Hi friends! I was asked by the author of this book to read it and give an honest review. This book has already been published, so you can read it now if you’re interested! Although I know the author, all thoughts and feedback are my own.
Synopsis & Quick Thoughts
The Black Sisterhood Files is Kristina Naydonova’s debut novel which follows a group of crime stopping high school girls. Lexie Torres has just moved to Parkersburg, West Virginia, when she meets a group of girls who make up the Black Sisterhood, who often help the police solve various crimes. When the town becomes plagued by a cloaked murderer, Lexie and the Black Sisterhood must come together to solve the mystery before the crimes continue.
First off, Kristina wrote this books when she was twelve. I barely remember what I was doing when I was twelve, but it certainly wasn’t that. I’m incredibly impressed with her ability to write a full developed novel with intricate details and twists that kept me intrigued (I read it in a day, after all!). Of course this novel isn’t perfect, but there’s so much potential here and Kristina will definitely move forward as an author to watch.
The greatest positive of The Black Sisterhood Files is the promise that it shows for Kristina as an author, by far. Although I do keep my reviews honest no matter the age or writing experience of the author, I want to be clear that I am invested in following Naydonova’s writing journey and plan to read her future works as well. While I could go on about the potential this novel shows, I want to consider the work on its own, separated from the author for the time being.
This book was an action-packed, super fast read for me. I enjoyed having a quick and fast-paced novel right now, especially after the pacing issues in my pervious read. I don’t think there was a single slow page in the entire novel, which in an impressive feat. While this book is definitely plot-driven and the characters aren’t deeply developed, I did enjoy their friendship and relationships with one another. I’ll explain my issues with the writing later, but I think the dialogue between the teenage characters was very accurately worded and well-written.
This book felt very nostalgic for me, which was a feeling I wasn’t expecting to get while reading. As a kid, I owned every book in the Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley series and reading this novel gave me vibes of a middle-grade version of those. The Black Sisterhood Files doesn’t shy away from violence or dark themes, but I know that fifth-grade me would have eaten this book up. I think if Naydonova were to market this novel (which I can absolutely see as having series potential) as middle-grade rather than young adult – despite the violence – it could be really successful.
My two largest issues with this novel are the writing style and believability – both of which one can attribute to her age while writing (and again, may not be as big of a deal to a younger reader with less reading experience or knowledge of realistic events). I don’t want to tear this book apart of course, since it was a fun read by a young author, but I write this with the hope that Kristina may be reading and I’d like to provide as much constructive criticism as possible.
I’ll start with writing style as it was the less condemning of the two. Put shortly, it’s easy to guess the writer’s age from her prose. The main culprit of this was the use of large words in otherwise plain descriptions or dialogue, which often makes it seem like the writer initially had a more simple sentence and chose a certain word to swap out using a thesaurus. This results in clunky descriptions and a disruption of flow when I had to look up words that even I didn’t know. In some cases, the synonymous words didn’t have the same meaning as the initial word I expect was used. It was also clear that the author was uncomfortable and unfamiliar with writing dialogue for the adults in the book. To solve these problems, I think this book could have greatly benefitted from an editor or proofreader. There were a number of cases of missed punctuation, small grammatical or word choice errors, or, most confusing of all, two cases in which names of secondary characters were changed mid-plot, that could have been easily fixed. These are minor errors that will most certainly change and dissipate with time.
The main issue I take with this novel is a lack of development and believability with the plot. The first element that I think could be fixed is the lack of backstory or origin of The Black Sisterhood, because their relationship to the police and the community is confusing; at times it seems that they work together, at others they appear to be more of a vigilante group. More explanation could add greater insight into these issues and help develop the story more. Further, the author seemingly doesn’t have a lot of experience or knowledge on the topics of the book. Now, I wouldn’t expect a twelve year old to have an intimate knowledge of criminal investigations, but things like news shows airing live interrogations, young girls disturbing crime scenes and sitting in on interviews, the police being incapable to function without the command of a fifteen year old, and the protagonists’ parents reaction to their daughter’s disappearance, are all misinformed and poorly executed. Things like the ending being so neat and happy, and fifteen year old girls having access to and being incredibly skilled in using knives and guns without practice, are unrealistic and ruin the suspension of disbelief needed for this story. I believe these things could be assuaged with proper development and descriptions, and the use of an editor could be helpful here as well to help add and clarify information that a twelve-year old author might be fuzzy on.
Rating & Final Thoughts
Kristina Naydonova has so much potential it’s insane. Looking at the work she’s written so far, I can’t wait to follow her journey and read her future works. While I rate The Black Sisterhood Files 2.5 out of 5 stars, it’s an impressive start to her career and would implore everyone to keep an eye on her and pick up her next release. This novel isn’t bad by any means, but a lack of experience in both age and previous writings is noticeable and will absolutely better in time.
Buy The Black Sisterhood Files by Kristina Naydonova here.*
*as a reminder, I am an Amazon affiliate and make a small commission off of purchases made using my link.