Sisters of the Snake by Sasha and Sarena Nanua
Series: Ria & Rani #1
Expected publication: June 15th 2021 by HarperTeen
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Representation: Indian (Punjabi)
A lost princess. A dark puppet master. And a race against time—before all is lost.
Princess Rani longs for a chance to escape her gilded cage and prove herself. Ria is a street urchin, stealing just to keep herself alive.
When these two lives collide, everything turns on its head: because Ria and Rani, orphan and royal, are unmistakably identical.
A deal is struck to switch places—but danger lurks in both worlds, and to save their home, thief and princess must work together. Or watch it all fall into ruin.
Deadly magic, hidden temples, and dark prophecies: Sisters of the Snake is an action-packed, immersive fantasy that will thrill fans of The Crown’s Game and The Tiger at Midnight.
Received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the authors and the publisher!
Pitched as an Indian retelling of The Princess and the Pauper, Sisters of the Snake reminded me of the Barbie movie infused with Disney vibes and magic. With the twins swapping roles and positions, finding out that they come in a pair, neither of them was ready for what’s to come.
The only thing they could do is to lie and adapt. Raised differently, these two sisters are distinctive in terms of their opinions of the world and their own personalities.
We are sisters. We are branches from one tree, and though we’ve grown in opposing directions, we will always share the same roots.
A thief and supposed orphan, Ria grew up in an orphanage where resources are scarce and survival meant everything. Growing up, Ria knows the troubles and personally experienced the life of the poor. This developed into her detest of the raja and the royalties. Dauntless and quick-witted Ria never thought that she would be royalty and a twin.
As the only daughter, Rani was raised with an expectation to run the kingdom someday which meant that she needed to be ruthless like her father. Locked in a gilded cage, all Rani desired was to be free of all worries and the title of princess. Switching identity with Ria offered her the opportunity to explore the world and she soon finds out about the peril her people are in.
Since the twins are different in nature and character, it’s a surprise that not many people found it suspicious. Ria, never one to back down from a fight, became more vocal when she took over as Rani. While Rani, born in the palace, never had Ria’s proficient skills in thieving and cunningness.
“The first step to healing our wounds is to speak of them. That’s what stories do. They teach us to remember, and to overcome.”
The magic system in Sisters of the Snake is intertwined with the history and lore of the Creator, Amran, who made the six Masters of Magic. Each of them has their own powers which are passed down to their descendants. Unfortunately, when the Snake Master deceived the others and obtained the Bloodstone, every form of magic, excluding the snake’s, disappeared.
While Rani searches for the Bloodstone with Amir and Ria spends more time with Saeed, the twin sisters started falling for people they shouldn’t. In this aspect, I’m surprised that the switching of Ria and Rani didn’t confuse or even raise more doubts for Amir and Saeed when the sisters are vastly unlike one another aside from their looks.
Overall, this Indian-inspired retelling is embedded with rich culture that’s prevalent in the plot, food and clothing. Sarena and Sasha Nanua’s writing created an atmospheric debut novel.
This was definitely a fond throwback to my childhood when I was obsessing over The Princess and the Pauper Barbie movie. I loved the South Asian representation in Sisters of the Snake. The plot can be a little cliché but I still enjoyed the authors’ take on the retelling. I’m waiting for book two!