Liviania’s review of Sisters of Blood and Spirit (Sisters of Blood and Spirit, Book 1) by Kady Cross
YA Paranormal published by Harlequin Teen 31 Mar 15
Wren and Lark Noble are identical twins, although anyone who sees them can instantly tell them apart due to Wren’s red hair and pale skin. Of course, most people only see Lark because Wren was stillborn and only exists as a ghost. Throughout their lives so far, Lark has struggled with seeing things no one else can and other people trying to convince her that she’s crazy. It led to a suicide attempt and a stay in a mental hospital. But now several classmates have come to her for help. They were messing around in the cemetery (and cutting through an abandoned mental hospital), and something attacked them. Included in the group asking for help is Kevin, a medium with a crush on Wren; Mace, the boy who managed to get her medical attention in time; Sarah, Mace’s jealous girlfriend; and Ben, who Lark thinks is cute. There’s also Gage and Roxi, because Sisters of Blood and Spirit has an abundance of characters.
Sisters of Blood and Spirit embraces the creepiness of the premise. Wren is very much not human. It’s not just that she has ghostly powers (which aren’t entirely defined), but also that when she gets angry, she starts to haunt the area she’s in. Temperatures plummet; objects start flying. She’s dangerous. Lark has her own abilities due to being the twin of a Dead-Born and coming so close to death herself. She can see and touch ghosts, which makes it easier for her to fight them. And, unlike mediums, she’s not permanently open to possession. The evil ghost marked each of the twins’ classmates, so he can feed on them and possess them. Even the girls’ allies can be enemies, unknowingly. Kady Cross does a good job of making the basics of her mythology clear while hinting at developments to come in future books in the series.
I enjoyed the focus on the sisters’ relationship. Lark’s suicide attempt shook up the balance between them. Wren would enjoy being with her sister, but she doesn’t want her to die. It also led to her meeting Kevin, who is the first person Wren has wanted to pursue a relationship with outside of her sister. Lark hasn’t been much for making other friends either, mostly because of the bullying she faced. But as she gets to know Ben, she starts to realize there were people who wanted to be her friend all along but who couldn’t get past her defenses. I like her prickliness, but it isn’t always the best strategy for moving through life. Their relationship is very cute, and I love the way their shared attraction develops through the time they spend with each other while hunting a vengeful ghost. The relationships are pretty simple in Sisters of Blood and Spirit, as everyone in the group pairs off neatly, but the ending makes it clear that there’s lots of romantic drama to come.
I think a few of the characters (Roxi and Gage mostly) could’ve been cut in order to develop the kids at risk as much as the sisters. Lark and Wren both let them know that they’ll save each other first. It’s a reasonable position, and I had trouble worrying about the teens in trouble sometimes since they were mostly archetypes who got into trouble through their own actions. That doesn’t mean there aren’t several tense, scary action scenes. Cross does an excellent job of ratcheting up the tension when needed, particularly when it comes to revealing the bad guy is a few steps ahead all along. Plus, a ghost that can step into you like a skin suit is ripe for horror.
Sisters of Blood and Spirit is an enticing beginning to a YA paranormal series. It has a nice blend of horror and romance, and the themes of family and friendship have broad appeal. The plot of this particular book is concluded, but there are lots of strings left open for sequels, which might frustrate some readers. References to Lark’s and Wren’s styling sometimes make me laugh, because they’re classically teenage edgy Goth. It’s cute. Sisters of Blood and Spirit isn’t a serious novel, so you have to laugh at some of the more YA touches. But it is fun, with just the right amount of scary for me.
Wren Noble is dead—she was born that way. Vibrant, unlike other dead things, she craves those rare moments when her twin sister allows her to step inside her body and experience the world of the living.
Lark Noble is alive but often feels she belongs in the muted Shadow Lands—the realm of the dead. Known as the crazy girl who talks to her dead sister, she doesn’t exactly fit in with the living, though a recent suicide attempt and time in a psych ward have proved to her she’s not ready to join her sister in the afterlife.
Now the guy who saved Lark’s life needs her to repay the favor. He and his friends have been marked for death by the malevolent spirit of a vicious and long-dead serial killer, and the twins—who should know better than to mess with the dead—may be their only hope of staying alive.
Read an excerpt here.