This is an immersive book that readers will find very difficult to put down. Shinn is a master of building fantasy worlds that have multiple layers to them and then populating them with characters that are compelling and unique. Zoe Ardelay is no exception — she’s intelligent, stubborn and clear-headed and she meets her match in the standoffish and slightly mysterious Darien Serlast.
After the death of her beloved father, Zoe Ardelay is dismayed to hear she’s been chosen as the king’s fifth wife. Given no choice, she accompanies the king’s ambassador, Darien Serlast, to the capital city. Then she manages to slip away. Zoe is coru, ruled by the elemental sign of water — she has a mystical affinity for water and blood and it is to the river she goes to build a new life. While there, she discovers that she is a coru prime and as such, cannot marry the king. Instead she has power and influence of her own. The palace teems with deception and as Zoe learns to harness her power, she finds herself at a crossroads. (ACE, Oct., 400 pp., $24.95)