Review and photo by Stacie Eirich ~ originally on Space to Dream.
Thanks to the @kidlitexchange network for the review copy of this book – all opinions are my own.
The Forgotten Sister by Dalila Caryn
Createspace Independent Publishing Platform ~ July 24th 2016
The Forgotten Sister, by Dalila Caryn, a YA fantasy, is a fairy tale retelling with strong characters and a story that will immerse readers from start to finish. A retelling of the classic tale Sleeping Beauty; in this version she is Roisin, the younger half-sister of Rowan. Cursed by her grandmother, the Fairy Queen, princess Roisin is sent away from the palace to live with her fairy Aunts in a hidden, magical wood. Though she is only a child herself, Rowan vows to become a knight and protect Roisin, pledging her love, loyalty, and even a gift of eternal life (given from her own half-fairy blood) to her.
The bulk of this story focuses on not on Roisin, who grows in beauty and grace but remains hidden – but on Rowan and her life as she endures years of separation from her sister at the castle. The kingdom awaits Roisin’s 16th birthday and her return. But they and the kingdoms around them are plagued by the dark magic of Sorcha, the Fairy Queen – and Rowan believes the only way to stop Sorcha is to fight her herself. But her training with the Knights of the Rose doesn’t stop her nightly dreams that it is she – not Sorcha – that will be the one to bring death upon her sister.
As the day of her sister’s return draws nearer, Rowan knows she must make decisions that will help not only her sister but also her kingdom (as its future Queen) and others. She befriends a prince of a distant kingdom, Gavin, through letters, and their correspondence quickly becomes one of the strongest friendships of the novel. Undoubtedly the most poignant relationship in the novel is between Rowan and Roisin; the love they feel as sisters when they are young, and the friendship they feel each year when they meet secretly in the Fairy Circle is beautifully written. But it is the intriguing connection between Rowan and her Fairy Queen grandmother Sorcha that is the greatest mystery and powerful undercurrent of the novel. Readers will be drawn to Rowan as a strong female heroine and her fierce love and loyalty for her family and friends.
The Forgotten Sister may be a fairy tale retelling, but it is also a rich fantasy with unique plot twists that allow it to stand on its own. The Sleeping Beauty has been my favorite fairy tale since I was a child, and as such I have been hesitant to read retellings of it. But this tale did not disappoint me, instead captured and held me from the moment I began reading. Caryn has crafted a beautiful coming-of-age fantasy that will reach into the hearts of many young readers, reminding them of the strength of knowing one’s self and the powerful, healing magic love can bring.
Stacie Eirich is a writer, as well as an avid reader & book reviewer. She holds a Masters Degree in English Studies from Illinois State University. She has published four books of poetry and a children’s novel: Tiger Kingdom & The Book of Destiny. She lives north of New Orleans, and is currently writing her second children’s novel.