“Fairy tales are full of girls who wait, who endure, who suffer. Good girls. Obedient girls. Girls who crush nettles until their hands bleed. Girls who haul water for witches. Girls who wander through deserts or sleep in ashes or make homes for transformed brothers in the woods. Girls without hands, without eyes, without the power of speech, without any power at all. But then a prince rides up and sees the girl and finds her beautiful. Beautiful, not despite her suffering, but because of it.”
No one weaves words and magic like Holly Black. No one. And I don’t even have words to express how amazing it feels to be back in this world. Not only did it make me appreciate The Cruel Prince more, it also made me emotional because of all the foreshadowing for The Wicked King. This is a pivotal short story that completely immersed me, captivated me, and reinforced that this is my favorite series of all-time.
It was so smart to format this story in a letter, that Taryn is writing to Jude, but in second person. It is eerie, and haunting, and it makes the reading experience feels so much more intimate, real, and unforgettable. Every time I open a Holly Black book, I feel like I’ve stepped right into the realm of fae, and this short story was no different.
“Faeries despise humans as liars, but there are different kinds of lying. Since you and I first came to Faerie, Jude, we’ve lied to each other plenty.”
The Lost Sisters allows you to see small glimpses into important scenes of The Cruel Prince, but we get to see it all unfold from Taryn’s point of view. I see a lot of reviews say that it made them sympathize with her, but it made me feel worse for Jude. This isn’t a redemption arc. This isn’t a happy ending. This isn’t what you’re expecting. This is just an honest look at Taryn’s feelings; and if I’m being honest, they are still really selfish.
“It’s terrible to be a girl trapped in a story. But you can be more than that. You can be the teller. You can shape the story. You can make all of Faerie love you.”
But Taryn really is trying to carve out her own place in a world that she never asked to live in. Vivi, Jude, and Taryn didn’t ask to lose their mother, be ripped from their home, and forced to live among people who will never make them feel like they belong. But all three girls feel and handle things very differently. Vivi feels sadness and wishes to escape. Jude feels angry and wishes for revenge. Taryn feels inadequacy and wishes for love. And all of these things are valid, and none of things are lesser, they are just different.
“His hair was bright in the moonlight, his face as handsome as heartbreak.”
But this book also really shines a spotlight on Locke. And he truly is the gaslighting, manipulative, abusive, royal jerk. This book really shows how easy it for abusive people to be manipulative. How they can twist everything to make it feel like it is all your fault. How they can make you crave their attention. How easy it is to feel like you’re being loved, not abused.
Honestly, the most interesting element of this book for me was the introduction of Edir, and the entire secret party and all the attendees. Again, it really reinforced (to me) that Locke is totally going to end up being the big bad of this entire story. Also, I just have a really soft spot in my heart for bard-like characters. And sometimes we really do need to listen to the songs of the mothers and women that came before us, to know how worthy of a new song we all really are.
“But that night, a pebble struck my window and I saw the shape of a boy standing below, smiling up at me as though he already knew all my secrets.”
My favorite part of the book? A whisper from Cardan. God, I’m so soft and weak and on brand. It’s really pathetic at this point. Seeing Cardan in this book was hard at first, really hard, I’m not going to lie, but seeing how far he’s come? How far him and Jude have both come? Lord, help me. It is almost funny to see them interact in this short story, knowing the storm that awaits them in The Wicked King.
Overall, I loved this. I really was expecting to feel differently after turning that last page, but this was still such an atmospheric ride that I truly never wanted to end. This series, this world, these characters, everything is just a tier above the rest. This is the series of my heart and soul. And Holly Black never ceases to amaze me. I stan one fae queen, and it is her. It will always be her.
“Let’s start with a love story. Or maybe it’s another horror story. It seems like the difference is mostly in where the ending comes.”
Content and trigger warnings for murder, death, self-harm, bullying, and grey area cheating.