The Salbine SistersThe Salbine Sisters by Sarah Ettritch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Salbine Sisters is a strong character story about love and overcoming adversity. The Salbine Sisters is a religious order of magi who reside together in a monestary. We are introduced to Maddy, an initiate in the order who is having difficulty calling the elements and as such has been receiving tutelage from one of the most powerful mages in the order, Lillian. By the time the story starts, the two have also formed a relationship beyond that of Mistress and student.

The problems start, not because of the lesbian relationship nor the age difference (although that does concern Lillian) nor the difference in rank but the fact that despite receiving a calling to serve the order it transpires that Maddy is what the Sisters term ‘malflowed’ which is an inability to wield elements or perform magic. Whilst those around Maddy attempt to convince her that performing magic is not the only thing there is to being a sister in the service of Salbine it’s not long before Maddy sets out on a journey to another monestary to research the journals of another who suffered from the same problem.

Unfortunately, she never arrives and it turns out that the general populace also shares the view that wielding magic is part and parcel of being a sister and Maddy is viewed a fraud and sent to prison. It is there where she meets Emmey and suffers hardship and learns what it is to be in the service of Salbine.

I can’t express how wonderful, sweet and romantic this love story is. All three of the main characters, Maddy, Lillian and Emmey go through a personal journey and by the end of the book are where they need to be. Maddy’s journey is especially harrowing and heart rending. As I’ve stated, this is very much a character story so there is little to no world building to detract from the story. For example, we don’t know where the order came from, the name of the world or country it is set in, why those called have markings appear on their hands. And you know what? It doesn’t need it either.

Another review of mine slated authors who ended their books in a cliff hanger and I admonished that a good story is sufficient to make a reader want further books by the author. The Salbine Sisters is a self contained novel where every major thread is resolved but is such a great story that I would love to see a sequel set perhaps five years in the characters future. I’m racking my brains but I would also have to say that this is the first lesbian romance that I’ve read and I wonder if there are similar ilk of such a high standard?

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