From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up -Teen readers will be captivated by this medieval tale. Eleda and Adele, mirror twins, discover that they are a Truth-Teller and a Safe-Keeper, respectively. Truth-Tellers are incapable of telling lies and recognize when others are lying, so society relies on their unwavering trustworthiness. Safe-Keepers cannot reveal what is told to them in confidence, and they bear the burden of people's confessions. The sisters do not realize the ramifications of their gifts until their teen years, when romantic and political intrigue abounds, and situations become more adult. Their friend Roelynn, whose wealthy merchant father intends to marry her off to the prince, sows plenty of wild oats behind her father's back. She often drags the sisters into the fray, and the summer they are all 17, a chain of events is set into motion that changes their lives. Astute readers may predict the ending, but they will enjoy it nonetheless. Though at its base the story is in some ways a stereotypical teen romance, the author's use of language and her writing style elevate this novel. Shinn has a beautiful turn of phrase and a knack for writing a sentence that will stop readers in their tracks. The plot is episodic-incidents generally revolve around the town celebrations of either Wintermoon or Summermoon-but these festivals provide a reason for various characters to come and go from the inn that the girls' parents run. Fans of romances or mystical stories will revel in this offering.-Cheri Dobbs, Detroit Country Day Middle School, Beverly Hills, MI
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*Starred Review* Gr. 7-10. Eleda sees the world in "all sharp edges and simple lines": she is a Truth-Teller, and she cannot speak a lie or hear one spoken. Her twin, Adele, whose name is a palindrome of Eleda's, is a Safe-Keeper, a listener who never betrays a confidence. Two halves of a whole, the sisters occasionally infuriate each other but frequently find that their complementary gifts prove useful--particularly as they stumble through adolescence, experiencing love and heartache, and sharing everything with their high-spirited friend, Roellyn. The novel's first half follows the girls from early childhood to their teens; the second half focuses on their seventeenth summer, when the arrival of two handsome strangers occasions both swooning romance and enough wild confusion to rival Shakespeare's most outrageous comedies. The rules governing the Truth-Telling and Safe-Keeping gifts sometimes feel too conveniently flexible, and Eleda--a slightly rigid personality, as befitting her Truth-Telling role--may appeal to readers less than her sister and the vivacious Roellyn. But the comforting, fairy-tale rhythms of the girls' stories exert an irresistible pull, and Shinn's numerous fans will welcome a second helping of the refreshing tale spinning and charmingly homespun, village-centered fantasy culture that marked The Safe-Keeper's Secret
[BKL Ap 15 04]. Jennifer MattsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved