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Safe-Keeper's Secret Hardcover – May 11, 2004

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 860L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile (May 11, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670059102
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670059102
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,150,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-9–This historical tale is set in what is clearly England in a time that feels like the Norman era. Damiana is a Safe-Keeper, whose job is to listen to the secrets people confide in her and then to keep them to herself. She lives with her daughter, Fiona, and Reed, whom readers are told was a foundling. Others in the village also have special gifts including being a Dream-Maker and a Truth-Teller. The story portrays rural village life with a strong, loving extended family. However, everything changes for the young people when, at 15, they are sent to spend the summer with Damiana's sister. Reed lives with a merchant who gives him some experiences in his trading business while Fiona studies with a herbalist to learn the art of healing. On their return home, they find that their mother is dying. Before she dies, Damiana shares a secret with Fiona that she pledges to keep secret until the time she knows it is right to tell. Fiona takes on the role of Safe-Keeper but finds that this is not her true calling. Shinn writes well and has created a variety of interesting characters. The unraveling of a family secret at the end comes as a complete surprise, but rather than adding to the story, it feels a little like a cheat. Still, this does not detract significantly from the story.–Jane G. Connor, South Carolina State Library, Columbia
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 7-12. When she grows up, Fiona plans to be her village's Safe-Keeper, just like her mother, Damiana, who listens to, but cannot repeat, her neighbors' most troubling stories. Fiona's own family has plenty of secrets: Fiona doesn't know her father's identity, and on the night of her birth, the king's messenger left a mysterious baby with Damiana, asking her to keep and protect the child. The boy, Reed, and Fiona grow up in a bucolic setting as best friends, surrounded by a loving, extended family of magical adults. When Damiana falls ill, Reed and Fiona leave their childhood behind as they care for their mother and make startling discoveries about their respective parents. Shinn, whose fantasy titles for adults have earned her a wide teen following, heavily foreshadows a romance between Reed and Fiona, an element that may disturb some readers, particularly those in blended families. The romance is only hinted at, however, and teens will connect with Shinn's vividly drawn fantasy world as well as her provocative questions about truth, justice, and individual destiny. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

Nevertheless, it is a deeply satisfying story with a very moving conclusion.
Arthur W. Jordin
I liked the variety of characters the author brought to life, and the way they pulled together as a community.
Anne M. Hunter
I think that this is a book worth reading, for young adults and for the young at heart adults.
Hope W. Karney

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Antoine Tardif on July 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
As a huge Sharon Shinn fan I felt compelled to pick up 'The Safe-Keeper's Secret'.
Unlike most of her other novels this book is written with a teenage audience in mind. The writing is simplified, and the story is easy to follow. Regardless the book can be enjoyed by anyone.
The setting is a fantasy world where every town has a safe-keeper, and a truth-teller. Furthermore this world also has a dream-maker.
This is the story of a safe-keeper and her two children. The safe-keeper is a person who can hold on to secrets no matter how horrible they may be. One of her children happens to be a secret, the boy was mysteriously dropped off in the middle of the night, and she raises him as her own.
The rest of the book follows the two children, Reed & Fiona. They discover themselves; learn of what they want to be, & that bloodlines don't truly matter. During this period of time they suffer the loss of a loved one. To reveal more of the plot would be to ruin the story.
While this was an overall good novel, I found it somewhat difficult to become attached to some of the characters earlier on. I would therefore recommend the 'Samalia' books or 'Summer at Castle Auburn' if you're looking to try a Sharon Shinn fantasy.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Arthur W. Jordin on October 26, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Safe-Keeper's Secret (2004) is a standalone fantasy novel. One night, the King's own Safe-Keeper came riding through Tambleham, stopping at the Safe-Keeper's house on the other side. There he left a baby and a secret.

Safe-Keepers exist only to keep secrets, some for just a short while and others for all eternity. Conversely, Truth-Tellers exist only to relate the literal truth. Dream-Makers exist to fulfill wishes through their magic, but cannot control the gift.

