Deep within a realm of fantasy, a silent girl keeps a secret even she doesn’t know the measure of.
This sequel to Domingue’s The Mapmaker’s War (2013) picks up the tale of a strange kingdom generations after Aoife’s story ended. The characters in Domingue’s Keeper of Tales trilogy are tenuously threaded together not by blood but by unique storytelling talents. In this tale, Evensong Riven, known as Secret, is born to Zavet, a cold and enigmatic mother, who translates manuscripts written in languages all but forgotten. Secret’s father, Bren, a respected historian, uses his skill in telling the tales of the past to help land speculators acquire properties. After her beloved father leaves for work each day, Secret plays alone, listening to Zavet muttering over her work. Mute and painfully lonely, Secret discovers that she can communicate with trees and squirrels; all of nature seems to have stories and visions to share with her. Although her classmates taunt her, Secret finds a few friends, including Auntie, who holds her hand and takes her to children’s shows; Prince Nikolas, who shares some of her adventures; and Old Woman, who cautions Secret that she will have to make a difficult choice someday. When Secret is 12, her mother is asked to translate a manuscript that seems dangerous. Suddenly, Secret falls ill with a fever, awakening to discover that she does, indeed, have a secret of her own. After her mother’s unexpected death, the mysterious manuscript disappears, and the powerful, delightfully named magnate Fewmany takes a peculiar interest in her. Domingue lushly layers Secret’s hopes, dreams and visions. Yet the pace is terribly slow, perhaps in an attempt to match the bewildered Secret’s struggle to make sense of her world.
Secret Riven’s tale will charm patient lovers of fantasy but likely frustrate readers looking for a thrilling adventure.