Sunday, September 26, 2010


River Secrets (Books of Bayern, #3) - Shannon Hale
Genre: YA Fantasy
# of pages: 304 (pb)
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Originally reviewed in January, 2010
Razo is baffled when he’s invited to join an elite guard escorting the Bayern ambassador to the country’s enemy, Tira, but his ability to befriend nobles as well as common folk makes him an invaluable asset. Unfortunately, charm alone will not be enough to save the mission when Razo stumbles upon a series of gruesome murders.

I'm always interested to see how female authors write their male MCs...and I really liked how Shannon handled having a male protagonist. (It increased my confidence that I could give it a try, too!)
Razo is an awesome character who emerges from a secondary character (The Goose Girl & Enna Burning) to front-and-center in this third installment of the Bayern series. This book reminded me more of a "whodunit? mystery" suspense story rather than the more traditional magical-fantasy combination of the previous two books, so that was a really cool change of focus. In River Secrets, the main character finds his niche the old-fashioned way: through self-discovery and the embracing of special gifts and talents (albeit non-magical ones). I was intrigued by the idea of a boy not being "Mr. Super Soldier" and therefore relying on skills other than brute strength. He reminded me a lot of David--youngest of many brothers, kinda small and scrawny, uses a sling... I found that interesting. No, though, he doesnt spy on a girl while she's bathing, but his romantic interest was certainly a pleasure to read. She's not as "cool and complicated" as Enna, and she's not as eloquent and leader-like as Isi, but she's still rather enjoyable, if not at times a bit too amiable (she doesn't seem to mind being called a "nit" by the MC, which...I kind of would mind, just a little).

Quick Say: As always, Shannon Hale weaves together a strong tale of magic, intrigue, memorable characters, relevant themes, and a unique story world to create a fascinating clean read that can be enjoyed by all ages. Yes, the Books of Bayern certainly make Imagination in Focus' A-Honor Roll!

Final Grade:
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