Hot Best Seller

Sister Mother Warrior

Availability: Ready to download

Acclaimed author of Island Queen Vanessa Riley brings readers a vivid, sweeping novel of the Haitian Revolution based on the true-life stories of two extraordinary women: the first Empress of Haiti, Marie-Claire Bonheur, and Gran Toya, a West African-born warrior who helped lead the rebellion that drove out the French and freed the enslaved people of Haiti. Gran Toya: Born Acclaimed author of Island Queen Vanessa Riley brings readers a vivid, sweeping novel of the Haitian Revolution based on the true-life stories of two extraordinary women: the first Empress of Haiti, Marie-Claire Bonheur, and Gran Toya, a West African-born warrior who helped lead the rebellion that drove out the French and freed the enslaved people of Haiti. Gran Toya: Born in West Africa, Abdaraya Toya was one of the legendary minos--women called "Dahomeyan Amazons" by the Europeans--who were specially chosen female warriors consecrated to the King of Dahomey. Betrayed by an enemy, kidnapped, and sold into slavery, Toya wound up in the French colony of Saint Domingue, where she became a force to be reckoned with on its sugar plantations: a healer and an authority figure among the enslaved. Among the motherless children she helped raise was a man who would become the revolutionary Jean-Jacques Dessalines. When the enslaved people rose up, Toya, ever the warrior, was at the forefront of the rebellion that changed the course of history. Marie-Claire: A free woman of color, Marie-Claire Bonheur was raised in an air of privilege and security because of her wealthy white grandfather. With a passion for charitable work, she grew up looking for ways to help those oppressed by a society steeped in racial and economic injustices. Falling in love with Jean-Jacques Dessalines, an enslaved man, was never the plan, yet their paths continued to cross and intertwine, and despite a marriage of convenience to a Frenchman, she and Dessalines had several children. When war breaks out on Saint Domingue, pitting the French, Spanish, and enslaved people against one another in turn, Marie-Claire and Toya finally meet, and despite their deep differences, they both play pivotal roles in the revolution that will eventually lead to full independence for Haiti and its people. Both an emotionally palpable love story and a detail-rich historical novel, Sister Mother Warrior tells the often-overlooked history of the most successful Black uprising in history. Riley celebrates the tremendous courage and resilience of the revolutionaries, and the formidable strength and intelligence of Toya, Marie-Claire, and the countless other women who fought for freedom.


Compare

Acclaimed author of Island Queen Vanessa Riley brings readers a vivid, sweeping novel of the Haitian Revolution based on the true-life stories of two extraordinary women: the first Empress of Haiti, Marie-Claire Bonheur, and Gran Toya, a West African-born warrior who helped lead the rebellion that drove out the French and freed the enslaved people of Haiti. Gran Toya: Born Acclaimed author of Island Queen Vanessa Riley brings readers a vivid, sweeping novel of the Haitian Revolution based on the true-life stories of two extraordinary women: the first Empress of Haiti, Marie-Claire Bonheur, and Gran Toya, a West African-born warrior who helped lead the rebellion that drove out the French and freed the enslaved people of Haiti. Gran Toya: Born in West Africa, Abdaraya Toya was one of the legendary minos--women called "Dahomeyan Amazons" by the Europeans--who were specially chosen female warriors consecrated to the King of Dahomey. Betrayed by an enemy, kidnapped, and sold into slavery, Toya wound up in the French colony of Saint Domingue, where she became a force to be reckoned with on its sugar plantations: a healer and an authority figure among the enslaved. Among the motherless children she helped raise was a man who would become the revolutionary Jean-Jacques Dessalines. When the enslaved people rose up, Toya, ever the warrior, was at the forefront of the rebellion that changed the course of history. Marie-Claire: A free woman of color, Marie-Claire Bonheur was raised in an air of privilege and security because of her wealthy white grandfather. With a passion for charitable work, she grew up looking for ways to help those oppressed by a society steeped in racial and economic injustices. Falling in love with Jean-Jacques Dessalines, an enslaved man, was never the plan, yet their paths continued to cross and intertwine, and despite a marriage of convenience to a Frenchman, she and Dessalines had several children. When war breaks out on Saint Domingue, pitting the French, Spanish, and enslaved people against one another in turn, Marie-Claire and Toya finally meet, and despite their deep differences, they both play pivotal roles in the revolution that will eventually lead to full independence for Haiti and its people. Both an emotionally palpable love story and a detail-rich historical novel, Sister Mother Warrior tells the often-overlooked history of the most successful Black uprising in history. Riley celebrates the tremendous courage and resilience of the revolutionaries, and the formidable strength and intelligence of Toya, Marie-Claire, and the countless other women who fought for freedom.

