Author : Sharon Shinn
Published By : Viking
Year Published : 2007
Genre / Tags : YA, Historical Fiction, Light Romance, #UnderratedYAReads
Formats : Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audiobook
# of Pages : 342 pages (Hardcover)
When eighteen-year-old heiress Averie Winston travels to faraway Chiarrin, she looks forward to the reunion with her father and her handsome fiancé, Morgan. What she finds is entirely different from what she expected. She realizes that Morgan is not the man she thought he was; and she finds herself inexplicably drawn to another. Handsome Lieutenant Ket Du’kai is like no one Averie has ever met, and she enjoys every moment she spends with him, every delicious flirtation. Averie knows she’s still engaged to another man, but she can’t help but think about Lieutenant Du’kai, and she wonders if he feels the same.
Note : I wrote this review a whopping ten years ago on Goodreads! But I’m surprised at the coherence of it. Fixed up some punctuation and grammar and am presenting it here-
|It’s been a long time since I’ve done a simple pros and cons list. Think I’ll do that here. |
But some important things to mention beforehand- this is a third person-perspective book. YA with a pinch of romance. If you go into it wanting a sprawling romance you’ll be disappointed. This book was poorly marketed and its biggest qualities are not well-clarified in the blurbs and promotion.
I enjoyed this book a lot but there is more that could have been. The ending; however, impressed me enough that I almost feel tempted to tick the “this review contains spoilers” box and just babble endlessly about it and the conflicting emotions it aroused.
Many little details about the unique world (traditions in clothing and religion) were interesting to read about. The romance is less than I expected but Ket Du’Kai, Morgan, and Averie make for a good love triangle. I loved the interactions between Averie and Ket- people coming from such different backgrounds- people who ought to be enemies but have too much fundamental chemistry and fill in each other’s blanks charmingly.
I liked Avery. A bright, positive, endlessly curious and open-minded heroine. Naive but grows by book’s end.
The biggest pro though is that I found the book so readable and happen to identify with Shinn’s viewpoint when it comes to the social commentaries of the book.
I almost forgot to mention Jelessa! A best friend and devoted companion of the main character. She has a few of the best lines in the book. I worried that things were going into the “noble savage” stereotype territory but that isn’t so.
As already established, I liked Ket a lot. He is in an interesting position, left with no advantageous options but to work for the people who took over his country and are expanding their occupation. He feels conflicted emotions at his choice, and even more conflict as he falls for the least convenient person, Averie. I wish there were more delving into his character. (slight con there)
Both Avery and the story at large are hampered by the limitations of she being a girl of “gentle breeding” at a time when girls of her station had little agency.
A good portion of the novel feels small in scope (trapped, really) by her lack of options. It’s a true and understandable state of affairs but leaves the book as a whole.. quiet, except at certain impressive intervals that explode with excitement. But that approach is not entirely a failure and for me, made the ending and more poignant parts of the book more impressive.
But there are things that could have made it more consistently exciting (portions of the book told from Ket’s angle would be nice? Or Avery finding herself in more dangerous positions instead of staying sheltered for so much of the duration of the book?)
I would love to read a sequel if there was one, especially if it strayed from YA. But I doubt there will be one.
Random funny note – I kept trying to picture Ket as actor Sendhil Ramamurthy (from Heroes) but images of another actor, Naveen Andrews, kept popping to mind. Later I visited the author’s site.. she had envisioned Naveen as Ket the whole time!
To add a bit of an afterward to this review, ten years later. I still remember the ending of this book vividly, a decade later. It was just really good and this is probably the most underrated YA novel I can think of. This author mainly wrote adult books and it echoes through the themes of this one- characters that are as far from black and white morality as it gets, and larger yet subtle messaging that is critical of imperialism and encourages self-reflection. It actually saddens me how this book never reached any levels of prominence and has a relatively low average on Goodreads (3.42, not super low, but low for Goodreads and the hype train of YA books in general on there) since it would have made a great movie, has great talking points, and really cements how worthwhile it is to sift through forgotten books and give them a try regardless of popularity.
Overall Rating – 9/10General Winston’s Daughter
Have any of you read other books by Sharon Shinn? I’m very curious about the Samaria series, starting with Archangel. It’s been sitting high on my TBR For years and one of these days I’ll get to it. As always, I welcome your comments and thoughts.