so called love came from. This has two people been absolutely real and genuine with each other which is what leads to a better outcome in the future.
Instalove seems to be more prevalent in Young Adult fiction, and it’s enough to sour my reading experience, especially when it isn’t addressed very well, and it’s made to be the ultimate romance.
It’s not romance. It’s infatuation and desire that is somehow supposed to be oh so cute and wonderful, but in reality is more of a headache inducer.
And I want to take this moment to separate instalove from crushes.
I don’t think a crush equals instalove and vice versa, because when you have a crush, you don’t become some lovesick fool who thinks that this is it, I’m going to spend the rest of my life with this person and die by their side.
Crushes are more like liking someone and admiring them, and wanting to get to know them better. It’s not “love“, it’s just really liking someone and wanting to get to know them.
I don’t think I did a good job explaining that, but personally, I think the two are vastly different. Especially because crushes don’t tend to happen in YA where love and dating is more of a life or death situation. Crushes seem more “childish” in a way and I think they’re found in middle grade novels a lot more. And there’s one aspect of crushes that instalove doesn’t share with it: they are usually one sided.
I don’t think I’ve actually heard of a two way crush, it’s almost always one person secretly liking and admiring the other, and not having the guts to go tell them how they feel. In contrast, instalove is almost always a two way exchange with both parties supposedly loving each other.
Crushes are cute. Instalove is often not.
Now, back to Sophia’s World
I’m gong to fastforward a bit: after the ball, the two of them spend the night together, and so Sophia doesn’t have to somehow procure a magic manor where she supposedly is staying. The next day comes and Sophia is exploring the castle while Sebastian is off doing some duty, and she meets his sleazy older brother who tries to take advantage of her. This is foiled by Sebastian’s uncanny timing, and things move along to where Sophia meets Sebastian’s mother, the dowager, the night after she first meets Sebastian.
This was a very interesting encounter, because thank goodness, the dowager is no fool and doesn’t take Sophia at face value like her son did. She attempts to quiz her about Meinhalt, but Sophia manages to stay afloat and answer correctly by invading her fellow dinner guests’ privacy, before turning the conversation away from herself to escape further scrutiny. The dowager of course still thinks that she needs to look into Sophia especially if she’s going to be a match for Sebastian, which of course makes Sophia uneasy, but I was actually silently cheering.
And no, I’m not the slightest bit sorry for cheering when things aren’t going well for the main character. No one ever said I had to like the main character anyway.
But after this dinner, Sophia is feeling rather unsettled and sets off to go talk to her sister and they have a conversation sharing what’s been happening in their lives. And then they go back to their separate paths. When she’s back, Sebastian has a whole day planned out for them with a boat ride and a picnic, with an artist to capture the whole scene.
They share some more cheesy lovey dovey stuff, and talk about how the wars are getting closer. Apparently, Sebastian is going to have to go on a campaign soon and leave Sophia behind. But before this happens, Sebastian drops to one knee and proposes.
this is the second day of them knowing each other.
s e c o n d d a y.
he doesn’t even know she has a sister.
and he’s proposing.
And because it’s Sophia we’re talking about, she says yes.
28 pages after first meeting, they are engaged.
I don’t even know where to start from.
I genuinely have no idea.
Lol, what I’m thinking now is, at least Sebastian didn’t propose 3 hours after dancing like Hans did to Anna? I mean, we should be so thankful that he waited at least one day!
Y’all, I can’t 😭
Ah finally, Everything starts to unravel
Okay, now that I’ve composed myself, l’m going to condense the wonderful disaster that happens next into one paragraph, because this post is getting really long and I still need to talk about Kate. And I’m not being sarcastic when I say wonderful, I was actually so happy when this happened.
Basically, they get engaged, and Sophia is all giddy and excited and jumps into wedding planning. Sebastian has to go attend to some duty or what not so she’s on her own, so delighted with herself at not just making it in court but actually Making It by marrying a prince. Then Sebastian arrives all confused and angry, and takes her to a private study where he shows her the painting that the artist took of them at the picnic-turned-proposal. Unfortunately for our darling Sophia, she showed a little too much leg and hadn’t reapplied the cream to hide the mark that was now going to be her undoing.
ok i lied, *condensed into two paragraphs
Sebastian demands she explain the mark, and Sophia is so taken aback and panicked that she forgets to use her accent. Remember how at the start she was copying the nobles’ accent? She had made it sound like she wasn’t from around town to add plausibility to her Sophia of Meinhalt identity, so the entire time she’d been with Sebastian, she’d been using this accent. Now our naïve Sebastian makes a statement that made me throw up my hands, because I just have no words.
