The Shamer’s Daughter, by Lene Kaaberbol, was published in 2004 by Henry Holt (originally published in Danish in 2000).
The Shamer has the power to unmask the soul’s darkest secrets and crimes. A useful gift, indeed, but one that can feel more like a curse. At least Dina thinks so. She has just inherited her mother’s power, only to find that her childhood friends are now her enemies. But when her mother is called to Dunark Castle to uncover the truth about a bloody triple murder, Dina must come to terms with her Shamer’s eyes—or let her mother fall prey to the vicious and revolting dragons of Dunark. And the worse dragon of all is human….
So, apparently this book and its sequels are really popular in Denmark, which is pretty cool. It reminds me of Ruby Red and its popularity in Germany. There’s even apparently a musical about this series, which is a little mind-boggling but also awesome.
The book as it stands is merely okay, however. It’s nothing spectacular. The concept of the Shamer is nice, and the way that it works both ways—it both gives and takes away shame—is interesting. The world is interesting, if not very expansive, at least in this book. It’s a short read, or at least felt that way to me—probably because the entirety of the book is just Dina trying to get away from Dunark—so there’s not that much time to really establish anything, which makes it feel a little thin.
One thing that stood out as utterly incomprehensible to me is why Dina and her mother returned to their village at the end. They fled the city because Drakan (not a significant name at all, why would you think that in a book that has dragons in it?) wants to kill them, and then when they get back to their town there’s this passage about how Drakan’s men came to the cottage and burned it while they were gone. As in, Drakan knows where they live. But then they stay in that same village and build a new cottage as if they didn’t have anything to worry about.
(Went back and read that part again. I realized that it’s possible they moved somewhere else because of some comments Dina makes.)
Also, what happens to Nico is messed-up. And dark.
Recommended Age Range: 12+
Warnings: Violence, death.
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
“Drakan? He was here?”
“Who else? Or did you think I had suddenly taken a violent dislike to my own furniture?”
It seemed that the Chamberlain only now took proper notice of his surroundings.
‘Good God! What a mess!”
“Drakan appears to have been laboring under the misapprehension that I was hiding Mesire Nicodemus among my test tubes.”
“And you aren’t? I mean, not among the test tubes, of course, but somewhere else? Good Master Maunus, do you know where the young lord may be found?”
The Shamer’s Daughter is a short book with a simple plot and as a result feels like it could have used a little more meat on its bones. The concept of the Shamer is interesting and the inclusion of dragons is always cool, but the world wasn’t set up quite enough for me to get a hook for the next book.
You can buy this here: The Shamer’s Daughter (Shamer Chronicles)