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

3.8  ·  Rating details ·  4,278 Ratings  ·  285 Reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published May 11th 2004 by Viking Juvenile
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
The Safe-Keeper's Secret is a quiet, thoughtful YA fantasy, set in a medieval kingdom where a few people have magical powers:

• Safe-Keepers guard people's secrets. 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.
• There is one Dream-Maker at a time in this kingdom, a person has the power to gra
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
Jun 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen, fantasy
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 24, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, ya, fantasy
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
Alyssa Nelson
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
Nov 03, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Sharon Shinn is one of my comfort read authors. I don't find her books particularly ground-breaking and they don't make me think too hard but they're comforting to read and I enjoy slipping into the worlds she creates. This one though kind of left a bad taste in my mouth, which is a shame as there were parts I really liked.

The book is really more world building then plot heavy, as nothing much happens beyond two characters growing up and discovering their place in the world. Fiona and Reed are t
Althea Ann
Sep 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Jun 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 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.
Oct 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-sf
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.
A safe keeper keeps any secret told to her or him, until it is time to tell it. A baby is brought to the Safe-Keeper of the village of Tambleham on the very night that she gives birth herself. She raises both as her own, but the boy is rumored to be the bastard son of the king. The girl longs to be a Safe Keeper like her mother. Eventually the truth comes out after the death of the Safe-Keeper when the king comes to claim his rumored son.
I love this quiet magic. There are also Truth Tellers who
3.5 stars

wasn't really any plot in this book, but i more or less liked it all the same

(view spoiler)
The Safe-Keeper's Secret was a very quick but enjoyable read. Not much happened in the story in terms of action, but the day-to-day goings on were quite engrossing. I think this was due to the the likability of the characters. However, my actual rating is probably more of a 3.5 stars, because I would have liked a more developed resolution.
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very domestic based plot that still manages to be very interesting despite the fact that it seems as if hardly anything happens. Or at least the main character doesn't go anyway or seem to do anything crazy or outlandish. Overall, very cute story that is basically a mystery since it is about secrets.
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written, this book explores the secrets of small-town life in a lyrical, fantastical setting. Highly recommended. The ending wraps up a bit too quickly and neatly for my tastes, but that’s just personal preference.
Jennifer Wiser
May 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very intriguing concept with a satisfying storyline. Just an overall warm, fuzzy, fun read!
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
2.5 ratings.
Mar 12, 2017 added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, magic
I accidentally read the third in this series without knowing it was a trilogy so I went back to read the others. This is, for the most part, a pleasant enough journey through the same universe, but I was really put off by the suggestion that Reed & Fiona are into each other, romantically/sexually. This is one of those tropes you see semi-often and it's just now how anything works. Also have to agree with one of the other reviewers that the way Victoria's illness is portrayed is pretty wtf as ...more
Jan 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
I was not expecting to be so caught up in The Safe-Keeper’s Daughter as I was while reading. Looking at the cover, I thought it looked interesting but might ultimately end up being contrived or disappointing or any other number of things to make it less than appealing to me. Starting the first chapter, I thought it seemed interesting but might end up becoming a trudge.

And then I became completely enthralled.

I’m not even sure what it was. Something about the characters, the world, and the conflic
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
Aug 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Apr 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-fantasy
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
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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)
“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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