“Even your voice isn’t real?” Sebastian said, and now he sounded distraught. “We’ve known each other… what? Days, at best. We don’t know anything about one another, do we? Who are you?”
a throne for sisters (pgs. 140-141)
*laughs so hard*
At least he’s finally woken up from his delusions?
This is the same girl that he proposed to one chapter back y’all. The same girl. But guess what, he’s just had an epiphany.
Sophia begins to feel everything unraveling around her, her idyllic dream of a future slowly dissipating into dust.
She wanted desperately to tell him everything. About herself, her past, and above all, about how much she genuinely loved him. About how, even if all else was fake, her love for him was real. About how she never meant to hurt him. How her lying, her behaving like this, wasn’t even her.
a throne for sisters (pg. 141)
Right, yup, you just weren’t planning on hiding your past and whole identity for the rest of your life. Yup, all this lying and concealing is so unlike you, your pure heart isn’t like that, you don’t even know what came upon you. You must have been possessed.
The part that gets me is this: “even if all else was fake, her love for him was real”.
No Sophia. It was not.
You didn’t love him; you loved what he offered, and you were just infatuated with him! He’s your own real life prince charming, of course you “loved” him. Everything else that you’ve done has been fake, so why on earth should anyone believe that this love is actually also real?
And she says she desperately wanted to tell him everything.
So go ahead. Tell.
Of course, she doesn’t. Sebastian flies into a rage and is destroying poor innocent precious pieces of art that did nothing to him (i really felt the most sorry for those paintings), and she’s just standing there saying she didn’t want it to be like this. Sebastian is finally getting the rest of his senses and yelling about how she tricked him, only wanting to take advantage of him, his wealth, and position and saying that she never cared for him at all.
This breaks poor little Sophia’s heart, even though it’s the truth which she doesn’t acknowledge. She did come here to trick some noble, to take advantage of his wealth and position so she could live as a noble forever. She still hasn’t seen a problem with that idea, but the fact that her lie is now unraveling and destroying “what she has” with Sebastian (in quotes because she doesn’t really have anything in my humble opinion), now her heart is hurting.
She starts crying, saying that she has nowhere to go. But then Sebastian is calming down and there’s a look akin to pity in his face, and our proud Sophia doesn’t want his pity, so she takes off her ring, drops it on the floor and runs out of the palace. thank goodness Sebastian didn’t follow, I would have totally lost it if he had
It’s time to have a party y’all!!!!
🎉🎉 Official ship number one has officially sunk, and never have I been so glad about such a thing. 🎉🎉
Another side note returning to my Anna from Frozen reference
So remember how I said Sophia is Hans and Sebastian is Anna? This is why.
They’re definitely not exact fits for each other, but if you were to interchange the characters from each story, then that’s how it would line up. I never knew (or can’t remember) if Hans came to Arendelle with the intent of taking advantage of some princess, or if he just worked with the opportunity that Anna gave him. But either way, his motivations were quite similar to Sophia’s, though Sophia didn’t attempt to commit murder by leaving her so called love to die.
I guess I should give her points for that.
Sebastian and Anna were also different in their own ways, but they were both still the incredibly naïve prince/princess that thought true love was dancing for 3 hours. And they were both betrayed by the person they thought they loved, which is a shame, but hopefully they’ve learned their lesson. (at least Anna did, who knows about Sebastian)
Fine, fine, I’ll stop being happy about this for a second and be more serious.
I don’t hate Sophia…okay fine, I loathe her. She’s incredibly naïve, she doesn’t think very far about the consequences of her decisions, then proceeds to make extremely bad decisions, and then she’s all “woe is me, i’m the victim here” when everything falls apart. When it’s her fault that everything ended up the way that it did. So, I feel zero sympathy for her or her situation because I don’t think she deserves it at this point. She’s 17 years old, has faced cruelty and abuse for who knows how long, but she acts like an eight year old child who just found out that princesses are real and don’t exist just in movies.