30 review for Sister Mother Warrior

  1. 4 out of 5

    Millie

    I received the Advanced Reader’s Edition of this book through a giveaway by the publisher. Thoughts and words for this book review are my own. I was excited to read this book because I wanted to learn more about the Haitian Revolution. Unfortunately, the writing style (and/or editing style) wasn't for me. TL;DR: If you enjoyed reading Riley’s Island Queen, you’ll probably enjoy Sister Mother Warrior. If you’re picky about unnatural dialogue, whiplash from time skips, and poor character developmen I received the Advanced Reader’s Edition of this book through a giveaway by the publisher. Thoughts and words for this book review are my own. I was excited to read this book because I wanted to learn more about the Haitian Revolution. Unfortunately, the writing style (and/or editing style) wasn't for me. TL;DR: If you enjoyed reading Riley’s Island Queen, you’ll probably enjoy Sister Mother Warrior. If you’re picky about unnatural dialogue, whiplash from time skips, and poor character development, you may have similar thoughts as I do about this book (mostly disappointing ones). I read a few reviews of Island Queen and much of the comments about that story also resonate with my thoughts about this book: the constant time skips, the character stagnation (i.e. lack of growth), the dull, repetitive interactions, the unnatural dialogue, the lack of context and depth, and the fragmented chapters made this book a slog to get through. Even when we read in first person perspective from Toya or Marie-Claire, their observations are so dry and monotone that it’s like they only exist to relay factual information on what’s happening around them. This is supposed to be a story about revolution through the eyes of women! An historic movement towards liberty through war! Why wasn't it conveyed like that? We’re left in the dark about the characters’ feelings, their fears, hopes, resentments, excitements, everything. I would have liked more substance behind the characters and their relationships to one another in order to bring the story to life. This book is categorized as historical fiction but I came away feeling like it was purely fictional, maybe because it seemed like it was trying too hard to prove that it’s #Woke #Girlboss. It was a bit too on the nose with such contemporary language that it was frankly jarring to read. Because there are so many characters, and so much history and context to delve into, it felt like Riley didn’t know whether to write this story as a piece of historical fiction, romance, or history textbook, so she combined it all into one and missed opportunities to properly explore themes of redemption, privilege, colorism, and power (and its connection to both cruelty and mercy). I admire all the research that went into this work and think it would be better represented through a series rather than a standalone book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Val (pagespoursandpups)

    This sweeping saga of the Haitian Revolution brought context and understanding to a bloody and torturous multi-year war against oppression and control. This was an extremely heavy read. It is full of enslavement, torture, debasement, racism, power, pain, loss and grief. But it is also a story of passion, determination, withstanding, perseverance, overcoming and love. Based on two women in Haiti's history, this story starts in Africa and makes it's way to Saint Domingue, which eventually becomes H This sweeping saga of the Haitian Revolution brought context and understanding to a bloody and torturous multi-year war against oppression and control. This was an extremely heavy read. It is full of enslavement, torture, debasement, racism, power, pain, loss and grief. But it is also a story of passion, determination, withstanding, perseverance, overcoming and love. Based on two women in Haiti's history, this story starts in Africa and makes it's way to Saint Domingue, which eventually becomes Haiti. These two women, Gran Toya and Marie-Claire, are vastly different - but both are strong, loyal sisters, mothers and warriors. One's strength is in her fighting and her bravery, the other's is in her generosity and her servant heart. One a mother to many not of her own womb, the other a mother to the revolution leader's many children. The tale is so much more than just these 2 women. It is about how they became who they were destined to be, how they came to make such a difference in the world, and how they shaped the people around them. The introduction of words and phrases from different languages added to both the context and complexity of the story. The time jumps and different POVs make the read one that must be savored to be understood. This one is not a quick read. But it is definitely an important one. I loved getting to learn more about the history of Haiti. But reader, be warned, this is a difficult history to read. The amount of racism, injustice and trauma is vast - but vital to understand the necessity of the violence of war. The research for this book was amazing. Thank you to Bibliolifestyle and William Morrow Books for the gifted copy to read and review. I recommend this book to readers looking for serious historical fiction novels to grow their knowledge and understanding.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Crystal FL Girl

    A fight for freedom An intriguing tale for the freedom of Haiti. Stolen free people, enslaved and tormented and the trials and battles the people had to endure. The legacy of the warrior of the tribe of Minos. A chosen respected woman who endured and came back to inspire and win the long fought battle for freedom. A book that is very well written. An Inspiring tale. A story worth repeating ❤️ I won this book as a Goodreads Giveaway for my honest review

