Rebecca Ross’ latest release, SISTERS OF SWORD AND SONG, is a YA Fantasy adventure that sounds absolutely thrilling! Keep reading to find out more about the book and the author, read an excerpt along with my mini review and a fun guest post by the author! And don’t forget to enter the exciting giveaway! (click the banner to follow the tour!)
From the author of The Queen’s Rising comes a thrilling YA stand-alone fantasy about the unbreakable bond between sisters. Perfect for fans of Ember in the Ashes, Sky in the Deep, and Court of Fives.
After eight long years, Evadne will finally be reunited with her older sister, Halcyon, who has been proudly serving in the queen’s army. But when Halcyon appears earlier than expected, Eva knows something has gone terribly wrong. Halcyon is on the run, hunted by her commander and charged with murder.
Though Halcyon’s life is spared during her trial, the punishment is heavy. And when Eva volunteers to serve part of Halcyon’s sentence, she’s determined to find out exactly what happened. But as Eva begins her sentence, she quickly learns that there are fates much worse than death.
CHAPTER 1: Evadne
Evadne stood beneath the olive tree watching Maia climb with a knife clenched in her teeth. The sun was setting, but the breeze was warm, sighing from the west, where the Origenes Sea churned just beyond the grove. It would storm by evening; Evadne could sense it coming on the wind. And then tomorrow would arrive, the day her family had been anticipating for eight long years.
One more sleep until I see her, Evadne thought, hardly remembering why she was standing in the grove until she heard Maia slip and catch herself on a limb. The tree shuddered in protest although Maia was the smallest out of their family, hardly reaching Evadne’s shoulder in height. She had insisted she be the one to climb.
“Can anyone see us?” Maia asked once she had regained her balance, her words blurred by the blade still held by her teeth.
Evadne glanced around the grove. They were at the thick heart of it; the grass was spangled with light, and the branches rustled with the breeze. She could hear sounds of the villa—voices and laughter—echoing in the distance. Both of their fathers should be together, working at the oil press on the far side of the property.
“We are alone, Maia.”
Maia cut the branch and let it drop to the ground, right at Evadne’s feet. She cut another, her knife ticking against the bark.
“Do you think your father will know, Eva?”
“That we cut from the god tree?” Evadne gathered the greenand-silver leaves, staring up as Maia balanced on its warped limbs. She imagined a god tumbling through such branches, breaking his wings, and said, “Well, if my father realizes it, I will simply tell him it was all for Halcyon, and what can he say to that?”
Maia swiftly traded one worry for another. “Do you think Halcyon will recognize me tomorrow?”
“You are her cousin. Of course she will recognize you.” But despite her confidence, Evadne had gnawed on this same worry for days. She had not seen Halcyon for eight years.
Evadne remembered the morning Halcyon had departed, had traced it so many times in her memory that she often dreamt about it at night. Evadne, nine years old, propped on a crutch, her ankle bandaged as she stood in the courtyard. Halcyon, twelve years old, hair bound back in braids, her belongings packed in a satchel, waiting to ride with their father to the city of Abacus.
“Don’t go, don’t go.” Evadne had wept, clinging to her sister.
But Halcyon had smiled and said, “I must, Eva. The gods will it.”
“Do not tell her this,” Maia said, shifting to another branch, “but I was once jealous of your sister.”
“So was I,” Evadne confessed and with a shock discovered that the flame was still there, burning within her. So am I, her mind amended. I am jealous of Halcyon, although I do not want to be.
Maia stopped cutting to look at her, and for a moment, Evadne feared she had spoken her secret aloud.
“Do not mistake me,” Maia rushed to say. “I was relieved someone in our family finally inherited something good. Halcyon deserved to make a name for herself. But . . . I do wish you and I could have something, too.”
“Yes,” Evadne agreed.
She and Maia were like the other members in their family. Void of magic, all because of their ancestor, a disgraced god who had fallen into this very olive tree centuries ago to break his wings. Or so the legend stated. That was why Evadne’s father disliked anyone touching it, or climbing it, or harvesting from it. The tree had been the end of Kirkos, god of the wind. But it had also been a beginning. The beginning of this grove, of their family.
“Why would a god be so foolish?” Evadne had often ranted to her mother when they worked at the loom. “He had everything. Why give it all up?”
Truly, her anger stemmed from the fact that she was magicless and common and bound to live the same dull life every day until she returned to the dust. All because of Kirkos’s choice to fall.
And her mother would only smile, a gentle but shrewd smile. “One day you will understand, Eva.”
