Providence does not abandon humanity.
Out of the darkness, a few girls are born and chosen to fight the forces of evil, chosen to show the light. A sisterhood is born and forged to wield the power of good.
They alone carry the hopes of those in need.
For generations, the Guardians and Demon Hunters have held the vampires, demons, and forces of darkness at bay. Now a new evil emerges, seeking to reclaim an ancient power that would destroy the forces of good and bring forth a new age of terror across the earth.
Sixteen-year-old Isabella O’Brien returns home in time for The Gathering, an event orchestrated by the Guardians that brings together twenty of the best demon hunters on the planet. Izzy, with the help of her newfound friends and fellow demon hunters Grace and Nikki, must find a way to face a new wave of evil that could not only wipe them out, but put an end to the Guardians and bring forth a new age for vampires and creatures of the night.
But can Izzy handle the one weapon that can vanquish this evil, or will it fall into the hands of those she is destined to battle?
Rare that I’ll read a book a second time out of enjoyment, but this book never bores. The story goes full circle with character development and overcoming evil, and it leaves me feeling whole after every reading.
Typically when literature or film empowers women, they do it by making men inferior. The guys are usually portrayed as useless and less intelligent, weaker and incapable. But Sisterhood of Light maintains a balance between the sexes. Sean is just as important as Elizabeth. John is just as necessary as Izzy, Grace, and Nikki.
Barillas created powerful teenage girls without dumbing down his villains too. Another trend I see is that the only way a woman could be strong in a story is if her adversaries weren’t that powerful to begin with. But these villains are merciless and monstrous, and still these teen girls take them head on.
Izzy, Grace, and Nikki are strong because of their drive to stop evil. They’re skilled because they’ve trained for it like Grace, or because they’re experienced with it like Izzy. The power they have, they’ve earned, and the strength that inspires comes from their determination despite the odds. They never back down and they never give up, and if that isn’t the message I want my teen daughter learning from characters, I don’t know what is.
Villains Done Right:
I’m a sucker for villains that are villainous, and I’ll be damned if Barillas didn’t write some of my favorite villains in fiction.
- Dark Shadow: This villain has the power to burst into purple mist and teleport herself across the battlefield. An unforgettable line from one of her fights is: “Now you see me” then she disappears from Izzy and reappears behind her target “Now you don’t.” (page 167) That line gives me goosebumps EVERY SINGLE TIME I read it.
- Dragnor: First off, what a badass name for a demon. Second off, the demons in this book are ruthless and lack humanity (which is realistic), and this stays consistent throughout the story. Dragnor is not only massive in size, but he’s the kind of villain you fear for the character’s sake.
- Hillions: “Three large Hillions came out; as well as three large demon gargoyles. Both types of monsters were impressive in height as well as build. The Hillions were eight-foot-five inches tall, with wide frames and hideous faces. Brown skin covered their large muscles, making them the juggernauts of the demon world.” (page 251)
- If that doesn’t put an image in your head of a beast you instantly feel overpowered by, reread it. That’s one of my favorite lines in the entire book because it induces terror in the reader, leaving you feeling like the ratio between good and evil is unbalanced, that the antagonists are completely capable of eliminating the girls. But then the girls fight, and leave us feeling like these demons are no challenge at all.
I hate organized avenging like a church congregation that fights the demonic, or centuries old family lineage that battles evil. In my opinion, that’s a cheap way of evading a unique backstory for WHY a character is in the line of work they’re in, and it’s not a genuine calling. It’s obligation that the characters are doing good, which deprives their character of quality.
But in Sisterhood of Light, I can take the organized calling of these teen girls because Izzy, Grace, and Nikki break the trend. The most important part, though, is HOW they do it. In every story with a teenage lead, the way things change is because the teen rebelliously broke the rules and paved new ones. In Sisterhood of Light, the story isn’t about three teens who rebelled against the ways of old. It’s about evolution. About the integration of new into a system of old.
“For too long, we have worked on a specific pattern-and the bad guys know this.” – Izzy (page 175)
Izzy, Grace, and Nikki aren’t going against the demon hunter organization to fight vampires and demons. These three teens are collaboratively asserting their life experience in battle into the present fight at hand, and I love that. For once in a young adult story, my teens won’t be learning that the only way to do what’s right is to break the rules and do it your own way. It’s the same way everything evolves, is we adapt the system to current standards and capabilities to improve its quality and functionality. Izzy, Grace, and Nikki did the same thing to hunting, and you’ll only know if it worked if you read the book.
Whispers of God
While I wouldn’t call this book outright religious, Barillas winks at God throughout the entire story, often referring to Him as “Providence”.
“Fear crippled those who were supposed to be brave- not because they feared death, but because they feared to lose control and give power to the abstract and immaterial.” (page 17)
- Now, that pretty much sums up why I think most people refuse God. He’s seemingly immaterial and abstract, and they fear to lose control to something they can’t see and touch.
“Providence does not abandon humanity” (page 18)
Apocalyps (written intentionally without the “e” to distinguish the sword from the Biblical end-of-times) speaks of the origin story of sin in the Garden of Eden without preaching about the story from Genesis. God is only hinted at, and if you know Him then you’ll see Him sprinkled throughout the story.
- Fight scenes are well-paced and adrenaline sparking
- There’s a great balance between the villain’s point of view and the protagonist’s point of view
- The tension in the end fight scene is excruciatingly entertaining! What a hell of a fight to the teeth.
- The use of magic in the story wasn’t a quick-fix escape when the characters were out of options. The magic was gradually established as the story progressed so that when Grace used it to save herself and her friends, we weren’t at all cheated out of a proper escape.
- Sean and Elizabeth are always my favorite characters. Their love is unfailing and they give me a sense of completion.
While Sisterhood of Light wasn’t written to target young adults, it’s suitable for them and I recommend you let your teenager enjoy some kickassery. The messages Izzy, Grace, and Nikki portray through this story, everything they stand for, everything we learn from them overcoming their weakness will inspire you and your teen to be strong even when facing insurmountable odds.