If anything, I would expect her to be more careful with what she does, to be mistrustful of everyone, to actually want to keep Sebastian at arms length even though she’s trying to get engaged to him, because she’s been through so much abuse and she has only had herself and her sister to rely on for so long.
I would have thought that her fear of ending up back on the streets would make her more careful with her plans, more determined to get everything right and to ensure that she has insurance so that in case her worst fears came to pass and she’s back on the street, at least she isn’t destitute all over again.
She could have had so much more potential if she hadn’t become a lovesick fool two seconds after meeting the so called love of her life.
My dislike for her grew tenfold in her next chapter where she’s walking in town after fleeing the palace.
Now, though, it just hurt with the sense of loss that had been there ever since Sebastian had told her that she had to go. It didn’t matter that he didn’t want this any more than she did. What mattered was that he’d said it. He’d turned her out onto the street as surely as his brother would have after he’d gotten what he wanted. He’d said it was to protect Sophia, but wasn’t it really just as much to protect himself? Wasn’t he really just worried about what would happen when his mother or the other nobles found out who he’d fallen in love with?
Sophia felt the heat of the tears falling as she walked, and didn’t even try to hold them back. No one looked her way as she kept going along the cobbled streets of one of Ashton’s wealthier quarters. Nobody stared at her broken-hearted wandering. Nobody cared enough to look.
a throne for sisters (pg. 150)
Um, I think you were the one who took off your ring and ran unceremoniously from the palace. Sebastian didn’t tell you to do anything. He just watched you cry yourself a river when faced with your own treachery. I’m so upset and angry by this passage, you don’t even understand. Sure, Sebastian had his faults and he had this coming, but how dare she now turn this on him and pretend that he’s the one who did something terrible?
She. Tricked. Him. She pretended to be someone she wasn’t, she even had a fake accent for crying out loud. She didn’t tell him anything about her true self, just some vague sad references here and there that Sebastian assumed meant about Meinhalt’s downfall. He has every right to ask her to leave, he has every right to protect himself. He trusted her, albeit when he shouldn’t have, but the fact is that HE DID. And she betrayed that trust. So accept the consequences and stop trying to have a pity party.
And what’s this about nobody looking at her broken-hearted wandering? Why. Should. Anyone. Care? I don’t care, and I know the whole story behind the mess. What do you want, for everyone to pat your back and tell you sorry??
Being on the street was worse this time because of everything she’d almost had. Sophia had felt as though she’d been on the verge of everything she could have wanted: a safe life with a man she loved and who seemed to love her back; a place among the wealthiest nobles of the realm; acceptance as something more than just an orphan, suitable only for indenture as whatever the ones who purchased her debt chose.
a throne for sisters (pg. 150)
Yup, a safe life, except you’d have to be paranoid about someone seeing that mark on your leg 100% of the time. Totally a safe life. And girl, if you think that marrying the prince is going to get you acceptance, then you’re even more of a fool than I thought. You’re going to become enemy number 1 to every lady in that Court who had plans to marry the prince, or who planned for her daughter to marry the prince. Acceptance, pfft.
Could she have done anything differently?
a throne for sisters (pg. 151)
Oh I don’t know, you could have maybe tried to stay levelheaded instead of drowning in instalove, maybe created a better plan, maybe worked on limiting the number of lies and not rushing headlong into marriage with some one you claim to love but plan on being deceitful to for the rest of time?
Maybe swallowed your dream of court and gone with your sister to keep her safe?
I mean, I don’t know, obviously I’m just the cruel heartless unknowing reader so what could I know about the heartache of love and court.
But you know, just a thought anyway.
Younger Sister Kate, 15 yro
Now that Sophia’s spectacular storyline has reached most of its end (all else that happens with her is that the orphanage catches her as she’s wandering), let’s shift gears and look at Kate.
I didn’t actually have many strong feelings when it came to Kate because unlike her older sister, she didn’t make any incredibly terrible decisions.
Kate’s original plan was to run away to the country and learn how to fight and survive on her own. From the very start, she’s portrayed as a rather violent person who is bent on revenge against anyone who has hurt her or her sister. This starts with the boy who attacked Sophia at the start, and then with the nun that tries to stop them from escaping. Kate repeatedly strikes her across the back with a poker and is almost like in a trance until Sophia snaps her out of it and they run away.
