The Chronicle of Secret Riven: Keeper of Tales Trilogy – Book Two. Ronlyn Domingue. Atria Books. May 2014. 400 pp. hbk. ISBN #: 9781451688917.
A thousand years after the Mapmaker’s war (described in a previous novel by this same author), Secret Riven is born to a historian father and a mother who is able to translate multiple languages. Secret cannot speak for years, a lack that seems to strengthen her talent for telepathically communicating with plants and animals. Her contact with nature is limited at first until her father receives a plush job that enables them to move to a town bordering on multiple forests and groves, filled with animals that are totally unthreatened by Secret. In fact their love for each other as well as respect is obvious on their every meeting.
During these later years her mother’s emotional attacks increase. They seem somehow to be related to her own mother, Zavet, but nothing is ever described to clarify what these attacks are, why they occur and how she can be helped since Secret immediately hides as soon as these horrible episodes occur and her father is almost completely unaware of their occurrence.
Secret does have two very special friends, one Prince Nicholas, the son of the kingdom’s ruler and the other an old woman who lives in the forest. Nicholas accepts Secret exactly as she is, even after she develops a sickness with an extremely high fever and awakens to discover she can translate an old, almost unknown, language. At the same time, her mother dies and Secret believes the two events of illness and death are connected. The old woman in the forest is there for Secret but all of a sudden Secret seems to be reluctant to share all of her thoughts and feelings with her former friend.
The rest of the novel concerns an attempt by a powerful man to “use” Secret’s skills for a secret purpose. The novel is rather vague from this point on, but Secret has several fearful experiences that increase her suspicion that an evil battle is nearing, one she can’t pinpoint but feels in every fiber of her sensitive being!
The Chronicle of Secret Riven…is an interesting read but is rather slow-moving and never seems to provide enough clues to keep the reader’s interest. The development of her special skills is what holds the reader’s attention. More clues and action are needed and hopefully will be provided in the sequel to this novel.