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Safe-Keeper's Secret Hardcover – May 11, 2004
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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.
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
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Top customer reviews
I look forward to reading the other books in this series, and anything else Ms. Shinn writes. Sure, I'd rather have adult novels from her existing series, but the occasional young adult book is a nice change of pace.
Damiana is a secret-keeper, she keeps those secrets others need to share but can not or will not reveal. She does not reveal their deepest secrets. As she is bearing her own child, the secret-keeper of the king arrives with a baby and asks her to take the child and keep it safe. She agrees and he is later found dead by his own hand in the forest.
The safe-keeper keeps secrets, the truth-teller tells only the truth, and the dream-master gives shape to the hopes of others. These three have great influence on the many people who live in this land.
Damiana raises the child as one of her own. They live in Tambleham, a village far from the courts of the king. Reed and Fiona live a simple life, each seeking his place in the world. Fiona wants to be a secret-keeper like her mother and Reed wishes to travel and find his place.
I found the story delightful, the setting rural and peaceful, and the characters intriging. This was a wonderful read and you will not be sorry you took a chance and read it.
It is more of a young adult book and that is fine, but it wasn't what I was hoping for (ok to be honest I really want more Angel series of 12 house series LOL) but it was very nice non the less.
Good for early teens. Well written and interesting.