The Three Sisters by Sonia Halbach

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The Three Sisters by Sonia Halbach was an Advanced Reader Copy from Curiosity Quills Press and will be published on November 2, 2015.  The book falls firmly in the young adult category and is the first in a new series.

I couldn’t finish the book.  Not because it was poorly written or boring but more because I wasn’t in the mood for a Christmas tale when it’s still in the upper 80’s here everyday.  I’ve agreed to post an excerpt from the first chapter because what I read was well written and I love Clement Moore’s famous poem.  As promised, here is the excerpt from the first chapter:

As soon as the carriage came around the street corner, Maggie Ogden glimpsed the snow-powdered sycamore that stood beside the west porch of Chelsea Manor. Strips of its brown and gray patterned bark desperately clung to the trunk as though sensing an impending storm, for even the estate’s distinguished trees knew of the disturbance brought on by the arrival of the holiday season.

“Was it last Christmas when there was too much brandy in the plum pudding?” Clemmie Ogden mumbled while the carriage bumped along the cobblestone road.

“That was two years ago, Clemmie,” corrected Catharine, as she gripped the black lace shawl draped around her porcelain neck. The ends of Catharine’s mouth turned up as she recalled the incident. “Aunt Lucretia had three slices and was giggling all evening.”

Fourteen-year-old Maggie was seated between her older siblings in the back of the carriage. She listened to the hooves trotting up the avenue before adding, “Last Christmas, Grandfather Clement went missing at Jefferson Market. Remember? We couldn’t find him for hours.”

Clemmie snorted. “Grandfather was attempting to escape Aunt Emily’s endless Yuletide cheer. His disappearance was quite intentional, I assure you.”

Before Maggie could respond to her brother, the carriage lurched to a stop in front of their grandfather’s mansion.

Chelsea Manor had been built upon farmland, but by the mid-nineteenth century the city had nearly crept to the mansion’s front stoop. South of the Manor, a brownstone church and seminary campus stood where once had been an apple orchard. Row houses pressed against the borders of the estate while a railroad company laid its tracks along the west end, dividing Chelsea and the banks of the Hudson River.

But Chelsea Manor itself remained untouched, sitting on top of a hill that was supported by high stone walls where New York City’s streets and avenues had been carved out. And inside the Manor was even less affected by the wafting scent of industry and change making its way across Manhattan.

Grandfather Clement had lived in Chelsea Manor all seventy-five years of his life, and he planned to die there, possibly sometime soon. But even though Grandfather Clement had deemed the past year to be his last, Christmas arrived once again to the Manor in 1854, and with it, the entire family. By late December, Grandfather Clement’s five living children, two daughters-in-law, one son-in-law, and seven grandchildren were settled in his mansion for the holidays.

Maggie didn’t mind staying at Chelsea Manor. The tradition was a fairly predictable one. From the moment Maggie walked into the mansion’s foyer, greeted by a handful of servants and chattering relatives, her body seemed to fall into a simple state of holiday routine. Every year the same family members were seen, the same meals were eaten, and the same conversations were had.

As soon as the carriage came around the street corner, Maggie Ogden glimpsed the snow-powdered sycamore that stood beside the west porch of Chelsea Manor. Strips of its brown and gray patterned bark desperately clung to the trunk as though sensing an impending storm, for even the estate’s distinguished trees knew of the disturbance brought on by the arrival of the holiday season.

“Was it last Christmas when there was too much brandy in the plum pudding?” Clemmie Ogden mumbled while the carriage bumped along the cobblestone road.

“That was two years ago, Clemmie,” corrected Catharine, as she gripped the black lace shawl draped around her porcelain neck. The ends of Catharine’s mouth turned up as she recalled the incident. “Aunt Lucretia had three slices and was giggling all evening.”

Fourteen-year-old Maggie was seated between her older siblings in the back of the carriage. She listened to the hooves trotting up the avenue before adding, “Last Christmas, Grandfather Clement went missing at Jefferson Market. Remember? We couldn’t find him for hours.”

Clemmie snorted. “Grandfather was attempting to escape Aunt Emily’s endless Yuletide cheer. His disappearance was quite intentional, I assure you.”

Before Maggie could respond to her brother, the carriage lurched to a stop in front of their grandfather’s mansion.

Chelsea Manor had been built upon farmland, but by the mid-nineteenth century the city had nearly crept to the mansion’s front stoop. South of the Manor, a brownstone church and seminary campus stood where once had been an apple orchard. Row houses pressed against the borders of the estate while a railroad company laid its tracks along the west end, dividing Chelsea and the banks of the Hudson River.

But Chelsea Manor itself remained untouched, sitting on top of a hill that was supported by high stone walls where New York City’s streets and avenues had been carved out. And inside the Manor was even less affected by the wafting scent of industry and change making its way across Manhattan.

Grandfather Clement had lived in Chelsea Manor all seventy-five years of his life, and he planned to die there, possibly sometime soon. But even though Grandfather Clement had deemed the past year to be his last, Christmas arrived once again to the Manor in 1854, and with it, the entire family. By late December, Grandfather Clement’s five living children, two daughters-in-law, one son-in-law, and seven grandchildren were settled in his mansion for the holidays.

Maggie didn’t mind staying at Chelsea Manor. The tradition was a fairly predictable one. From the moment Maggie walked into the mansion’s foyer, greeted by a handful of servants and chattering relatives, her body seemed to fall into a simple state of holiday routine. Every year the same family members were seen, the same meals were eaten, and the same conversations were had.

If I go back and finish the book before the holiday season ends, then I will update this posting to reflect my review and opinion accordingly. 

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