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 the children of the village Safe-Keeper Damiana, though Reed isn’t actually her son but a child left on her doorstep as she was giving birth. And they grow up, there are some sorrows in their lives and at the end the big secret of parentage is revealed leaving an opening for the sequel to further explore what happens next.
The world building is interesting, there are Safe-Keepers, Dream-Makers, and Truth-Tellers. All magical positions. Truth-Tellers cannot lie, and often know the truth of things unbidden. Dream-Makers can make wishes come true simply by being around those wishing. The Safe-Keepers keep secrets, all manner of things that people tell them and they will not reveal. And it’s the Safe-Keepers where some of my distaste comes from. In this society they act very much like priests hearing confession, they bear the burdens of those terrible truths that people need to tell and there is no danger that those terrible secrets will be revealed. In order to show just how much a Safe-Keeper will keep a secret it’s revealed that one of the secrets Damiana keeps is that a woman abuses her children, like leaves them bloody and tied to a door abuses them. But she doesn’t tell anyone until that woman is dead. I, obviously, have a lot of issues with this. Especially as it’s presented as a neutral thing, not good not bad, just neutral. Not my favorite.
The other thing is a bit more spoilery and it has to do with the romance that Shinn develops in the story between (highlight to see spoilery text) Fiona and Reed. I don’t like it, and I think it’s gross. I know they aren’t technically blood-related, but even so they were raised as siblings.
As I said, Shinn’s books are generally comfort reads, and aside from those two issues, this one isn’t really that different. I liked it enough to think about picking up the next book in the series, but it’s not my favorite work of hers. I don’t know if that’s really a recommendation or not, but it as you will.