Fourth Sister: A Book Review

Shisei and death go hand in hand. Mother knew it when she named her. But Shisei can’t let anyone else she loves die in Fourth Sister by M.L. Farb.

Whitney Awards nominee and fantasy author M.L. Farb releases her latest Hearth and Bard Tales book, Fourth Sister, February 10th. The story, set in ancient Japan, brings new characters to life for you to love.

My Thoughts on Fourth Sister

What would you do if your two brothers died at birth and one was your twin? What if your eldest sister sent you away, claiming you were cursed to bring death? Would you return home? Would you do whatever it took to win your family back?

These are the dilemmas the main character of Fourth Sister, Shisei, has to work through. How fitting that she apprentices herself to the mask maker–also an outcast. In fact, as I read the story, I followed many threads connecting her to her sensei, who teaches much more than crafting masks.

As a fairytale retelling, Fourth Sister doesn’t dwell on heavy magic or the large amount of swordplay that many fantasies focus on. Instead, it focuses on the characters and their emotional growth.

And that’s good because Shisei has much more to do than find a way to save her sister who is accused of causing the Kazoku’s son’s death. She must discover her family’s importance in the world…her importance in the world.

Every time I read one of Farb’s books, I find myself claiming, “This is my favorite one!” Each time I mean it. The characters in Fourth Sister, as in Farb’s other books, are full of life, emotion, and most of all, growth. More than that, they make me laugh, make me worry, and make me think.

In this particular book, Farb includes a haiku at the beginning of each chapter and a few more scattered throughout the pages. Each one is beautifully crafted and helped me take a minute to ponder what I had read and what I expected to read in the next chapter.

As always, Farb includes discussion questions at the back of the book. She also delivers a perfectly clean and all-age appropriate story.

Official Blurb

Shi, shi, fourth and death
Fourth sister and twin to death
Brother born silent
Blamed for her twin brother’s death, Shisei, the outcast fourth of seven sisters, apprentices herself to a mask maker; but when the local Kazoku accuses the youngest sister of killing his son, Shisei must lead her sisters in a deception that will either save the youngest or condemn them all.
Fourth Sister is a Japanese fairy tale retelling with sparse poetry and gold mended brokenness. A Studio Ghibli type story that invokes reflection.
Little Women x Spirited Away.

More Info

Purchase your copy of Fourth Sister on Amazon.

Follow M.L. Farb on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and her website.

Read my review of Vasilisa: Hearth and Bard Tales Book One.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review.
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