From the start, I was super wary and honestly shocked by Kate’s level of anger and hatred. I was also thinking that maybe the rage that overcomes her has something to do with her powers, like maybe it’s a state of mind or something that she unconsciously slips into.
Either way, she’s already made it well-known that she’s the sister that one shouldn’t mess with.
To achieve her dream of making it in the countryside, she needs weapons and tools so she starts trying to steal to get what she needs. She’s not always successful, but her telepathy has also become rather reliable and is helping her avoid being caught for the most part.
She tries to talk to a recruiter for one of the mercenary companies that participates in the wars across the sea. When he realizes she’s a girl, he shoos her away, even though she says she can fight. So that’s a bust.
The boys that she beat at the start of the story find her while she’s wandering and attempt to haul her back to the orphanage, but she manages to escape with the help of a girl named Emeline who apparently can read and transmit thoughts too. They end up on a boat headed upriver.
This made me super curious about how this telepathy thing worked, and we get to learn a little bit more as Emeline talks about a place called Stonehome for people like them who can read thoughts. Kate hasn’t heard of it before and is duly skeptical (if only Sophia and Sebastian had her wariness) but Emeline isn’t sure. She’s just trying to make it there in hopes that it indeed exists.
An important part of this exchange is that Kate at one point tries to read Emeline’s mind, but can’t, and Emeline calls her out for doing so. Kate apologizes, and things move forward, but this is major to me having read the book and seen Sophia just use her power to invade people’s privacy left and right with no sense of guilt that she’s breaking so many moral and ethical laws. I think she did feel guilty a few times with Sebastian, but that didn’t stop her from reading his mind anyway.
And even though this is still not really addressed in Kate and Emeline’s exchange beyond a reprimand and sorry, it was still a huge “thankfully someone has finally addressed this even though it was barely anything!” moment for me.
Fast forward a bit, Emeline and Kate are thrown off the boat for being “witches” and Kate manages to swim to the bank of the river. She frantically tries to call for Emeline, but Emeline never responds, and eventually Kate has to leave. It was really sad that Emeline was…possibly killed off right then for seemingly no reason.
Kate goes back to town, finds a stable where she gets warm after her unwanted bath, and then proceeds to steal a horse from the stable. She runs away with it, and then stops at a blacksmith shop and attempts to steal some tools and weapons from there but is caught by the blacksmith.
Thus begins her apprenticeship with the blacksmith, who decides to offer her food and a place to sleep in exchange for working with him. He knows that she can read minds and offers a little bit more insight into the worldbuilding by sharing that he knew a boy who could do the same, and how masked priests began giving sermons against these mind readers.
So mind readers in Sophia and Kate’s world are considered evil/cursed. I’d guessed as much, but getting that confirmation definitely helped.
Kate starts working for the blacksmith, and eventually develops a crush on his son (not instalove!! sophia really needs to learn a thing or two from her sister) who happens to be a member of a mercenary company like the one she’d attempted to join. She convinces him to take her for a visit, and gets herself into a tournament to prove that she’s just as good as men, but ends up getting beaten quite thoroughly. This makes her obsessed with becoming stronger and more skilled so that she isn’t so weak and helpless.
Up until this point, I’d thought that Kate was a little blunt and a little too obsessed with revenge and using pain as a solution. I also felt like she was young, like just reading her chapters kept reminding me that she’s only fifteen and hasn’t really had a lot of positive things happen to her in life. She kind of acted like I’d expect an abused child who’s fighting hard to survive to act.
At the same time, she was a bland and one dimensional character. There just wasn’t much depth to her, to any of the characters in the book really. It also didn’t help that the book was written in third person, so I couldn’t directly experience what the characters did. So, I felt detached from her even though I did want her to succeed.
Eventually she learns about this so called magic fountain that can make someone into a great warrior and she’s determined to find it. Interestingly, she does and meets this mysterious woman called Siobhan who seems to be possibly not human. At the very least, we know she’s extremely powerful and can inflict memories on others.
She offers Kate a deal where “her kind” could somehow help Kate.
Of course, Siobhan wants two things in return: an aprenticeship from Kate and a favor to be called in at any time.
Friends, if a mysterious woman (who has proved to be rather powerful) that you find at a supposedly magic mountain offers to give you all your dreams, in exchange for anything, I’d highly suggest you turn tail and run. Run like there’s no tomorrow, like the devil is chasing you.