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kate | KatesBookNook

    I received the Advance Reader's Edition of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway from the publisher. Sister Mother Warrior releases July 12, 2022. What I liked: The concept of this book was good! I personally knew nothing about the Haitian Revolution prior to reading this book and I love with historical fiction books can teach me about something that I definitely tuned out during history classes in my school years. I was interested in learning about the contrast between the lives of the enslaved I received the Advance Reader's Edition of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway from the publisher. Sister Mother Warrior releases July 12, 2022. What I liked: The concept of this book was good! I personally knew nothing about the Haitian Revolution prior to reading this book and I love with historical fiction books can teach me about something that I definitely tuned out during history classes in my school years. I was interested in learning about the contrast between the lives of the enslaved vs free blacks as well as the racial tensions between the blacks, browns, and blancs. I'm also always in to learn about strong women and hard choices! Toya was very old school and loyal. Loved Marie-Claire's work to feed the hungry regardless of race and how she learned to stand up for herself. What I didn't like: While the concept was good, the execution was poor. This book was such a slog for me. It has a long and meandering storyline, covering over 50 years in small increments; I thought I would never finish it. The story really didn't get started until about 150 pages in. The choppiness of the storyline, skipping between characters and places, left me feeling disconnected from all of them. I would have loved to have more depth and emotion to our main characters to understand why they were behaving the way they did. The dialogue felt very stilted and unnatural, and often characters said things that seemed totally out of the blue and left me wondering if whatever they were referring to had been edited out. I know this was an ARC and not a final draft, but multiple errors in each chapter didn't help things either. It's clear that the author really did her research, but it sometimes came across more textbook-y with names spewed here and there without any context. I'm really hoping this gets a couple more rounds of editing before release, because it has great potential, but was pretty rough in it's current state.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra Evans

    This is a beautiful story with characters who are deep, flawed, and loving. I loved learning more about the time and place (Haiti and it’s revolutionary era) and the descriptions of place, people, and circumstance were all spectacular. It is on the longer side and life required me to take a break from reading it (well anything); when I returned, I had lost a little of the momentum and energy so key but picked it back up and ended so strongly. Keen to share with friends to discuss.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kenzie | kenzienoelle.reads

    4.5 stars. *Vanessa Riley has magic in her writing pen for me! I loved ‘Island Queen’ by her last year and I have been highly anticipating the release of this novel (out on July 12, 2022). *I LOVED this book!! Marie-Claire and Gran Toya were two to the strongest, most well-written, full of depth characters I’ve read this year. Their stories were fully fleshed out and beautiful and heart-wrenching AND this book was based on real women🤯 *The amount of researching that Riley put into this book abso 4.5 stars. *Vanessa Riley has magic in her writing pen for me! I loved ‘Island Queen’ by her last year and I have been highly anticipating the release of this novel (out on July 12, 2022). *I LOVED this book!! Marie-Claire and Gran Toya were two to the strongest, most well-written, full of depth characters I’ve read this year. Their stories were fully fleshed out and beautiful and heart-wrenching AND this book was based on real women🤯 *The amount of researching that Riley put into this book absolutely shone through while at the same time not reading like a dry history book. I can’t say in all my years of schooling I ever remember learning about the history of the country of Haiti. To get to learn about that country and how they got their independence and the Haitian Revolution while also learning about the Dahomey woman warriors was something I will never forget. Thank you, Partner @bibliolifestyle @williammorrowbooks for this gifted copy!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lee Woodruff

    I enjoyed this title and included it in my August Bookmarks: https://www.instagram.com/reel/ChcCfP... I enjoyed this title and included it in my August Bookmarks: https://www.instagram.com/reel/ChcCfP...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    This is a very important book that tacked a lot of history. It is clear to me that Riley is a master storyteller when it comes to historical fiction. In her hands history especially the women in it, just comes alive. As a historian, I can not express enough how wonderfully she handles historical complexity. Some of the narrative jumped a bit too fast, especially in the first half of the book but that was understandable given how much history and events have to take place for the story to work. I This is a very important book that tacked a lot of history. It is clear to me that Riley is a master storyteller when it comes to historical fiction. In her hands history especially the women in it, just comes alive. As a historian, I can not express enough how wonderfully she handles historical complexity. Some of the narrative jumped a bit too fast, especially in the first half of the book but that was understandable given how much history and events have to take place for the story to work. I received an ARC via Netgalley. Content Warnings: Physical abuse, torture, death of a child, cheating on a spouce

  9. 5 out of 5

    Steph Elias

    The book Sister Mother Warrior is based on a true story and tells of Marie-Claire Bonheur the first Empress of Haiti and Gran Toya a West African-born warrior who helped lead the rebellion that helped free the enslaved people of Haiti. I was not familiar with the revolution and found the story interesting and inspiring. The characters are very well-written and the writing is fantastic.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kari

