The Truth-Teller’s Tale, by Sharon Shinn (Viking, 2005)

One can tell no secrets. The other can tell no lies. Adele and Eleda may be twin sisters, but they couldn’t be more different where it counts. Adele is a Safe-Keeper, capricious and mysterious, trusted by all to keep their darkest secrets so they can lighten the load on their minds. Eleda is a Truth-Teller, mystically capable of discerning truths without even realizing it, incapable of telling a falsehood even if she wanted. These talents make them both valued and respected, even though they’re still just teenagers. As they grow up, they go through the usual assortment of teenage triumphs and tragedies, learning to both love and lose, always relying on one another no matter how hard it gets. Never far away is their friend Roelynn, who some believe is destined to marry their kingdom’s prince, even though it’s really just the dream of her ambitious merchant father. Pity, then, that Roelynn has a taste for unsuitable men, and a talent for getting in trouble.

Then, when they’re seventeen, a dancing-master and his apprentice come to town, and everyone’s in for a summer of romance, mistaken identities, secrets and truths. But what circumstances could cause a Safe-Keeper to betray a trust, a Truth-Teller to lie, and a Dream-Maker to try and prevent someone’s dream from coming true, and how will that contribute to a happily-ever-after?
I missed out on this book’s predecessor, The Safe-Keeper’s Secret, but rest assured, this book works quite nicely as a stand-alone. It’s a thoroughly entertaining tale, combining fantasy, romance, and just a touch of classic Shakespearian soap opera to look at the eventful lives of a pair of twins with too much, and too little, in common. Shinn’s always been good at weaving romantic elements into her stories, and this book is a great example of her skill. It was a shame when it ended, as I’d grown quite fond of the trustworthy Eleda and her unpredictable twin. I’ll definitely have to go back and find The Safe-Keeper’s Secret now. Be sure to give The Truth-Teller’s Tale a try when it comes out.

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