If any of you have read fantasy, I’m sure you’ve come across an eerie person (who is possibly not human) like this and the main character makes the deal, and then everything falls to pieces because they had no idea what they were getting themselves into and the deal was twisted to suit the person’s needs and not the MC’s.
No matter how innocent their request is, I wouldn’t trust it in the slightest. Just no, I don’t care if they want you to just breathe, if they have to ask you to do something for them, then you really really really should not do it and you need to run away before you become tempted.
As I’ve said, I was okay with Kate, and I really wanted her to not make such a foolish decision. Surprisingly, she actually walks away, and I was actually quite shocked that she did. if it had been sophia, she probably totally would have said yes and even promised her first-born child as well
On Kate’s way back, the boy that tried to catch her earlier finds her, and in desperation, Kate ends up killing him. Now that she’s murdered someone, she knows she can’t go back to the blacksmith without jeopardizing his family.
So she returns to our lovely friend Siobhan and agrees to the deal.
Sigh. All the right things happened in this book y’all. All the right things.
The Worldbuilding in General
My biggest issue with the world was that I didn’t know anything about anything. The reason behind the wars wasn’t really explained, the geography of the country/state that Ashton is in is not explained, the role of the dowager, external politics, etc, nothing was explained.
All of these amazing adventures took place in a city called Ashton, but I have no idea how Ashton relates to the rest of the country that it’s presumably a part of. Is it the capital? Is it just a major city? What other cities are there? What are the people like? And this Knifes-Water sea that’s keeping the war on the Merchant States (I believe), is it actually going to last? What are the people from the Merchant States like? Where are the refugees from the war? If seeing Sophia of “Meinhalt” is not a shock to many, then how come there was no mention of refugees?
Is this supposed to be somewhat based on Medieval Europe? Are there other places beyond the Merchant States and Ashton’s country? Is Ashton actually a state? What do the people believe in? Any holidays? Are there a lot of people like Sophia, Kate, and Emeline that can read minds? Are there other powers besides? Who were these masked priests?
What happened to Sophia and Kate’s family? This is mentioned multiple times. Apparently Kate was too young to remember what led to Sophia and Kate having to flee their home when she was really young, and Sophia refuses to talk about it, so we never get a solid answer to that.
There are just so many questions that I have for this world and the plot with Kate and Siobhan. Obviously there is something more to it than just having the weird ability to read minds, but nothing. is. explored.
For the first book in a series, it’s done a pretty good job at making sure we know zilch about the world that this is supposed to take place in. About everything there is to know really. Besides of course Sophia’s epic romance and subsequent heartbreak, and Kate’s quest for strength and adventure.
And even that, that one simple thing wasn’t done well.
We. Are. Done!
This post is going to surpass 8000 words. We’re already at 7,955 and writing 45 more words is much too easy.
I don’t think I have to say that I truly did not like this book. This post speaks for itself. I just hope that from my frustration, I wrote a post that you at least enjoyed reading.
I still can’t believe I wrote so much, I haven’t even written an essay for school that was this long. And I’m so disappointed that I can’t somehow use this post to gain credit for class. Alas.
Nonetheless, I’ve been told that the next few books in the series might be a little bit better so maybe the rest of the series can actually be a hidden gem? I just have to overlook how much the first book failed in my opinion. But my friend who did read the series didn’t even finish and gave up after the 4th book or so, so I really don’t think it’s going to be worth my while to continue.
Also, the synopsis for the next book starts like this:
In A COURT FOR THIEVES (A Throne for Sisters—Book Two), Sophia, 17, finds her world upside down as she is cast from the romantic world of aristocracy and back to the horrors of the orphanage. This time the nuns seem intent on killing her. Yet that doesn’t pain her as much as her broken heart. Will Sebastian realize his mistake and come back for her?
My reaction: If he does, he’s an utter fool and I disown him immediately. Never mind the fact that he’s not my family to disown.
So yeah, I think I’ll be avoiding these books for the time being.
Some questions for you:
- Have you read A Throne for Sisters? What did you think?
- What’s the worst case of instalove that you’ve read? Has there ever been a best case?
- Did you like this review format and the quotes that are images? Any part of the review that you liked the most?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!