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The Safe-Keeper's Secret (Safe-Keepers #1)

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  3,656 ratings  ·  246 reviews
"The most promising and original writer of fantasy to come along since Robin McKinley."—Peter S. Beagle, best-selling author of The Last Unicorn. Damiana is safe-keeper in the small village of Tambleham. Neighbors and strangers alike come one by one, in secret, to tell her things they dare not share with anyone else, knowing that Damiana will keep then to herself. One late ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published November 3rd 2005 by Firebird (first published May 11th 2004)
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Community Reviews

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This is a mixed review, and I don't know what number of stars to give this book. Normally, I just wouldn't review it in those circumstances, but this time, the issue is too important for me not to talk about it in public.


This is a beautifully written book, with wonderful characters, in a series that I otherwise adored. (The Truth-Teller's Tale is one of my very favorite books this year!) 10 pages into reading this one, I was in a Happy Book Daze.

….Until the first introduction of a character w
Tadiana ✩ Night Owl☽
A quiet little YA fantasy set in a medieval kingdom where a few people have magical powers: Safe-Keepers guard people's secrets (though frankly I'm still a little hazy on why you need an official secret-keeper, but apparently some people in this world find it very useful). Truth-Tellers always tell the truth--sometimes without even knowing how they know a particular fact to be true. And there is one Dream-Maker in the kingdom, a person who's had deep sorrow in her own life, but has the power to ...more
Damiana is a safe-keeper. The people in her village can come to her and trust her with their secrets and unburden their hearts with the safety of knowing that she will never gossip or tell what they have told her. She lives with her daughter Fiona, and her foster-son Reed, brought to her door by a king's messenger the night Fiona was born. Fiona plans to be a safe-keeper like her mother, while Reed finds that his interests lie in apprenticing with a merchant in the next town over. When Damaiana ...more
Sep 08, 2008 Erin rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fantasy fans who also like realistic fiction
I read this when it first came out, and went back to re-read, since I recently discovered that there are more in this series. I was reminded of what a lovely, warm writer Sharon Shinn is, though not in a totally wish-fulfillment kind of way, because in many ways this is a book about coping with sadness, anger, and loss.
I really enjoyed this book, and I am actually quite surprised at that fact. There are several elements in this book that I typically despise in other novels, but for some reason, this time it didn't bother me.

For one, nothing much really happened. It starts off with a baby being secreted away to the house of a Safe-keeper who happens to be giving birth to her own child. The two children (Reed & Fiona) grow up together as brother and sister, and the story follows them at age 10 and again from
Safe-Keepers can be trusted to never reveal a secret. So it's no surprise that when a royal bastard needs to be hidden, a Safe-Keeper would be the logical place to hide the child. When the royal messenger who left the infant in the dark of night with the Safe-Keeper is found dead by his own hand a few miles away, the secret that the baby boy who was left behind becomes more of an open secret. The Safe-Keeper decides to raise the child with her own daughter who was born that night. But what happe ...more
Nov 11, 2008 Nichole rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Nichole by: Book Club
This was my first read by Sharon Shinn, so I did not know what to expect. Overall, I enjoyed the premise of the story as well as Shinn’s writing style. It intrigued me how the story progressed introducing new characters and finding out how everyone is interconnected to each other. Most especially, the relationship between Fiona and her (non)brother, Reed, tugged at my heartstrings. Ultimately, unfortunately, I was disappointed with the ending; I felt as though it was too clean: everyone was happ ...more
Alyssa Archambo
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 e
Althea Ann
Highly recommended for anyone who loves mythic fiction and fairy tales. Like many books in this genre, this was marketed as YA, but is really a book for all ages - at no point did I feel that it was 'juvenile' in any way, although it does have a definite 'coming-of-age' theme.

