I saw numerous positive reviews of The Sisters Mederos somewhere, maybe Goodreads, so decided to try it out. On the one hand, it’s a good look at the relationship between two sisters and the rest of their family, once wealthy and respected merchants but not since the parents are accused of some vague sort of business fraud and socially and financially ruined by the Guild. Sister 1, Vivienne is the smart generally viewed as competent elder daughter, while sister 2 Tesara is the younger generally considered useless younger daughter who may or may not have some vague magical ability. Navigating the chances in their social and monetary fortunes makes for an interesting watch and provides opportunity for character growth. So far, so good, especially since while are the suggestions of potential romance for one sister, the love story remains in the background, and never amounts to much within the rest of the narrative. For this, I say, bless you, Patrice Smith for not engaging in the most annoying plot distraction/ruiner pet-peeve of mine.
The problems start with the fact that the world of the story is very much underdeveloped. I get that this is the story about Tesara and Vivienne as characters, but given that their character growth depends upon some factors of their world, like the existence of magic and the revelation of what really happened with their parents’ downfall via the Guild, there needs to be some basis and background for the events to have meaning, and there is none. It also brings the apparent general classification of the novel as ‘fantasy’ harder to justify.
Problem two is that as the story progresses, it becomes more and more about Tesara and from her perspective, and much less about Vivienne. Even though Tesara may be the more immature and subject to more mystery and need of self-understanding, leaving out a lot of Vivienne eventually results in uneven storytelling. Both girls engage in danger to get to the bottom of the downfall of their parents in order to restore the family name and their place in society, but Vivienne’s part which is the more exciting in some ways gets less detail, which is sad because she could be as complex and interesting a character as her sister, but never gets the chance.
The last things that bothered me was how neither sister ever really gets over her social superiority complex, While it makes sense that you would want to get back to the high position you used to have, I would have wished that the sisters learned something about the people of the lower class who they are grouped with and looked down on with by nearly all their former friends.
As a result of the above problems, it took me a while to get through the middle section of the book. The first part was interesting in learning about the characters and situations, and the final part with the last grand escapades and redemption made for a good fun adventure, but the middle suffered.
I think what bothered me most is that there is a distinct Pirates of the Caribbean vibe in a good way, but there wasn’t enough detail to really make the most of that potential. I would have loved a largely female Pirates movie, even if it was a book.