The synopsis of Shadow Sister grabbed me. C’mon, Spanish, vineyards, vinters, and family? It’s like my Legacy of the Vines series but in Washington. I had to read it.
Women’s fiction? Awesome! It wouldn’t be steeped in heavy romance. Score!
I signed up to request a review copy within seconds of reading blurb and squealed with the book arrived—signed by the author, no less.
As much as I wanted to read it that day, I knew I had a couple of months before it was due, and I had books due before that time. The books still aren’t finished, but um, the review is due.
So today, I started reading.
Curled up in bed, with the turbine engine that masquerades as a fan blasting me, I put my hair in a net to save me from face tickles, grabbed my cheaters, and cracked open the book.
At last. Just me, Washington vineyards, a couple of sisters, and the Lord.
Note: Links in this post may be affiliate links that provide me with a small commission at no extra expense to you. Additionally, I requested a review copy of this book and this is what I thought of it.
Did I Love or Hate Shadow Sister and Why?
The simple answer is yes.
But that won’t suffice. There’s so much to this book that I have to start with what I loved.
Characters: Katherine Scott Jones managed to create some of the most realistic and beautifully flawed characters I’ve seen in a long time. Every person in the story had multiple layers. Just as you became certain you knew what this one or that said or thought, another petal peeled away to reveal a sweeter, fresher fragrance to that person—one you didn’t know could exist.
She showed the strengths and the weaknesses of both protagonists and antagonists, and she never once fell into the trap of creating villains where they weren’t necessary just because that person was an antagonist. Neither did she justify people’s wrongs into poor, misunderstood fellows.
I loved that.
Settings: I don’t know if Ms. Jones has ever been to Bolivia or even to Washington state. I have no clue. What I do know is that she made me believe she had—that they were places deeply etched into her soul. This she did with careful, and where appropriate, lavish, description but never once with excess.
Story: We all know that for me it’s all about story. This one is a doozy. It jumps time, past and present, it shifts points of view, and it does it all without leaving the reader confused. Rather, she takes her time to anchor you into every moment before allowing it all to unfold, and she does this without dragging or weighing down the story.
You can understand why I said that I loved it, right? Who wouldn’t?
But I did say “yes” to whether I loved or hated it. There’s a reason for that. You see, despite the rich description, heart-rending story, and wonderful characterization, a shadow falls across the page that made every chapter work for me to read through.
Normally, I’d blame myself for that. You see, that shadow is that the entire book is written in present tense—both first and third person. I frankly despise present tense writing.
But recently, I was introduced to a book where it was done so skillfully that I didn’t even realize it was until three-quarters through the book. And that taught me something. Present tense can be done amazingly well. That one element of this book just wasn’t—not for me.
I thought I’d knock a star off for it.
Because it was hard work to slog through the writing style. But as I sit here thinking about the story, about the characters, about everything that I loved in this book, I realize that I do love it despite its glaring flaw. Like one of the characters in this book, it has what I consider to be a “birth defect.” A gaping slash that mars its initial beauty.
But the true beauty of the story comes from a deeper place than the method of telling it. And because of that, I’m giving it five stars after all.
Recommended for people who love novels of family, broken and restored relationships, and mild romance. For those like me who find present tense difficult to read, I’d recommend doing the “see inside” portion before purchasing.
Book Title: Shadow Sister
Author: Katherine Scott Jones
Genre: Woman’s Fiction
Release date: August 28, 2018
Working on her father’s vineyard allows Sarah Lanning to bury memories of a lost love and a career that might have been. But then her fractured family receives word that her estranged sister, Jenna, is dead, leaving behind an unexpected request: that Sarah travel to Bolivia to scatter her ashes.
Accompanied by pilot Chase Maddox, Sarah embarks on an Andean journey that tests her devotion to home and exposes Jenna’s secret life. Each staggering discovery creates new mysteries—until the last, which leaves Sarah questioning everything she understood about family loyalty. At a crossroads, she must decide whether truth is worth the cost of forgiveness—and whether she can lay claim to a future of happiness without it.
Bittersweet and bold, Shadow Sister explores the mysteries of the human heart and the bond of unquenchable love.