Set in a rural (English? Medieval?) village, it posits a world where each village has a Safe-Keeper and a Truth-Teller, and somewhere, in the world, there is a Dream-Maker.
Fiona's mother is a Safe-Keeper - a person whom ev
I love fantasy, can't explain why, just do. What I really liked about this fantasy novel was how different it was. It wasn't a book about sword fights or magical creatures. It was a book about people who were very real and believeable. To me the fantasy world that Sharon Shinn created was so believeable that it felt like it could be in a different time and place and have been real. I also have to admit I love books and movies with twists. I felt like her twist was on parr with M. Night Shyamalan ...more
I think Sharon Shinn may be my new favourite author! I loved the gentle, sweet mood of this, all the homely things she describes, and the meals shared with family and friends. I also found the idea of a safe-keeper, a truth-teller and a dream-maker intriguing and original. The way the story spans a number of years (as it does in Summers at Castle Auburn, too) makes you feel as though you've really grown and journeyed with the characters, despite the book itself being fairly short in length.
Elizabeth C.
Shinn spins a tale of village life and folk magic that could take place in the next village over from Shearing. Fiona and Reed are raised together in the household of their village’s enchanted Safe-Keeper, or secret keeper, who conceals the biggest secret of all from the children—their true identities. Grab a cup of tea and curl up by the fire with this sweet fantasy, the first in a trilogy.

Why? For village-centered drama in a world shaped by old magics.
I’ll start this review off by first saying that I’m a fan of Sharon Shinn’s writing. So, bear in mind that a three out of five for me is on the low end when it comes to one of her books especially since I was disappointed with a lot of things that happened in the book.

Now, you may be asking, why did you give it a three and not a two then? Well, because I generally like how it was written as far as description, dialogue, character interaction, and the setting Sharon Shinn provides. It is a well d
I'm so glad the Safe-Keepers trilogy exists! They are exactly the sort of books I want to have on the shelf when I have kids -- frank about sex without being obsessed with it, full of love of every kind, and rich with stories of the ways people come to be family. The world-building, the magic, and the plot twists are great fun, too, and the characters seem like friends of friends (if only you could figure out how to go visit them).
I read this, to take a break from the crushing depression of the Russian novel I am in the midst of, thinking a quick young adult title would give me a breather. I pretty much cried my way through the whole middle part. My favorite kind of fairy tale.
Setting/World Building: 5/5
Main Character: 4/5
Other Characters: 5/5
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Triggering/Issues: 4/5 (Some disturbing mentions of rape.)

AVERAGED TOTAL: 4.3/5, rounded to 4.

I really liked most of this book. It takes place in a relatively generic fantasy world, but with the addition of three magical types of people: Secret-Keepers, Truth-Tellers, and a Dream-Maker. There is a Secret Keeper in every village, who the people go to and tell their secrets. There are Truth-Tellers, who alway
Sometimes Sharon Shinn takes a bit of time to set up her stories, but The Safe-Keeper's Secret has you enveloped in her poetic writing as immediately as the beautiful story begins. Truths, secrets and dreams are intertwined throughout the tale--some are welcome while others are not. The secrets begin when a child is brought to a secret keeper who has just given birth to a child of her own and the father of the surprise child is the first of many. Raised as brother and sister, these two children, ...more

3 stars

A Safe-Keeper, forbidden to tell the secrets she receives, is handed a baby just as her sister Safe-Keeper gives birth. Rumor has it the child is the king's, but the children are raised as brother and sister, each trying to find its destiny.

This is a pleasant, nicely written new fairy tale, with likeable characters and a smoothly drawn environment. It's a fun read, for the most part. Unfortunately, as is often true with Shinn, the story is heavily wrapped in tradit
This book was a little slow. I enjoyed that it was slow and it took it's time, but because of that, I felt there was a strong contrast with the ending.

The book was slightly predictable and the ending was pulled together way too fast. I remember looking at the 20ish pages I had left and thinking, "How in the world is she going to wrap up this story with so few pages left?" I assumed that I would probably have to go to the second book in the series to figure out what happened.

Not the case. The b
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I really like the premise for this book and the types of characters that inhabit it. First you have "Safe-Keepers:" a person in a village who keeps everyone's secrets. Then there is a "Truth-Teller" who is bound to tell the truth for good or ill. One person in a generation is a "Dream-Maker," a person who causes dreams to come true and luck to people she encounters, though she has no control over this power and it comes with terrible misfortune and sacrifice on her part.

