The Shamer’s Daughter
By Lene Kaaberbol
This was a good little book although it was a bit on the young side of YA for me. In an unrelated note, it’s actually really interesting how young the main character was. The main character, Dina, is old enough to be well into the age of reason but nowhere near pubescent so there’s absolutely no romantic plotline. I appreciated that.
I also hadn’t realized this book was the first part in a series so I thought the ending was particularly interesting as it resolved the immediate problem while leaving a much larger problem still there. While I now know that it was setting up for a sequel, at the first read, I assumed it was an aspect of Dina being young and focused on the immediate situation.
Over all, the book reminded me a lot of Sharon Shinn’s series with The Safe-Keeper’s Secret, The Truth-Teller’s Tale, and The Dream-Maker’s Magic. Like those books, The Shamer’s Daughter is set in a world in which some people are born with semi-magical talents that give them careers even as it sets them apart from society at large.
Dina, the titular Shamer’s daughter, has inherited her mother’s skill of being able to see (and force others to see) everything that they are ashamed of by looking into their eyes. No one really wants a Shamer as a neighbor, but they have a social role in identifying criminals.
As one might expect, when a crime involves the death of the ruling family of a kingdom and competing heirs to the throne, being a Shamer who can actually see the truth is a bit fraught. Especially since the ability is built on shame and thus doesn’t work on people who don’t feel shame.
While this book simplifies the world and the complexities of people’s emotions in general, it still does a really good job of presenting some very clear answers to traditionally complex questions about guilt and responsibility and the strength to do what’s right.
Also, apparently there’s a movie, but it doesn’t look good.