Thursday, November 3, 2011

Book Review: The Safe-Keeper's Secret by Sharon Shinn

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Author: Sharon Shinn
Publisher: Puffin
Paperback: 240 pages
Series Order: Book 1
Summary: (taken from Shelfari)
Damiana is Safe-Keeper in the small village of Tambleham. Neighbors and strangers alike come one by one, in secret, to tell her things, knowing that Damiana will keep them to herself. One night, a mysterious visitor arrives with an unusual secret— a newborn baby. Damiana names him Reed and raises him side by side with her baby daughter, Fiona. As the years pass and the two children come of age, they must come to terms with who they are—and who they may be. The Safe-Keeper’s Secret is the first of a satisfying, beguiling trilogy.


Overall Rating: 4/5

I have never read any of Sharon Shinn's young adult books before, and I was glad when this one held up to my expectations of her writing. The Safe-Keeper's Secret isn't filled with action and adventure -- there are a few ongoing mysteries throughout the novel, but most would consider this a slow book. However, I read more for the characters than the plot, so I really liked this story.

As always, Shinn has created a brilliant world. It's seems much the same as England in the 1100's, except magic exists and there are certain people who do odd jobs. There are Safe-Keepers who are obligated to listen to people's secrets and keep them, Truth-Tellers who always tell the truth no matter what, and one Dream-Maker, whose mere presence may make a person's deepest wishes come true. I thought this was a unique spin on things and really enjoyed learning about these different jobs and the people who perform them.

Most of all, however, I loved the characters. This book is mainly about life and the relationships that we form throughout our lifetimes. I got to know Damiana, Reed, Fiona, and all the others as if they were my own family and was interested in what they were doing and what their dreams were, even if the action was simple. Also, with Fiona's mother and aunt being Safe-Keepers, and then becoming a Safe-Keeper herself, there is a good bit of intrigue woven in.

Halfway through (if even that far), I figured out what was going to come about at the end, but figuring out the mystery wasn't really the point of the novel, I think. Rather, it's about Fiona coming to terms with who she is as an individual, what she wants to do with her life. This is a lovely story about the meaning of love and family. I highly recommend it.