    I’ve just read one of the most remarkable Historical Fiction books that I’ve read based on two astonishing strong women born in West Africa & Haiti who go on to lead the rebellion that helped free the enslaved people of Haiti. There is not one page that is not full of colorful characters and a story that leaves you yearning for more. A wealth of powerful women that span over a generation, each telling their story of a time that existed and how it could change and how people became so conflicted o I’ve just read one of the most remarkable Historical Fiction books that I’ve read based on two astonishing strong women born in West Africa & Haiti who go on to lead the rebellion that helped free the enslaved people of Haiti. There is not one page that is not full of colorful characters and a story that leaves you yearning for more. A wealth of powerful women that span over a generation, each telling their story of a time that existed and how it could change and how people became so conflicted over another person’s color of skin, that they would even kill because of it. From grandmother, daughter to grandchildren and another woman who was sold into slavery but eventually became a warrior that would lead her and teach others throughout life to fight. The stories of both Gran Toya and Marie Claire will feel as if you are living vicariously through them. It’s scenes are so descriptive and told in a way that I felt the balmy air and smelled the scents as they did. To realize the vastnesses of racism and injustice that existed during the period of 1750-1805 was sickening. Even Africans were subjected to judging each other on how dark their skin was. For instance there was very black, black and mulatto; the lighter the skin, the higher ranking you had in the community. The violence was surreal, the imprisonment, beatings and hunger of slaves was appalling and made me cry. This is a passionate account of a time that will resonate in my thoughts and forever in my heart.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa Palombo

    A fascinating and compelling look at the Haitian Revolution through the eyes of two women who fought in it, both in their own ways, and whose names should be much better known than they are. An incredible work of historical fiction!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lois is recovering slowly

    4.5 Stars rounded up I loved this. The focus on Marie Claire and Gran Toya are perfect to tell this story. The first 70% of this really moves at a quick rate. The narrative gets a bit bogged down during the confusing action of the Haitian Revolution. Very well done.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Sister, Mother, Warrior follows two women and the difference in history they made that lead to the full independence of Haiti. The contrast between the two women and how, ultimately, they became an integral part of history and the friendship they developed was a great journey.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    I won this book in a goodreads giveaway and was intrigued by the premise. Overall it is a really interesting book that covers a lot of ground and a huge time span. It was occasionally a little hard to keep the different names straight as several characters had many different titles or names throughout time. This book was a very interesting and sad look into what it took for Haiti to become a free nation and opened up a time I was not very familiar with.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Vanessa Riley...I love your books! Granted, I've only read two, but I loved both of them! They are so well researched and I learned something about a time (and person/people) that I knew nothing about! This is the story about two amazing women back in the 1800's...and the man they loved. (Ha! It's not what you think!) Meet Toya. Stolen from her village when she was just 12 and trained to be a Minos (all women) warrior; protector of a King Tegbesu. Toya took her responsibilities very seriously, whi Vanessa Riley...I love your books! Granted, I've only read two, but I loved both of them! They are so well researched and I learned something about a time (and person/people) that I knew nothing about! This is the story about two amazing women back in the 1800's...and the man they loved. (Ha! It's not what you think!) Meet Toya. Stolen from her village when she was just 12 and trained to be a Minos (all women) warrior; protector of a King Tegbesu. Toya took her responsibilities very seriously, which made her a fierce source to be reckoned with. When her friend and fellow warrior made the mistake of falling in love...life as they know it ceases to exist. When they are sold into slavery and sent to the French colony of Saint Domingue to a "Blanc" plantation owner…Toya, using the skills she learned from her mother, becomes a healer and an authority figure to the enslaved people. She also raises the man who is Jean-Jacques Dessalines. Toya, the past warrior with her son, is at the forefront of the rebellion that changed the course of history! Their story is so captivating! Meet Marie-Claire Bonheur. A black woman born with privilege due to her mother being a mulatto. She is passionate about fighting the injustices of the oppressed. She is a nurse, she works diligently to feed the poor and is very much in love with Jean-Jacques Dessalines. Their love story is full of power, frustrating timing, major events and a deepening desire that at times can be debilitating. This book won't be for everybody...but if you enjoy historical fiction, learning about different cultures and the absurdity of slavery and bondage, you just might find this book worth your while! It's long yet informative. It's difficult, yet has rewards. It's sad but with hope. I was completely engrossed with the story AND the characters! Thank you to Vanessa Riley and William Morrow for the opportunity to read and review this book!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Shawna

    This was a well thought out and clearly, well researched book. All I knew about the Haitian revolution was that it happened. This book gave me a much better understanding of it, and the role women played in it I received an advanced copy, as a Goodreads giveaway. That was obvious in the typos and need for additional editing, (Jakjak is "wild eyes" at first but soon becomes "wide eyes"), but later editions will be fabulous. I usually pass books on, but I foresee a desire to reread this one, so hol This was a well thought out and clearly, well researched book. All I knew about the Haitian revolution was that it happened. This book gave me a much better understanding of it, and the role women played in it I received an advanced copy, as a Goodreads giveaway. That was obvious in the typos and need for additional editing, (Jakjak is "wild eyes" at first but soon becomes "wide eyes"), but later editions will be fabulous. I usually pass books on, but I foresee a desire to reread this one, so holding on to it for the time being.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Lindo-Rice