So in this particular sto
Lady Jaye
Sharon Shinn's stories are not flashy at all, but they are very memorable, and this one is no different. The story kicks off one night when a baby is brought to the house of the safe-keeper, who is herself in labor. The baby is the King's Bastard, and is brought to the safe-keeper because the safe-keeper can listen to and keep any secret. And so the two children, Reed (rumored King's Bastard, for the safe-keeper does not say) and Fiona.

The rest of the story is more about the coming of age of Re
I liked the different...I don't know, "roles"? in this author's world. The Truth-Tellers, Safe-Keepers, and Dream-Maker make for an interesting story. I appreciated being able to follow Fiona and Reed as they grew up and the story unfolded around them.

The story reminds me of books by other authors I've has the same whimsical feeling as a lot of Patricia McKillip's books, or Chalice by Robin McKinley. There is a dreamy fairy-tale quality to it, but it although there are some fairy-ta
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

As the blurb on the back says, this is a "fantasy novel centered on domestic life that fans of Robin McKinley's Beauty will enjoy", which I found absolutely accurate. In many ways the tone was very similar to Beauty, focusing on Fiona as she grows up. Initially Fiona and her brother Reed's arrival into the world is shrouded in mystery - one baby is born to Damiana, by a father she will not name. The other is delivered to her doorstep by the Safe-Keeper to the King who s
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
a medeival time... with some special people... the Safe-Keeper (who keeps secrets), the Truth Teller (who can only tell the truth, and helps to settle disputes), and the Dream-Maker (whose personal life is tough, but wherever she travels, good dreams happen).

Fiona is the central character - growing up in a Safe-Keeper's home... on the night of the Safe-Keeper's delivery of her own child, another is delivered by the King's Safe-Keeper...and Fiona and Reed are raised together...

Fiona believes she
This book has a medieval setting with four types of people: ordinary people like you and me (which includes peasants and royalty alike), Safe-Keepers, Truth-Tellers, and one single Dream-Maker. Almost every town has one Safe-Keeper, and one Truth-Teller. The Safe-Keeper is someone to whom you can take all your deepest and darkest secrets you feel can't be kept inside anymore, and feel safe that no one else will ever be told. A Truth-teller is not usually a very popular person because he proclaim ...more
Eden Celeste
This was an easy to read, decently paced book centered around a young woman's coming of age story. I liked the world the author created. It is well thought out, interesting and not a typical fantasy setting. Along with the normal blacksmiths and tavern keepers, there are also a few specialized jobs that border on the magical. These include "Truth Tellers" - a few individuals who magically know truths that they then tell, "Safe Keepers" - people who hold others secrets (sort of a specialized coun ...more
Lisa  (Bookworm Lisa)
Fiona and Reed grow up as the children of the safe keeper. One of them is her biological child and the other was brought to her on the eve of her childs birth, with the admonition to keep the parantage of the child secret.

The safe keeper is the keeper of secrets. All who have a secret that they are burdened with, know that they can come to the safe keeper and share the burden, and it will be kept until the time comes for it to be made public. Some secrets never are known to any, but the safe kee
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I’ve been writing stories and poems since I was eight years old. My first poem was about Halloween: "What is tonight? What is tonight?/Try to guess and you’ll guess right." Perhaps this inauspicious beginning explains why it took me till I was in my thirties to sell a novel. It occurred to me early on that it might take some time and a lot of tries before I was able to publish any of my creative w ...more
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Other Books in the Series

Safe-Keepers (3 books)
  • The Truth-Teller's Tale (Safe-Keepers, #2)
  • The Dream-Maker's Magic (Safe-Keepers, #3)
Summers at Castle Auburn Archangel (Samaria, #1) Mystic and Rider (Twelve Houses, #1) Troubled Waters (Elemental Blessings, #1) Jovah's Angel (Samaria, #2)

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“A truth comes out when it must;
A dream comes true when it will.
Though the world turn to ash and dust
A secret’s a secret still.”
“She was smiling as she leaned toward Reed, who stooped down to put his lips against her ear. He would tell her that he wanted to travel to Merendon, or Marring Cross or Cranfield, someplace far away and exotic. He was the sort of man whose wish altered every year.

He said in a voice that only she could hear: "I wish you were not my sister."

She pulled back and stared up at him. He smiled, his face just faintly touched with sadness, and tossed his true-love into the fire.”
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