Book Review: Quatrain by Sharon Shinn
by Tiff Sweeney
With the start of the new year, I have resolved to read the many books I have picked up from the multitude of local authors’ events I attended in 2011. Perusing my stack, I landed on my next read, Quatrain by Sharon Shinn, a local author whom I was introduced to at A Night with Women’s Fiction.
Quatrain is a collection of four short stories by Shinn, serving as an introduction to many of her fantasy novels and series that she writes in her spare time.
In the first story, “Flight,” we follow Salome, a previous angel-seeker now working the land and raising her niece, Sheba. Her unmentionable past quickly comes to the forefront when her previous angel lovers return to her life, putting Sheba on a path Salome will do anything to help her avoid.
The second short, Shinn’s personal favorite, takes us to a completely different world filled with guldmen and indigos. Kerk, the former, moves to the city from his birth home in Gold Mountain. At a young age, Kerk lost both of his parents, his father to death and his mother to abandonment. When he arrives in the city, Kerk begins the search for his mother, discovering the underground world of guldmen escapees, a view of the world that he has never known before, and friendship in Jalci, an indigo woman that comes from a completely different world.
“Gold” takes us to another fantasy world, featuring Princess Zara escaping to the land of Alora as war approaches her homeland. Alora is a land rumored to never let humans leave, alluring them into a life of peace and harmony. Zara may be escaping the dangers of war, but she is also entering into the possibility of another – forgetting everything she has ever known and living happily ever after.
The final story in the collection takes us on the journey of a powerful mystic of fire, Senneth. She has conveniently stopped for a visit at a friend’s home when she is called upon to help in destroying homes contaminated by a deadly fever. She is convinced to stay awhile for a bit of rest and socialization, resulting in an unplanned journey to assist her newfound friends, but ultimately lands her in a bit of trouble.
Although this was my first exposure to Shinn, I fell easily into her fantasies, leaving me wanting more–more of her strange, yet familiar characters; more of her diverse worlds riddled with racial divides and filled with peace.
Shinn’s favorite is “Blood,” however, for me, I have a hard time just picking one. I would love to learn more about the aliora of Alora, living peacefully within their enchanted forests and wall-less homes. Yet, I would also like to step on the dirty streets of the city with Kerk and watch a game of baltreck among young guldmen. Then again, maybe I would prefer to experience the blasting wind of the angel city far above the reach of any human or witness the power of Senneth as she distinguishes a wildfire. Each of these worlds and the corresponding tales hooked me, allowing me to escape and fall in love with each one for different reasons.
This compilation of shorts has me desiring to dive into one of her many novels. The question that remains is which one to begin with.
For more information on Shinn and her work, you can visit her website. Don’t forget to also visit A Night with Women’s Fiction to also read more about Shinn and other local women’s fiction favorites, Susan McBride and Judy Merrill Larsen.