The Lost Sisterhood
By Anne Fortier
Ballantine Books March 2014
Read via Netgalley
Diana Morgan is trying to deal with the usual craziness of life - guest lecturing at Oxford, flirting with a handsome professor, and figuring out if her grandmother was actually crazy. One day, a stranger approaches her on the street. He knows who she is and knows that her specialty is researching and teaching about the Amazons, the mythical tribe of women warriors. The stranger offers to pay her to examine some newly excavated writing that could hold the key to the history and fate of the Amazons. Before she can take official leave from Oxford, Diana is off on a whirlwind international adventure that will reveal long held secrets about the fall of Troy and the story of the Amazons.
The Lost Sisterhood is told in dual storylines. In the first, Diana is looking for answers about the Amazons, why she was chosen for this expedition, and how her family history ties into it all. In the second story, we meet two sisters named Myrina and Lilli. After their family is killed, they set out to find protection from the Moon Goddess. When their temple is attacked, Myrina is able to use her skills as a hunter to teach the priestesses to defend themselves and to seek vengeance. Their quest takes them all over the Hellenic world and introduces them to some of ancient history's most infamous characters including Paris, Helen, and King Priam.
Fortier walks a fine line with this story. There are two issues that are woven throughout - the role of curator in preserving artifacts and women in general as Amazons. As someone who works with ancient languages, Diana is often confronted with questions about who owns which pieces of history. While this book does deal with the some of the shady underworld of ancient artifacts and Diana does come down firmly on one side of the question, these issues serve the story instead of beating the reader into submission. From the beginning of the story, Diana wonder if perhaps Amazons still walk among us. While I won't give away the answer to that one, suffice it to say it would be easy for Fortier to blatantly make this about women's empowerment. While the author obviously feels this is important, she does it by creating strong characters instead of just recording a viewpoint.
There are reviewers who seem to find Diana somewhat lacking as a character and to some extent, it's understandable. She makes many questionable decisions and seems completely out of her element for most of the story. But she is someone who studies languages and notes at one point that she doesn't have the connections or money to go on digs like this one. She mostly sits in libraries and studies dead languages. And if she was a character who made rational decisions and just went home, then we wouldn't have this book to read.
The Lost Sisterhood is a delightful adventure. It is, perhaps, a bit long. I wish some of the characters were better developed. But this is the sort of book that you sit down and read in a few glorious binges. The adventure races right along in both timelines and readers will be on the edge of their seats as we find out what happened to Diana and Myrina. I will be happy to tag along on any adventure through historic places and exotic lands that Anne Fortier wants to create.