by Sharon Shinn
This is my first book by Shinn and it has been quite a while since I picked up some pure fantasy. I found it at my favorite used bookstore, purchased it by what I saw on the back cover and I am so happy I did! Ahhhh, I was transported to a richly imagined world, life slowed down a bit. This book sucked me in but good. I really didn’t want to go to work and had a hard time pulling myself away from reading. Shinn created a world full of magics, politics, horses, rivers and floods and the book is a lovely coming of age story about a girl finding out about her inheritance and family, understanding herself and finding love.
After the death of her father, a man who used to advise the king but had been living with her in exile, Zoe is whisked away to marry the king as his 5th wife. But once she is makes the journey back to the city, she slips away from her escort and lives with the poor near the banks of the river. Zoe is ruled by the elemental sign of water causing her to bring about change, surprises and flexibility (among other things). Everyone in this world takes after an element and has most of its characteristics. Eventually she realizes she is the prime or head of her family, with the power and wealth that comes with it. This means she has to return to the castle to take up her inherited duties, but not to marry the king.
This is a typical fantasy novel with the slow build of world and character. Zoe is a young, feisty heroine who was not raised to be political and speaks her mind. She shakes things up, which is both exciting and unnerving at times. The characters are well developed, the world lush and the religion well done. The characters are extremely dedicated to their elemental attributes and they speak about it a lot, especially as a justification for their actions. But it works. The romance is no surprise, but it is sweet and rated G though there are some surprises in there. In fact, this book might be YA, it would make sense.
The only thing that I was a little disappointed in was the villain. I thought it was a bit convoluted and diluted, but ok, it worked. I think I might have huffed a bit when the reveal happened, but all in all I totally loved the book. I couldn’t put it down even though life majorly got in my way of reading it all in one sitting. If I could have stayed lost in there, I absolutely would have. I need to find some more of Shinn’s books. 4 stars.