Dana is human who has built a normal human life. As much as you can when she was born in 1912. After making a deal with an ancient vampire shortly after her marriage, she gave part of her soul to create a vampire – her soul sister, Ani. After a long journey over the years, the two now live together, best friends and greatest confidants, the siblings are enjoying their eternal lives in their own ways.
Except Ani’s reckless behaviour draws more attention from the powers that be. Until her passionate defence of Dana against an attacker leads to more public deaths the vampire leader refuses to ignore. He demands their deaths and can find them anywhere
This launches a battle to find allies, to find a place to hide which, inevitably, leads to its own revolution as the siblings are forced to take the battle to the enemy.
This book has an extremely unique twist on the traditional vampire tale. In this world vampires are created by taking part of the soul of a human and creating a vampire “twin”. They look very alike and they depend on each other to survive. If one dies the other dies – resulting in a vampire and an immortal human. While it’s clear that not every vampire/human twin has a close bond, Ani and Dana definitely do.
The book also focuses on Dana, the human of the pair, and her journey into this life. Her life as a human in 1912, her life with her family and then her husband – followed by how she first made the decision to give up her soul and create Ani, and how her life developed with her new sister. Her past is rich and really well built with a full sense of what set her on the path. So much so that I think I would have liked to see more of Dana’s past in between the present and the loss of her husband, just to see the character develop more.
It’s also pretty rare to see a book that focuses so much on a sibling relationship. That mutual affection, care and worry for each other still spaced with that very common frustration at the others actions. It’s a very natural relationship for the most part and underpins the book.
For a long time though, the book does seem to be spinning it’s wheels. We’re introduced to these characters but they don’t seem to be overly involved in anything except developing them. Even when the path is set, they then spend a lot of detailed time training all interspaced with odd little conflicts as one of the characters gets angry over something – which then disappears or fades away. The end of the book does pick up very well though, racing with plot and intensity towards the conclusion.
Unfortunately, while the book had wonderful things going for it, it was then badly let down by the writing. Firstly, it needed an editor. I understand this is a later edition and considerably improved on previous versions but there are still grammar and word issues that need correcting.
Beyond that, the book just didn’t flow for me, I found the language and, especially, the dialogue extremely stilted and unnatural, often bogged down with unnecessary explanation and exposition, too much telling rather than showing and an almost repetitive need to drive every point home. I think the best way to show this is with a quote:
“Her friend Tasha said loudly. She said it so loud it left her ears tingling. Dana knew it was her friend Tasha because of the extra drama she poured into saying the simple words.”
After this we get a long explanation of who Tasha is (a friend – which we already know) and this character never really comes up again. This kind of writing continues throughout the entire book, stilted, long winded and often unnecessary.
The setting also jarred me from the story at times. While I loved the story of Dana’s past in 1912, her travels and how it set her path on the road she’s on, where she come from and how she lived, the setting got weaker the further we went in the book. When the team arrived in London it completely fell apart. They stay in an uptown apartment in London with a forest out their back door. One of two forests they hunt in containing wolves and bears. It wouldn’t have taken more than a google search to discover the unlikeliness of these wolf and bear haunted inner-London forests nor to discover that there was no way the protagonist could buy a can of coke for “50 cents” from a pizzeria in the city. Really, it would have been better to treat London the way they did Madrid – generic with no real description at all. The characters that were not American all felt American, there was no sense of Spain or England or Ancient Rome about them at all.
I have to say I found the ending anti-climactic, especially after the story was picking up towards the end of the book, all that crescendo fell rather flat. I also just can’t get behind these characters hailing Ani as a ruler. Maybe if we’d seen more of why Donovan is such a bad leader, or more depth from Ani, but we didn’t. All we know about Ani is that she has poor impulse control, casually and remorselessly kills people and has spent most of her 100 year existence partying. One of the things Donovan chided Dana and Ani for was for not realising the potential of their long lifespans. I just don’t see why Ani would be considered a desirable leader.
On inclusion, there are no GBLTQ people in this book, it’s completely erased. But it does have some excellent racial inclusion. The protagonist and many of the side characters are POC and that includes during the flashbacks to 1912 – and none of them are in stereotyped roles. They show a range and diversity of characters and settings which is especially unique when showing historical scenes since POC generally have even more restricted roles in novels looking into the past.
