Sister Mother Warrior

Morrow. Jul. 2022. 480p. ISBN 9780063073548. $27.99. F
Riley follows up Island Queen with another sweeping, powerful historical novel based on two remarkable real women. Adbaraya Toya grows up in the West African Kingdom of Dahomey and becomes one of their feared women warriors. In 1758, a betrayal leads to her being sold into slavery and sent to the French colony of Saint-Domingue on Hispaniola (part of present-day Haiti). There she uses her healing and medicinal knowledge to survive and takes a maternal interest in young enslaved orphan Janjak, training him as a warrior in hopes of a better future. As Janjak grows up on Hispaniola, so too does Marie-Claire Bonheur, further south on the island. Marie-Claire, a free Black woman, has complicated relationships with her mother, aunt, and grandmother—all of whom have different experiences as women of color in late 18th-century Saint-Domingue. When Marie-Claire meets Janjak (who will later take the surname Dessalines and become the first ruler of an independent Haiti), their instant and strong bond forms the basis for a lifelong relationship that will be tested by time, distance, and the Haitian Revolution led by Janjak.
VERDICT Riley has written a well-researched gripping novel about an enslaved people gaining freedom, with the emotional connections among the main players as its beating heart.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing