Sisters of the Lost Nation by Nick Medina -Book Review
Sisters of the Lost Nation a new horror book review from Ryan Tan
In Sisters of the Lost Nation, Anna searches for her missing sister, Grace. They are members of a Native American tribe called the Takodas. Grace is not the first person to have gone missing; four other women vanished before her. The disappearance of indigenous women is a real issue that the author, Nick Medina, aims to raise awareness for. As he explains in the Author’s Note, indigenous women face murder and assault at a rate higher than, and disproportionate to, the national average. In Grace’s case, she is lucky enough to be found by Anna, but the other women are either missing or dead. In fact, Medina admits, “In the earliest versions of this story, Grace didn’t get to come home. I didn’t think she should because I didn’t think it would be fair. Gone forever is the reality many families face.” Before Grace’s return, however, Anna’s life is far from a blissful one. Besides her sister’s absence, she must also deal with bullies, domestic violence, and an abusive manager at her part-time job.
Sisters of the Lost Nation uses an alternating timeline which I find effective. The chapters either take place before or after Grace is discovered missing. At first, the novel’s structure is slightly disorienting, especially when we do not know much about the characters and their motivations. The first few chapters are like short stories in that they present self-contained pieces of information that do not bear any relation to one another. The more we read, however, the clearer the link between the chapters becomes. Nick Medina skilfully repeats key information mentioned in previous chapters, giving us timely reminders of what we need to know. I would compare the novel’s pacing to a roller coaster over a hill: a slow climb in the beginning as each new piece of information seems to start the story afresh, followed by a dramatic acceleration as the information falls into place like pieces of a puzzle, rushing us towards an ending that we cannot wait to discover.
Given Anna’s conflicts at home, in school, and at work, I would have liked for her to experience more grief and anger. The naked dolls that her bullies tape to her locker are particularly atrocious and I would expect her to react a little more strongly to such cruelty. She does complain to the principal, but his unwilling to take action. And the further bullying that results, do not seem to affect her mental health in the long run. Instead, she recovers by the start of the next chapter, at which point it seems like she has not been bullied at all. I think her resilience is slightly at odds with the scale of her problems, which converge on her from all angles, literally giving her no room to rest.
Still, the short chapters and simple prose make Sisters of the Lost Nation extremely accessible. Nick Medina’s debut novel makes me excited to see what else he has to offer.
Sisters of the Lost Nation by Nick Medina
- Publisher : Berkley – Us (20 April 2023)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 352 pages
Anna Horn is always looking over her shoulder. For the bullies who torment her, for the entitled visitors at the reservation’s casino and for the nameless, disembodied entity that stalks her every step – an ancient tribal myth come to life, one that’s intent on devouring her whole. With strange and sinister happenings occurring around the casino, Anna starts to suspect that not all the horrors on the reservation are old. As girls begin to go missing and the tribe scrambles to find answers, Anna struggles with her place on the rez, desperately searching for the key she’s sure lies in the legends of her tribe’s past. When Anna’s own little sister also disappears, she’ll do anything to bring Grace home. But the demons plaguing the reservation – both old and new – are strong, and sometimes, it’s the stories that never get told that are the most important. In this stunning and timely debut, author Nick Medina spins a tale of life as an outcast, the cost of forgetting tradition, and the courage it takes to become who you were always meant to be.