Dana and Ani bounce off each other well for the most part. They have a strong relationship that feels like family – though at times I think tension and conflict is introduced between them for the sake of it and it can feel forced. Dana also has very real bonds with her family and husband in the past. These are strong people with a strong sense of history and place that contains their culture and background without devolving into stereotype or trope.
I liked that Ani was fully in charge of her own sexuality and I liked that Dana refused Donovan’s interference into their lives for the most part. Both felt like great, powerful statements – but both were compromised I feel. Ani was happy to sleep with whoever she chose, but Rebecca’s beauty and flirtatious ways were condemned and I don’t know if Ani’s partying was supposed to be considered part of her growing recklessness. Dana rejects Donovan’s control – but takes his money and holds a rather unreasonable seeming grudge against him. Does she reject his control for the sake of independence or because she doesn’t like him? In both cases there could be a strong message here, but it depends on the angle you look from.
In the end, I’m left feeling disappointed in this book. Because it had vast potential that I didn’t think it reached. It had an interesting and unique context that really set it apart from so many of the other vampire books out there. That major difference in the creation of vampires sets up a whole new dynamic, a dependence and closeness with humans that goes beyond the usual romance trope which is fascinating to see. We also have a focus on sibling relationships which I have never seen in the genre, not truly to this degree, and a whole different family dynamic. Again, it’s a book about relationships and love that doesn’t shortcut to romance.
Extremely different and well worth developing. But I feel it was let down by the writing style I just couldn’t get into, some dodgy world settings that jerked me out of the story and moments in the plot that were just bogged down and more where I couldn’t agree with the character’s logic. I hope this improves in later books in a series because it has the seeds of something great here.
This book was provided as part of a blog tour organised by FMB Blog Tours
Title: Soul Sisters
Series: Soul Sisters Trilogy, #1
Author: Janiera Eldridge
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Publisher: Mystic Press
Soul Sisters is an urban fantasy novel about African-American twin sisters Ani and Dana who have a rather unique secret: one sister is human while the other is a vampire. While the sisters have lived peacefully with each other for many years one fateful night will change both their lives forever. When a drunken man tries to attack Dana (the human sister) Ani (the vampire sister) protects her sister with all of her ferocious power.
However, when the vampire's leader Donovan finds out about the public display he calls for the sisters to be assassinated for disobedience. Ani and Dana now are in for the fight of their lives to protect each other as well as the lives of their dedicated friends who have joined them on their mission for survival. If Dana and Ani can make it through this time of uncertainty, Ani can take her new place as vampire queen. Soul Sisters is expected to be a trilogy; The book also features a multicultural cast of characters that brings a new edge of chic to the vampire world.
About the Author:
Janiera Eldridge loves feeding her book addiction and putting all her crazy stories on paper. When she is not immersed in the world of fiction, she is working as an entertainment freelance writer.
Janiera also enjoys connecting with other authors and supporting their work on her book blog Books&Beauty.
Don’t miss book two Dark Expectations coming November 2012!
1915 New York City
Bryson and Dana walked arm and arm down the blustery New York street laughing about the Christmas party they had just left. The snow was fresh and powdery. Neither of them felt the icy cold snowflakes floating down and speckling their coats because they were wrapped in the warmth of each other’s company.
“Did you see how Charles acted after taking that last shot of whiskey?” Dana asked.
Bryson could not contain his laughter thinking about their friend’s drunkenness. Everyone who had been at the party was probably laughing about it on their way home, too, particularly the part when Charles took off his pants and danced on top of the piano. Bryson laughed so hard people gave them odd passing glances.
“Yes.” Bryson gave a bright smile and grabbed her face to kiss her as they stood in the middle of the sidewalk. He wanted people to stop and stare at his beautiful wife. He wasn’t afraid to show her off every chance he got. The women cooed softly at the sweetness of the moment while the men ushered their women forward murmuring about how indecent their public display of affection was for the community. Truthfully they just didn’t want their wives to get any ideas.
It took Dana a few seconds to catch her breath. She couldn’t believe he would do something that indecent in public. It didn’t matter to her, however, because it felt way too good to be wrong. They stepped off the curb without a care in the world; Dana held onto Bryson’s arm tightly and could not stop staring into his eyes.
