A monstrous fate will turn a girl into a legend. On an island in Lake Obersee, where The Sisters of St. Gertrude abide, a destitute Moor nam...

Review || Sisters of the Moon by Alexandrea Weis

A monstrous fate will turn a girl into a legend.

On an island in Lake Obersee, where The Sisters of St. Gertrude abide, a destitute Moor named Durra arrives. Sold for taxes, she and her two companions tend to the nuns and their collection of cats. At night, she combs the library for details on the order, the remote island, and the beasts howling outside her window.

But when a prank reveals the sisters’ gruesome secret, Durra is forced to accept a new fate. Bestowed an unearthly power, she must choose between life as a nun or living among the monsters beyond the convent walls.

Her path is about to change the tide in the ultimate war. The war between good and evil.

*Review first featured on GingerNuts of Horror November 12, 2020. 

A dark night. A desolate convent on an empty island. Thus begins this compelling story of three vastly different girls as they are taken from their familiar lives to begin anew with the Sisters of the St. Gertrude Convent. Told from the perspective of Durra, a Moor who has always struggled to find a place in which her dark skin did not feel conspicuous, we venture to the island of Die Wächter. Together with Emily, a slave girl, and Leida, the daughter of a farmer, this trio was sold by the men and supposed protectors in their lives and delivered to St. Gertrude to make their home. 

Durra's struggle and unfortunate lot in life has transformed her into a clever, perceptive protagonist. While Emily has plenty of cheek, she's quite rash and impetuous. For someone who was a slave, she comes across as spoiled and a bit bratty. Leida, the farmer's daughter, is quite bland in comparison, and while kindhearted, is easily swayed by Emily. Although the trio each come from very different backgrounds and experiences, finding themselves in the same predicament, they form somewhat of a sisterly bond almost from the start.

The convent is a dark and terrible place at odds with the friendliness of the nuns and experiencing it from Durra's eyes makes it larger than life.  It's an eerie place where the walls are permeated with cryptic carvings and bloody tapestries of gruesome creatures joined in battle. The sisters, while seemingly friendly, are curiously all vegetarians, eschewing any type of meat, and they are strangely all young and pleasing to the eye. As St. Gertrude is the patron saint of cats, within the convent they also find a multitude of cats that the sisters themselves are charged with caring for. To add to the strangeness, the girls are told to be inside their rooms before nightfall and so they do not leave, their door is barred. Not the only ones to be locked inside, the Sisters' room is perplexingly bolted shut as well. Outside the convent lurks darkness filled with howling creatures and unknown dangers. 

At only 250 pages, Sisters of the Moon is a speedy read. Chimerical in nature, claiming a decided genre for this one is difficult. While there are obvious horror elements, there are also elements of fantasy, suspense, mystery, and yes, even a historical morsel intertwined throughout. More than just a fable of sisterhood and triumph of the feminine, this good-versus-evil plot is a slow-burning shifter horror tale at heart. Don't let the YA appearing cover deceive you—there are shadowy secrets around every corner and a much darker side of the Sisters of St. Gertrude to discover.