Wonderful new urban fantasy, of the action/adventure type. An ancient Druid living in Arizona. Irish mythology. Beer. And a irreverent Irish Wolfhound...moreWonderful new urban fantasy, of the action/adventure type. An ancient Druid living in Arizona. Irish mythology. Beer. And a irreverent Irish Wolfhound. What's not to love?
Pretty much, you hit the ground running from the first page and the action and tension continue non-stop until the end.
Dare I say I like Atticus O'Sullivan better than Harry Dresden? But there it is. I do. (less)
Very interesting blend of science fiction, romance, and erotica that plays with perceptions of gender and sexuality. But ultimately, it's a sweet stor...moreVery interesting blend of science fiction, romance, and erotica that plays with perceptions of gender and sexuality. But ultimately, it's a sweet story about how love can change the world for the better.(less)
Excellent blend of magic and science. A strong female character working within the restrictive role of her society, who neither loses any of her stren...moreExcellent blend of magic and science. A strong female character working within the restrictive role of her society, who neither loses any of her strength or her femininity.
Superb, superb book. If you like fantasies with a historical bent, or Renaissance culture, I recommend these books. But start with The Spirit Lens.
Carol Berg's writings never cease to teach me something about crafting exquisite stories. (less)
I have to admit before this review that I am completely biased about this series. I love love love it. It just pushes all my happy reading buttons.
Thi...moreI have to admit before this review that I am completely biased about this series. I love love love it. It just pushes all my happy reading buttons.
This book is no exception. Given that my favorite character is Lord Nightshade, I was a happy squeeing fangirl to glean more information about Kaylin's relationship with him.
And to top it off, we learned more about the past, more about the six months between when Kaylin left Nightshade's fief before she became a Hawk... how she became a hawk... and got to see plenty of the Dragon Lord Tiamaris. Make that a very happy squeeing fangirl.
Unfortunately, I am now dying for the next book. But I do understand that these things take time.
My only complaint was the overuse of the word "grimace." There were places where it occurred several times a page, and that distracted me. (less)
**spoiler alert** Sharon Shinn is one of my favorite authors. She tends to write romantic fantasy and science-fiction. Quite often, her books are abou...more**spoiler alert** Sharon Shinn is one of my favorite authors. She tends to write romantic fantasy and science-fiction. Quite often, her books are about love, though I wouldn't classify them as full-blown romances. She has a beautiful writing style that draws me into her books and keeps me there.
So, I was curious to see how she would write a young-adult fantasy. The short answer is "fabulously". The longer answer is with the same careful details she puts into her "adult" fantasy and science fiction, but in a much more focused and tight package.
It's set in a pre-industrial kingdom, though not quite medieval. It reminds me more of a kind of colonial countryside. In this world, there are Safe-Keepers, Truth-Tellers, and a single Dream-Maker. Safe-Keepers are people to whom anyone can come and unburden a secret. The Safe-Keeper will never tell. Truth-Tellers are people compelled to tell what is true. The knowledge of a truth comes to them, and they are obligated to tell. They do not lie. The Dream-Maker is a person to whom life has been exceedingly cruel. They have personally suffered great tragedy, but others around them find their dreams coming true. The Dream-Maker travels around the kingdom, hoping that the good luck will rub off onto others.
The book, except for the prologue, is told from the point of view of Fiona, the Safe-Keeper's daughter. It chronicles Fiona's youth and her growing into adulthood, surrounded by the people who come together to make up her extended family.
The Safe-Keeper's Secret is a charming story, full of family, heartbreak, and love. The love here is bigger than just romantic love (though that is there too) but the love of friends, of parents and mentors, and of siblings. The interaction and bond between Reed and Fiona, brother and sister in all but blood, is wonderful.
Fiona decides very early that she will be a Safe-Keeper like her mother. But she also grows to love gardening and the earth and is mentored by Elminstra, the neighborhood witch and herbalist. Eventually, Fiona becomes an herbalist herself, as well as the village Safe-Keeper, after her mother. Fiona's biggest challenge in Safe-Keeping is her desire to right the wrongs she hears about. She is not just content to keep secrets... though she does do that too... but starts to solve the problems people bring to her. Some of the secrets she hears are heart-rending, and Shinn does a good job at presenting those hard-to-hear secrets, as well as giving Fiona ways to ease the pain of those who tell them.
The story is partially Reed's too, though seen from the vantage of his sister. Reed wants desperately to know how he fits into the world. He's rumored to be the bastard son of the King, but he doesn't know for sure. Even though he loves his family, he spends much time trying different careers and traveling different places, all in an attempt to discover himself and who he is.
Shinn's writing is artful. I love the way she carves out the details of the world and creates memorable characters. The book partially revolves around the festival of Wintermoon, where Fiona's entire extended family gather to celebrate the holiday, and to make wishes for the coming year. The details of living are believable and you can see such a time and place existing.
Shinn also does a good job at allowing the reader to see a bit more than Fiona. There's a wonderful section of the book where Fiona moons after the boy that all the girls moon after, and though we can see his casual cruelty, Shinn lets Fiona's childish and romantic image of him stay until its the right time for Fiona to realize just what a horrible person he really is.
Fiona also has a complex relationship with her mother's lover: the Truth-Teller Thomas. He tells Fiona as a child that she will not follow in her mother's path and become a Safe-Keeper, and from that moment on, Fiona dislikes and distrusts the Truth-Teller. But as Fiona grows into adulthood, her relationship with Thomas changes, and he remains a beloved part of her family.
Some of the twists and turns the book took I could predict, others I could not. The ending may seem a bit contrived to some people, as it is a "happy ever after" kind of ending, but it's perfect for the tale and completely satisfying.
It's the first of a trilogy, though each book can stand alone.(less)