A few seconds later Dana felt a sharp pain and a crushing blow to her arm. It was as if a freight train slammed into her right side. She instantly started sobbing from the pain and confusion of the situation. She felt like a block of ice was on top of her chest as she lay sprawled out on the ground. Her legs were straight out together in front of her but her arms were stretched out wide, going in two different directions. Her head turned slowly to the left when she heard a woman screaming and she saw Bryson on the ground with his eyes wide open. She blinked a few times to clear up her vision and then she spotted a pool of blood circling his head like a flowing halo.
Dana tried to push against the woman lying on top of her but the person was impossible to move no matter how hard she tried.
“You don’t want to see this, you’re safe now,” the woman said softly in her ear; she sounded just like her.
“Soul sister?” Dana asked as she felt herself losing consciousness. She heard the chaos of the world going on around her but then she slipped into a black void. When she came to in a small nearby hospital she was disoriented and feeling miserable. There was a dull ache in her head and the vision in her right eye was blurry. She thought she saw a petite woman standing in the doorway, maybe she knew what had happened to Bryson.
“Where is my Bryson? Is he OK? What happened?”
The woman walked over to the bed and placed a hand on her head. Dana could see the woman was wearing a nurse’s outfit and she guessed she was in a hospital. The woman’s hand felt ice cold against her burning flesh.
“I’m sorry to tell you, ma’am, but your husband was hit by a moving vehicle. He suffered a bad head injury and he is no longer alive. I am so sorry.”
“No, wait. We were just coming back from a Christmas party. When did this happen?”
“You stepped off the side walk with your husband, ma’am. Apparently you could not see the car and the car could not see you. A woman who looked oddly like you pushed you out of the way and saved your life. Your husband didn’t make it. I’m very sorry. Would you like some water or a cup of juice?”
“No, no, thank you. Can I see him at least?”
“Not now honey. I really think you should get some rest. There’s a young woman who is here to see you. She says she’s your sister. Are you ready to see her?”
Dana coughed deeply and felt a liquid build up in her throat that she quickly swallowed back down; she was afraid to see who it was.
“OK,” was all she could seem to get out of her throat.
Her soul sister quietly stepped into the room as she faced the wall. She didn’t want the woman to see her nervousness or confusion. As much as she wanted to hug her sister she also wanted to punch her.
“Why didn’t you save my husband?” Dana asked choking back tears but keeping a straight face. As the tears filled up her eyes, her cheeks began to sting and swell
“The car came so fast. I didn’t have time to save you both. I’ve seen you with Bryson before and I know how much you loved him, I’m so very sorry.”
“What is your name?” Dana asked, sitting up against the pillow.
“Ani,” She said softly.
“Ani, I don’t think I want to live much longer. I sold my soul to save my husband’s life and Donovan took him away from me. I really don’t see any reason to live anymore.”
Ani sat down in a chair and moved closer to the side of the bed. She placed her hand on Dana’s head and felt that she had a slight temperature. She would notify a nurse as soon as she left the room. Ani loved her sister and if her sister died then she died too.
“Donovan had nothing to do with what happened. Your husband’s time came up again and he was taken. Donovan didn’t order his death. I’m sure he is very concerned about this and knows how much this hurts you. He is good at feeling things like this.”
“Your kind feels? You don’t want me to kill myself because then you will die too. Frankly, I don’t care what happens to you right now. You’re such a small fragment of me; I don’t even think you’re real. This is just a bad nightmare. I’ll wake from it; I’ll be at home warm and safe with my parents. Bryson never actually existed and I sure as hell know you don’t either.”
Dana turned her head back to the wall and let the tears flow freely down her face. She placed her hand over her mouth to stifle the cries; her heart felt like it had broken into a million pieces. Now, she couldn’t live for anybody else but herself. Dana saw the look of despair in her sister’s face but it wasn’t enough for her to let her soul sister into her life.
“I’ll never turn my back on you when you need me, no matter how far away you are or how much danger you’re in. I know we’re supposed to be twins but I feel like you’re my baby sister.” She gave a light chuckle and then headed for the door. “I’ll be back to visit you tomorrow, and the next day and the next day. Even if you never want to see me it’s OK, but I’m not going to be without you any longer. I love you way too much.”
“I don’t care if you come back a million times. I will never talk to you again. Get the hell out of my room!” Dana threw a glass at Ani’s head. Ani moved her head slightly to the left as it flew into the wall and shattered into tiny pieces. She took a deep breath and nodded her head up and down slowly; she had to give her more time. Ani had been programmed to take on the evil ways of the world but Dana’s rose-colored glasses had just been stepped on.