Book Reviews

Review: Vial of Tears by Cristin Bishara

I love this idea of not only a story about sisters, but also being thrown into the Underworld. Vial of Tears is nonstop action from the very beginning. If you are intrigued by this idea, a story about sacrifice, then you need to check this one out. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


Sixteen-year-old sisters Samira and Rima aren’t exactly living the dream. Instead, they live with their maddeningly unreliable mother in a rundown trailer in Michigan. Dad’s dead, money’s tight, and Mom disappears for days at a time. So when Sam’s grandfather wills her the family valuables–a cache of Lebanese antiquities–she’s desperate enough to try pawning them before Mom can.

But she shouldn’t. Because one is cursed, forbidden, the burial coin of a forgotten god. Disturbing it condemns her and Rima to the Phoenician underworld, a place of wicked cities, burning cedar forests, poisoned feasts of milk and lemons, and an endless, windless ocean.

Nothing is what it seems. No one is who they say. And down here, the night never ends.

To get home–and keep her sister safe–Sam will have to outwit beautiful shapeshifters, pose as a royal bride, sail the darkest sea… and maybe kill the god of death himself.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

One of my favorite elements of Vial of Tears has to be this mix of ancient and modern. We don’t spend that much time with Sam before she is whisked off to the Underworld. But throughout the story, this mix of modern notions of love and family, consistently come into conflict and conversation with the Phoenician Underworld. My other favorite element had to be the action and intrigue. As I said, Vial of Tears feels like constant action.

It’s easy to get swept away in wondering if Sam and Rima are going to be reunited. If they can survive this new setting and challenges. Seeing the world from Sam’s perspective, we can feel her fear and uncertainty. It means that this thread of wonder and dread in the pit of your stomach, pulls you through Vial of Tears. Additionally, it’s a story of a fractured family and an ancient secret. While I wanted to keep reading, I wished that there had been more emphasis on the family/sister aspect.

The sister relationship was one of my main draws to Vial of Tears. And while that was a central motivation in the story, I wish there had been more interactions and experiences together. While I understand the action, maybe if there had been more memories or flashbacks? I just wanted to fall in love with both Sam and Rima. At the end, I felt like I barely knew Rima and I just wanted to root for her the whole time. Additionally, I wish there had been more with her mother. Even though there was a bit more of her family secrets towards the end, I just felt like it was an element that needed a bit more.

That being said, I did enjoy Vial of Tears. It’s a truly unique book with its premise and action. I felt thoroughly transported to somewhere entirely new not only to me, but also to the other YA fantasy books. I think my main problem might have been my expectations. Vial of Tears is a YA fantasy adventure that examines our responsibilities and sacrifices. If you love the premise, then this is a must read! Find Vial of Tears on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


What is the most unique fantasy you’ve read?

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