    I absolutely love reading historical fiction, especially amazing black women from the past who rock and rocked history. Author Vanessa Riley does so using her unique writing style. First with Island Queen and now with, Sister Mother Warrior. One thing you can be sure of is that you are going to get a well-researched topic and you're going to learn some history you might not have known before. In Sister Mother Warrior, we meet two phenomenal women who were crucial in Haiti gaining its independence I absolutely love reading historical fiction, especially amazing black women from the past who rock and rocked history. Author Vanessa Riley does so using her unique writing style. First with Island Queen and now with, Sister Mother Warrior. One thing you can be sure of is that you are going to get a well-researched topic and you're going to learn some history you might not have known before. In Sister Mother Warrior, we meet two phenomenal women who were crucial in Haiti gaining its independence from France: Marie Claire and Gran Toya. Gran Toya was a Dahoney warrior from West Africa who was enslaved but who also helped raise Jean Jacques Dessalines, the leader of the Haitian Revolution. Marie Claire is the love of his life and a powerful woman in her own right - helping to nurse and help all, regardless of their race, in the war. It was a deep read for me and the author does not shy away from the tough truths of the past. Her descriptive writing style made me picture the gruesome torture but also the triumph of overcoming captivity. This literary work lingers with you after the end. It did take me some time to read but the heartfelt conclusion was worth it. Thank you, #Netgalley and #WilliamMorrowBooks for this ARC.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Reads by W

    I was very excited to get my hands on this fictionalized account of the Haitian Revolution told through the lens of 2 women connected to one another by the love they shared for Haiti’s first emperor, Jean Jacques Dessalines. The first is Gran Toya - a Dahomey warrior sold into slavery and brought to Saint-Domingue. The second is Marie-Claire Bonheur, a freeborn woman of color and Dessalines’ wife. This sweeping tale is told from an exclusively female point of view with each chapter alternating b I was very excited to get my hands on this fictionalized account of the Haitian Revolution told through the lens of 2 women connected to one another by the love they shared for Haiti’s first emperor, Jean Jacques Dessalines. The first is Gran Toya - a Dahomey warrior sold into slavery and brought to Saint-Domingue. The second is Marie-Claire Bonheur, a freeborn woman of color and Dessalines’ wife. This sweeping tale is told from an exclusively female point of view with each chapter alternating between the voices of Gran Toya and that of Marie-Claire. Through their accounts, we learn the story of Haiti - where the largest and most successful slave rebellion in modern history occurred. Haiti became the first black republic in the world, and the second nation in the western hemisphere to defeat a European power for its independence. It’s a compelling story, too infrequently told, and for that reason alone, I would recommend reading it. Here’s what I loved about the book: 1. it’s deeply researched. The author spent a lot of time deciphering conflicting narratives to create this very engaging account. 2. There are no holds barred. Gran Toya’s journey of vengeance and redemption is closely connected to her growing realization that her African King (and by extension all of his supporters) contributed to, benefited from, and enabled the slave trade. She has to accept this about herself, and spends her life atoning for the part she unwittingly played in the enslavement of thousands of her own people. By the same token, the book tackles “colorism” head on, revealing the ongoing tension between the free blacks and the enslaved, the Affranchis and the Africans, the Petit Blancs and the Grand Blancs. The author captured all these nuances well and portrayed the inter and intra race tension very clearly. 3. I counted at least 4 different languages (Fon, French, Kreyol, and English). Although this might frustrate some readers, i thought it was a stroke of genius, making me feel like I was right there on the streets of Saint-Domingue in the 18th century. A powerful story, compelling characters, and a moving tribute to the women without whom the Haitian Revolution could not have happened.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    [Copy #gifted by @williammorrowbooks @bibliolifestyle] READ IF YOU LIKE... • Lesser known historical fiction • Centering female narratives • Exploring the harm of colorism I THOUGHT IT WAS... A sweeping novel that covers an overlooked part of history but that sometimes feels forced and stilted. Adbaraya Toya is a fierce African warrior, who's been forced into slavery to save her king. Marie-Claire Bonheur is a free Black woman, raised in relative privilege because of her wealthy white grandfather. We [Copy #gifted by @williammorrowbooks @bibliolifestyle] READ IF YOU LIKE... • Lesser known historical fiction • Centering female narratives • Exploring the harm of colorism I THOUGHT IT WAS... A sweeping novel that covers an overlooked part of history but that sometimes feels forced and stilted. Adbaraya Toya is a fierce African warrior, who's been forced into slavery to save her king. Marie-Claire Bonheur is a free Black woman, raised in relative privilege because of her wealthy white grandfather. We follow these two women from their youth through the strife and terror of revolution in Saint Domingue to their destinies at the forefront of the new nation of Haiti. There are a lot of things to love about this novel. Riley does an admirable job truly making this book about the women who played big roles in the Haitian revolution. And she doesn't just show them in one dimension, like the fierce warrior or the saintly nurse. Riley doesn't want you to identify the trope and dismiss everything else. She shows their flaws as well -- how Toya's reticence to act led to excruciating suffering for her fellow slaves, how Marie-Claire's marriage with revolutionary leader Jean-Jacques Dessalines was far from perfect. We see how these women navigated their emotions and misgivings, and the complexity of what they sacrificed to make independent Haiti a reality. But despite all this richness, I never got immersed. I struggled to find realness in the novel's dialogue. I felt like each character tried to make every line a memorable quote, something you'd pick to be an epigraph. But that's just not how people speak, no matter the time period. Conversations would sometimes become circular and there were also times characters seemingly contradicted themselves mid-conversation. Conversations are a large portion of the novel and they unfortunately prevented a smooth reading experience. But there's no doubt that this novel is well researched. Riley even includes some notes on how she approached the research at the back of the book, which were fascinating. What struck me was the heavy, ingrained colorism that was not only prevalent in Saint Domingue's day to day, but in the war as well, with Black generals fighting each other. If you are interested in Haitian history, this is still worth a read.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Allison Liu