…Buy the book to read what happens next!
I added this YA Fantasy standalone to my TBR the moment I discovered it and was so thrilled to receive an eARC to review! Beautifully written, dynamic characters, a world inspired by Ancient Greek Mythology, and a plot that twists and turns in and out of the shadows as you chase it page after page, Sisters of Sword and Song will grip you by the throat and heart so filled with enthralling stakes and depths of love. Certainly a solid addition to the genre and a definite recommendation to fans of mythology, magic, fantasy, and adventure!
The Guest Post
Post Prompt #1: “Playlist”
Choose a song for each main character as well as one for the overall story and provide brief notes for why you chose those songs!
- Evadne: “Bird” by Billie Marten. This song is full of longing and I love the imagery of water and flight, which are influences in Evadne’s journey of self-discovery as she learns who she is apart from her sister.
- Halcyon: “The Unforgiven” by Metallica. The conflict and regret that simmers beneath this ballad reminds me a lot of Halcyon’s own feelings and journey, and how she has to eventually come to a reckoning with them.
- Damon: “Mykonos” by Fleet Foxes. The call to “brother” in this song makes me think of Damon so much, and what he has lost and how he has to continue onward, even in his grief and his feelings of inadequacy.
- For the overall story: “Rejoice and Lament” by Josh Garrels. I love the juxtaposition in this song—the joy and the sadness, the triumph and struggle—and how it reads like poetry. This line in particular leaves a mark on me, and I love how it alludes to Icarus: “I said Father the feathers of my wax wings / Fall away by the rising of the sun / And I have descended when I was undone / And I will ascend when your Spirit comes.”
Post Prompt #2: “Trivia”
List 10 fun or interesting facts about yourself and/or your book!
- I’m the oldest of six kids. I have two younger sisters and three younger brothers.
- I love dogs, and have an Australian Shepherd named Sierra.
- I’ve always wanted to be an author. It’s a dream I’ve had ever since I can remember.
- I’m a Libra, an INFJ, and a 4w5 on the Enneagram Personality Test.
- I love collecting things like old postage stamps and curiosities.
- Sisters of Sword & Song was created when I brought two different story ideas together. I had an idea for a mage and scribe story. And I had an idea for a sister story, where the younger sister volunteers to take half of her sister’s punishment for a crime. Both ideas on their own were not strong enough to carry the weight of a full story and kept fizzling out every time I attempted to write them. But when I finally brought them together…the two sparked and caught fire, and that’s how this book was made.
- It took me just under 2 months to draft the entire book.
- I write by the seat of my pants, and rarely plan things out. Which means I love the thrill of discovery while drafting, and have a lot of scenes to rewrite when it comes to revising.
- I love listening to music when I write, and I create playlists for all of my books. I tend to prefer soundtracks and instrumental music.
- I enjoy DIY projects, hand lettering, and gardening.
Post Prompt #3: “Process”
How was the idea/writing process for Sisters of Shadow and Song? Were there any scenes, characters, or moments you ended up having to cut? Share up to 5!
Sisters of Sword & Song was originally written in Evadne’s first-person narration only. Halcyon’s POV was woven into the story later, when my editor made the suggestion to include her perspective. But I also knew that I did not want to write another dual narrative (as I had just done that with The Queen’s Resistance) and I felt like the story would work best if I shifted everything into 3rd person.
It made for a lot of re-writing! And I actually did not bring all nine of the Divine’s relics into the narrative until I was halfway through my 3rd person re-write, and I felt like I was missing something. Likewise, there were quite a few ideas and scenes that I had to cut, including one that originally had the world in Sisters divided by courts. Evadne joined the court of mages and scribes in the story, and the mages had to cast an important vote that was rigged by Selene. It’s funny when I think back on that version, and it’s a good illustration to remind me that it’s okay to throw ideas down in the first few drafts, even if they get cut later on. Because they help you discover the true bones of the story.
Win a copy of SISTERS OF SWORD AND SONG by Rebecca Ross + 4 myth cards (The Fall of Kirkos, Ari’s Shawl of Stars, The Entrapment of Pyrrhus, and Acantha’s Crown) [US Only]
Starts: June 17th 2020
Ends: July 1st 2020
Rebecca Ross grew up in Georgia, where she continues to reside with her husband, lively dog and endless piles of books. She received her bachelor’s degree in English from UGA. In the past she has worked at a Colorado dude ranch, as a school librarian, and as a live-time captionist for a college.