Sisters of the Perilous Heart follows two very different girls on the colonized planet Kepler. One is the newly crowned Queen Vivian, a telekinetic and fire mage, who has to escape Assassins trying to murder her. The other one is Carina, an orphaned girl living with her sister at a convent, trying to hide her fluctuating telekinetic abilities. Both their lives are threatened by the Immortal Ones, humans who have an unending lifespan, but eyes that turn red and other kinds of more serious problems.
The book was self-published 2018 as Sassafras and the Queen, but was re-released 2020 by Mortal Ink Press. I received an ARC on Netgalley and Booksirens in exchange for an honest review.
I would categorize this book as science-fantasy YA, because science-fantasy is about the only description which fits the setting. The world has burgers, jeans and mascara, but people live in almost medieval villages without any technology. There is magic, but there is also genetic engineering, spaceflight and robots.
I think science-fantasy settings are very intriguing and terribly hard to pull off. Sandra L. Vasher did not succeed with this. The whole universe is not designed very carefully, it reads more like it was changed as the author saw fit to change the story. I really stumbled at the mention of contemporary designer brands like Prada, Gabbana and Levi’s, that did not fit at all.
The chapters are split between Vivian and Carina, with the occasional diary of an Immortal or a textbook excerpt scattered in between. I liked the writing style, even if I did not like much else. The first part of the story is mainly motivated by cliches, while the later part of the story builds on misunderstandings, with no character progression in between. The plot “twists” and “reveals” can be seen miles away, I doubt anyone will be surprised, especially since there are so many hints dropped.
There are also some really dumb scenes, for example a piece of underwear falls out of a backpack directly in front of a male love interest.
The characters start as walking cliches and idiots, and mostly stay that way. Yes, they are teens, but, as always, teens that are described as bright enough to study chemistry at university level should learn from their mistakes and avoid them in future. I think that Sandra L. Vasher has a talent for showing the reader the emotions of the characters, but I think there is still some way to go in terms of individuality and character development.
Overall, I will rate this book with 2.49/5 stars, which will result in a Goodreads rating of 2. There are some very decent bits hiding in the book, and the potential is there. The author just has to decide to use it, detach from YA cliches and focus on realistic character development. The cherry on top would be a slightly more ordered worldbuilding.