Every reader knows that terrible moment - the moment a book grabs your attention as it sits on the shelf, you pull it down into your loving grasp only to discover the scandalous truth - it's the second (or even more subsequent, although those usually provide more warnings on the cover) in a series!
This happened recently at the library, where Guardian of the Gate beckoned me over to the new book display in YA, all mysterious and Gothic. It wasn't until I had it home that I realized my error! I managed to snag the first book the next day, luckily. So for your Tuesday pleasure, I present a double review of Prophecy of the Sisters and Guardian of the Gate by Michelle Zink!
Title(s): Prophecy of the Sisters & Guardian of the Gate
Author: Michelle Zink
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (August 1, 2009) & (August 1, 2010)
Summary: An ancient prophecy divides two sisters-
Who will prevail?
Twin sisters Lia and Alice Milthorpe have just become orphans. They have also become enemies. As they discover their roles in a prophecy that has turned generations of sisters against each other, the girls find themselves entangled in a mystery that involves a tattoo-like mark, their parents' deaths, a boy, a book, and a lifetime of secrets.
Lia and Alice don't know whom they can trust.
They just know they can't trust each other.
First Impressions: Mmm, tasty tasty Gothic drama. The setting, mood and slow reveal really made me enjoy the first book in this trilogy even more than I was expected. Twins divided, one good and one evil. A mysterious book hidden by a recently deceased father. An inexplicable mark appearing on one twin. I found the plot of this book to be wonderfully original and well thought out.
The second book, I didn't enjoy quite as much. Whether it is middle-book-itis or a more serious problem I won't know until the final book is released in August of 2011. You can bet I'll be reading it, though.
Plot: The plot is definitely the strong point of these Gothic supernatural adventures. When Lia and Alice are orphaned at the age of 16, Lia quickly finds herself - and her sister - embroiled in an ancient prophecy centered around a pair of twins, which threatens to shake her world to its core. Neither book is action-packed, but Zink manages to keep the reader turning pages quickly in order to find out the secrets held within. The first book was wonderfully paced and while the second had some meandering points, the plot was still moving beneath the surface and I remain engrossed in the epic battle between Guardian and Gate.
Style: Michelle Zink does a wonderful job creating tension in every word of Prophecy of the Sisters and the Gothic tone really draws in the reader. If you are not a fan of books in historical time periods it may be a barrier for you, but I would still give it a chance to see if she can grab your attention.
Characters: Well, this is the one point that did bother me a bit with these books. The relationships are not very strongly depicted, and leave some of the excellent plot points feeling a little hollow because you know there should be a greater emotional punch behind them. I did not find either friendships or romantic entanglements that made me believe in them fully.
Wrap up: This was a difficult review! Both books left me intrigued and eager to learn more about Lia's quest, but the lack of emotional resonance between characters hurt my overall impression of the books. I still really liked them and would recommend them to readers at the library, especially if they like Gothic mysteries or supernatural thrillers.
Rating(s): Prophecy of the Sisters: 8/10
Guardian of the Gate: 6/10