    I received an Advanced Reader Copy from a giveaway by the publisher. My review are all my opinions. This book was a beautiful narrative of the Haitian fight for independence told from the perspectives of two women who played intricate roles in the fight behind the scenes. Gran Toya is an African warrior sold as a slave, and she serves as an advisor to Jean-Jaqués, whom she also trained to fight. Marie-Claire is a free colored woman, who meets Jean-Jaqués by accident and falls in love. I loved the I received an Advanced Reader Copy from a giveaway by the publisher. My review are all my opinions. This book was a beautiful narrative of the Haitian fight for independence told from the perspectives of two women who played intricate roles in the fight behind the scenes. Gran Toya is an African warrior sold as a slave, and she serves as an advisor to Jean-Jaqués, whom she also trained to fight. Marie-Claire is a free colored woman, who meets Jean-Jaqués by accident and falls in love. I loved the intricate details and the way the book was written in a way to span decades, yet be on cohesive story. It’s obvious this is only a slice of the entire fight, as people, events, and other battles are mentioned, yet there are no gaping holes in understanding the storyline. Even the switching between characters and times works truly well. This book truly made me want to jump in joy and cry at the end. The rich heritage of African tribes, French nobility, and the adapted cultures from the mixes and struggles of colored, black, and mulatto people, both freed and enslaved, are translated through so well. The strict diversions even among colored and Black people are explored throughout the book. The amount of sacrifice, heartbreak, and trauma suffered by all the characters are huge, and the trade off between being personally selfish and selflessly serving the greater cause is a question explored several times, especially by Marie-Claire when she contemplates her romantic relationship with Jean-Jaqués.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lauren | TransportedLFL

    Thank you to Harper Audio for the advanced listener copy. These opinions are my own. From the synopsis: "Acclaimed author of Island Queen Vanessa Riley brings readers a vivid, sweeping novel of the Haitian Revolution based on the true-life stories of two extraordinary women: the first Empress of Haiti, Marie-Claire Bonheur, and Gran Toya, a West African-born warrior who helped lead the rebellion that drove out the French and freed the enslaved people of Haiti." It took me a while to understand the Thank you to Harper Audio for the advanced listener copy. These opinions are my own. From the synopsis: "Acclaimed author of Island Queen Vanessa Riley brings readers a vivid, sweeping novel of the Haitian Revolution based on the true-life stories of two extraordinary women: the first Empress of Haiti, Marie-Claire Bonheur, and Gran Toya, a West African-born warrior who helped lead the rebellion that drove out the French and freed the enslaved people of Haiti." It took me a while to understand the beginning of the book and get to a place where I was immersed in the story. The early parts felt like they were much more about the historical aspect than fiction. However, by the halfway point, I was utterly engrossed. I really appreciated this historical fiction. I had learned a little of Marie-Clare Bonheur from previous books and was eager to learn more. Her life amazes me, and including Gran Toya as well served as an excellent frame for the story. I especially appreciated the notes at the end about the historical record and about Vanessa Riley's quite intentional choice to highlight the role of women in the Haitian revolution. There were two narrators for these two main female protagonists: Adjoa Andoh and Robin Miles. At first, I wishes their voices (particularly for secondary characters) were more distinct. That would have helped with following the changes in perspective early in the book. This is quite a long audiobook, clocking in at almost 19 hours. And the audiobook comes with extra reference material including maps and a full bibliography. Overall, I am so glad to have listened and learned from this book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Robin Klein

