Review: Sisters of Moirai by Jill M. Lehman

★★★★ Sisters of Moirai by Jill Lehman

Three girls, Meg, Baby, and Carrie, are Sisters of Moirai. Trapped in a mysterious institution where writing is banned, they write their story at their own peril with a buried pen, blood, dirt. The Suits, those in charge, have a Code of Conduct, and those who do not follow the rules face severe punishment.

Moirai is a strange and dark place, and “Rooms” keep appearing in the building where the girls will face their demons, sometimes almost literally. As they work through their troubles from their pasts, the places they are forced into become psychological battlegrounds – and seeming playgrounds for The Suits. But is all as it seems as the three make their way through the experiences?

Sisters of Moirai is written with hard-hitting language. Author Jill Lehman does not hold back on her characters’ dialogue, building stress and strain into their narration to successfully build a creeping sense of what exactly is going on in this psychological horror story. There is a lot of trigger content touching on rape, molestation, parental issues, eating disorders, and child abandonment, and characters suffer various sorts of torture in captivity a great deal during the book. Lehman should be commended for not following the fad of lightening the shock value for those more timid readers. None of that here – horror fans who like a genuinely burrowing tale will take their fill.

The writing is well-crafted, and each character’s story is compelling. However, one issue is that each narrator seems to have the same voice, with no difference in language or narration style, which is a shame really, because there is a lot of interesting content here that could sing with a bit of a rewrite. While the book is obviously focusing on the horrible sides to the lives of these girls, some readers may find the book somewhat relentless: at times, it’s a little too much to read about yet another unfortunate aspect to one of their lives in yet more upsetting detail. But it seems that the book’s purpose is more than just a story: author Lehman is fable-building, using the imagery in the book as a pathway through each issue, and eventually, giving the reader some navigation.

Although this book has a Girl, Interrupted meets “Gothika” vibe, the author misses some structural opportunities in making this book more satisfying to finish, with a lot of the narrative concentrating on past events within the confounds of the Rooms, and it is not always clear what is dreamed, real, or imagined, despite the fact the author wants to build a sense of the mysterious – often the outcome is left unclear.

What really adds to the book is a well-chosen cover image and nicely formatted interior. The author has taken time with detail here, and it makes the book all the more readable, as does the attention to proofing.

Given Lehman’s background as a therapist, the book serves as a portrait of the young female damaged mind, a subject that many will find endlessly fascinating in this form, and ultimately perhaps, healing, giving the darker moments in this book a deeper purpose.

Author Site

Sisters of Moirai