Book Review: Sisters of the Snake by Sarena and Sasha Nanua

“Fireworks light in the distance, the signal is a reminder: back home, I am a prisoner. Here, I’m overflowing with everything I never thought I would feel. Because in this moment, I am not Rani. I am free.”

Anyone who knows me know I love a fantasy book with a bit of royal drama, and this one really delivered.

Rani and Ria are twins who were separated at birth and have lived very different lives. They had very different upbringings; Ria was raised in poverty and has found herself on the Raja’s subscription list for the upcoming war, whilst Rani has lived her life as a spoiled princess whose only job was to marry well for her people. Both feel trapped and angry for different reasons. The two characters have very distinct voices, which makes for a brilliant dual narrative.

Ria is nostalgic for her life before, with Mama Anita, and breaks into the palace to steal something which will buy her an escape. It is there that she is mistaken for Rani. There is a lot of confusion at first (neither girl knows they have a sister), which I loved. I’m a big fan of a well-written mistaken identity plot, and this one was brilliant. It takes the twins a while to catch on. I found it odd that they quickly adapted to each other and opened up to each other when they met; I certainly would have been a lot more guarded, but they both are so desperate for change that it makes sense for them and their story. The switch gives Ria safety from conscription, and Rani the chance to experience freedom outside the palace.

They are both utterly unprepared for living each others’ lives. It is so messy and chaotic and there’s a constant fear they’re going to get caught out. I loved seeing how the other characters reacted to the changes, especially Amir who noticed immediately that something wasn’t right with his friend, but doesn’t expect she is a completely different person. Amir and Ria’s growing friendship was one of my favourite parts – he teaches her a lot about what life is like for her people and what her life could be like. Ria learns that the privilege her sister has grown up with isn’t all it seems from the outside. She also learns more about the snake magic her family have and the mystery that led to her and her sister being separated and her family not recognising her.

I loved the mystery of this, the snake magic, the twists, and the way that everything was resolved. There is never a dull moment in this book; it’s a great story and I am looking forward to more!

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