    This book was fabulous. Beginning in Africa and then moving to Haiti, the reader is taken on the life journeys of warrior Adbaraya Toya and humanitarian Marie-Claire Bonheur. Though born into differing backgrounds on two different parts of the world, the two women find themselves united in the cause for freedom and justice for everyone, starting with the abolition of enslavement and a system of rights based solely on skin color. The supporting cast includes several men who play key roles in the This book was fabulous. Beginning in Africa and then moving to Haiti, the reader is taken on the life journeys of warrior Adbaraya Toya and humanitarian Marie-Claire Bonheur. Though born into differing backgrounds on two different parts of the world, the two women find themselves united in the cause for freedom and justice for everyone, starting with the abolition of enslavement and a system of rights based solely on skin color. The supporting cast includes several men who play key roles in the revolution, and the strong female relatives of Marie-Claire, who support her and shape her future. The novel takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride of joys and sorrows, and at times graphically describes the terrible consequences of speaking out or not following the master’s rules. The descriptions will make the reader cringe, but they do not fail to evoke strong emotions. At times, I found myself rooting for a different outcome in parts, but that would not be authentic to the times or the traits of the characters. The book does seem long and drawn out at times, but that made me realize how long and hard the fight for freedom truly was. The research process for this book was well done and the Author’s Note adds additional information. I was very glad to have the chance to be educated about this time period, as it was one I knew nothing about.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Judy & Marianne from Long and Short Reviews

    This wonderful novel tells the story of a very successful slave uprising. History often tells us of how men changed the course of events. In a refreshing viewpoint, readers are treated to a life-changing situation through the eyes of two women. Gran Toya, a West African woman, was a warrior. Sadly, she was sold and became a slave. Marie-Claire was a free woman of color who had a good life. They were involved with Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Gran Toya as a mother figure, and Marie Claire as a wife. D This wonderful novel tells the story of a very successful slave uprising. History often tells us of how men changed the course of events. In a refreshing viewpoint, readers are treated to a life-changing situation through the eyes of two women. Gran Toya, a West African woman, was a warrior. Sadly, she was sold and became a slave. Marie-Claire was a free woman of color who had a good life. They were involved with Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Gran Toya as a mother figure, and Marie Claire as a wife. Dessalines was a former slave who became a general and led people to fight against slavery. Eventually the people of Haiti fought their colonizers and won, after decades. The characters are layered and complex and often battle with difficult decisions. Their world is a challenge, and readers can see this through well-written words. Sights, scents, tastes, touch, and sounds come alive in this novel that depicts true events. The author fills in the blanks smoothly, making this an enjoyable story to read. The bonus is learning something about history. Readers will get much from reading this book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Heather Arves

    3.5 stars Thank you to the author and publisher for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! I was very intrigued by the premise of this book as I was familiar with the Haitian Revolution from a college class. I loved the perspective from the women who supported the revolution! I feel that even though this was historical fiction, the characters were captured accurately and the research was very thorough. The multiple first-person points of view were a really captivating way 3.5 stars Thank you to the author and publisher for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! I was very intrigued by the premise of this book as I was familiar with the Haitian Revolution from a college class. I loved the perspective from the women who supported the revolution! I feel that even though this was historical fiction, the characters were captured accurately and the research was very thorough. The multiple first-person points of view were a really captivating way to tell the story. I felt there were some sections of this book that either dragged on or could just be removed altogether. Toya's character also lacked a bit of depth for me but that's likely because there was so little source material about her. I would still recommend this book to others who enjoy the genre and would be interested in learning this history from a women's perspective!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nylorac1984

    Vanessa Riley has done it again, she has brought rich history to life through her excellent story telling.  The story of the Haitian Revolution is told through the eyes of two women. The first woman a Dahomey Warrior and the 2nd  Marie-Claire a free woman of color. This dive into history or rather her-story is incredible. If you recently watched the film, "The Woman King," you will recognize the Minos Warrior's.  Gran Toya 's journey is painful and powerful as any Warrior's would be. Marie-Clair Vanessa Riley has done it again, she has brought rich history to life through her excellent story telling.  The story of the Haitian Revolution is told through the eyes of two women. The first woman a Dahomey Warrior and the 2nd  Marie-Claire a free woman of color. This dive into history or rather her-story is incredible. If you recently watched the film, "The Woman King," you will recognize the Minos Warrior's.  Gran Toya 's journey is painful and powerful as any Warrior's would be. Marie-Claire is standing at the perfect nexus of what it means to have a complicated identity. Marie-Claire is driven to fight a quiet yet determined battle against the forces of hunger, hopelessness and despair. Gran Toya not only inspires revolutionary leaders, but molds the people into a powerful force against the evils of slavery. Riley explores the complexity of freedom,  class, and skin color in this tale. This a vivid look into the past well worth the reading.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Cari Borchert