In this novel, Elminstra the herb witch comes to the Safe-Keeper's house early the next morning with food and milk. She knocks on the door, calling out to the two sisters, then pushes it open after no one responds. Angeline comes to answer the knocking with a child in each arm, telling Elminstra that the girl is her sister's newborn and the boy has been left in their care.

Angeline is the Safe-Keeper for Lowford. She has come to help deliver the child of her sister Damiana, the Safe-Keeper for Tambleham. Damiana will raise the two children as if they are both her own, although the whole village knows that only one is hers. In fact, everybody else thinks that Reed is the illegitimate son of the King.

Reed and Fiona grow up as if they were twins. They even look alike. But Reed is full of energy, while Fiona is much more sedate. She remains calm even when Reed brings in a snake to show her and even looks for a box to keep it in for a pet. Yet Fiona always goes out to see any new thing that Reed finds in his roaming.

Reed isn't sure what he wants to be, but he is willing to try anything once. Fiona has always known that she will be a Safe-Keeper like her mother and grandmother.
Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Hope W. Karney on October 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I have loved Sharon Shinn's writing since I first picked up her Summers at Castle Auburn, and then quickly moved on to read and love all of her Samira books (I must admit her more sci-fi books, though good, were harder for me to get in to, but that is because I rarely read science fiction). So I was happy to see her write a book for young adults, and was interested to see how she approached it. I find that young adult fantasy books are the most interesting and imaginative. This book was enjoyable, it had the easy flow of the story like in her other books, but written in a simpler way, which did not take from the story at all in my opinion. It has an interesting plot, and though some say it all wrapped up a bit TOO nicely at the end, they are right that it did tie all lose ends together and everyone was happy, but this book was written for younger people, and I think that a happy ending is perfectly acceptable. I was happy for the characters, and smiling when I put the book down, so whether or not the ending was 'too' perfect or not, I grew attached to the characters and cared about them, and that is one of the most important things in story telling if you ask me! There is more, being adopted, I really liked the theme surrounding belonging - I do not want to go to into detail because I am not here to retell the story, it is just that the book focused on what you are instead of who you are, and there were times I re-read a paragraph or two and took her views on belonging to heart, and it was nice. I could relate to the feelings of some of the characters, and I could hear myself saying some of the same things when I was younger, and even at times now. The way Sharon Shinn addressed these issues made me feel good about myself. I think that this is a book worth reading, for young adults and for the young at heart adults.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on October 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In every town there is a safe-keeper. People come from all over to tell their secrets to their safe-keeper and they are not to tell a soul these secrets. One late night the safe-keeper for the king comes to a neighboring town, Tambleham, with a newborn baby for the safe keeper of that town. Damiana is the safe-keeper for Tambleham and she is giving birth to a child at the time that he comes. She decides to raise her daughter (Fiona) and the mysterious boy (Reed) as brother and sister. Damiana get sick when Fiona and Reed are fifteen and then die's. But before she dies she tells Fiona who her dad is and who Reed's family is. Fiona takes the position as the town's safe-keeper which is something she has wanted to do since she was a little girl but she find that is does not suit her. Reed apprentices at many jobs trying to find one that he enjoys. When he does not find a job the he likes, he goes to the palace trying to meet the king and his daughter because he thinks that they might be his family. About five months after Reed went to the palace the king comes to the town looking for his child that his safe-keeper brought to the Tambleham eighteen years ago. During his visit secrets come out that only Damiana knew. This book is by Sharon Shinn. If you are a mystery/ fantasy lover then this book is for you.
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More About the Author

Sharon Shinn is a journalist who works for a trade magazine. Her first novel, The Shapechanger's Wife, was selected by Locus as the best first fantasy novel of 1995. She has won the William C. Crawford Award for Outstanding New Fantasy Writer, and was twice nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. A graduate of Northwestern University, she has lived in the Midwest most of her life.

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