    The Haitian Revolution is not a piece of history that I'm familiar with so I found this historic novel intriguing. It circles around the slave uprising in the late 1700s and two actual women of this revolution: Toya, a warrior from Africa (think of the women warriors in Black Panther who were actually based on the real life Dahomey Amazons, of which Toya belonged before being enslaved) and Marie Claire, a free born colored woman that ends up marrying the lead revolutionary and future emperor Jea The Haitian Revolution is not a piece of history that I'm familiar with so I found this historic novel intriguing. It circles around the slave uprising in the late 1700s and two actual women of this revolution: Toya, a warrior from Africa (think of the women warriors in Black Panther who were actually based on the real life Dahomey Amazons, of which Toya belonged before being enslaved) and Marie Claire, a free born colored woman that ends up marrying the lead revolutionary and future emperor Jean Jaques, but more notably partook in war and recovery efforts herself, feeding and nursing the poor and war-stricken. The second half of the book felt a little slow for me as it was more focused on the war itself, but I really enjoyed the back story of the main characters as it played out in the first half.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    Sister Mother Warrior is an historical fiction book about the liberation of the slaves in Haiti. It is told from the viewpoint of two woman. One who was a warrior in Africa and was sold to slavers. The other is a free black woman in Haiti who helps to feed the poor. Both women were an integral part of the fight for freedom. Many history books ignore the contributions of women in the struggles for liberation. This story focuses on two of these women. I enjoy reading historical fiction and this was Sister Mother Warrior is an historical fiction book about the liberation of the slaves in Haiti. It is told from the viewpoint of two woman. One who was a warrior in Africa and was sold to slavers. The other is a free black woman in Haiti who helps to feed the poor. Both women were an integral part of the fight for freedom. Many history books ignore the contributions of women in the struggles for liberation. This story focuses on two of these women. I enjoy reading historical fiction and this was a very interesting book. I definitely learn something new every time I read one of these books. This is a book that you will not soon forget. Thank you to #goodreads, @VanessaRiley, and #WmMorrowBooks for a copy of this book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I gave up on this fairly early, but I could see coming back to it someday. I'm interested in the settings--the Dahomey, Haiti. This is a book I would read solely for plot, not character, not style. The young women are presented as stock characters in YA fiction (so are their mothers and their crushes). The sentences don't have any lift. The dialogue has the hyper-serious speechifying quality of a standard action movie. But there's likely to be some detailed battles, superhero style, and silly sex I gave up on this fairly early, but I could see coming back to it someday. I'm interested in the settings--the Dahomey, Haiti. This is a book I would read solely for plot, not character, not style. The young women are presented as stock characters in YA fiction (so are their mothers and their crushes). The sentences don't have any lift. The dialogue has the hyper-serious speechifying quality of a standard action movie. But there's likely to be some detailed battles, superhero style, and silly sex scenes, like in a 1970s Harlequin Romance bodice-ripper, that are fun to snark-read. Maybe someday I'll want a book that requires little attention, unchallenging, predictable, almost comforting for its unwavering adherence to genre.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kate Knight

    This book was a phenomenal experience. The stories of these women is harrowing, frightening and heart breaking. The charectors were developed w wonderful depth that allowed the reader to connect to the history in a meaningful way that inspires curiosity and continued learning. I even love that she has save a place for maps to orient the reader, wrote about how the charectors were developed and what elements were known to be true and how the history has been reported. This grounding in truth seek This book was a phenomenal experience. The stories of these women is harrowing, frightening and heart breaking. The charectors were developed w wonderful depth that allowed the reader to connect to the history in a meaningful way that inspires curiosity and continued learning. I even love that she has save a place for maps to orient the reader, wrote about how the charectors were developed and what elements were known to be true and how the history has been reported. This grounding in truth seeking elevates this story from great to a phenomenal growing experience for any reader. Many many thanks to the Author for this work.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    4.5, rounded up. Compelling historical fiction. The middle parts were the most interesting. I will say, however, that the time jumps, while a year apart, made the flow choppy, especially near the end. It’s as if Dr. Riley was rushing to finish the book. Yet, the ending made the whole book worth it. The whole drama with Marie-Claire’s family could have been developed better, imo. Gran Toya is a BAMF. The Author’s Note is a must-read, which explains there was a ton of information, oftentimes conflic 4.5, rounded up. Compelling historical fiction. The middle parts were the most interesting. I will say, however, that the time jumps, while a year apart, made the flow choppy, especially near the end. It’s as if Dr. Riley was rushing to finish the book. Yet, the ending made the whole book worth it. The whole drama with Marie-Claire’s family could have been developed better, imo. Gran Toya is a BAMF. The Author’s Note is a must-read, which explains there was a ton of information, oftentimes conflicting, that Dr. Riley had to sift through. She also has commentary on colorism, proximity to whiteness, and African rulers' complicity on the slave trade.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...