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Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn

Review by Caleyna

Sharon Shinn is a sci-fi author dabbling in fantasy with her Summers at Castle Auburn. I've heard she is supposed to be great at sci-fi, winning several accolades from various sci-fi groups, writers and various other experts. I hoped this meant that Summers would introduce me to a great author who could eventually introduce me to more sci-fi.


If Shinn's sci-fi books are anything like Summers I don't know what all the buzz is about. It wasn't a bad book, per se, but it was pulp drivel that doesn't stand out and shout "different" or "good" or "original". It is just a teenage fluff romance story that is not really compelling or even fun to read.

Corie, the narrator of the story, is a very typical teenage girl who just happens to be the bastard daughter of a nobleman. The problem with Corie is that she is just too typical--for an American high school student who is only concerned with boys and getting her own way. She and the world she lives in just are not believable in a fantasy setting. Shinn has taken the modern and sent it into the past, creating something that comes across as flat, unrealistic, and worse, uninteresting.

The story revolves around Corie's adventures at the king's castle each summer. It is unfortunate that the "adventures" are fairly trite and boring, not offering any real suspense for the reader.

There are two basic conflicts in the story. Cories's sister must marry a selfish and paranoid young prince. It's pretty typical romance/fantasy plot line 1B, though it is not done well. The other conflict is a little more intersting. Corie's uncle hunts sentient elf-like beings and turns them into slaves. Slowly Corie realizes this is evil and tries to do something about it. This could be a more exciting plot line, but it takes so long for anything to develop that by the time it does, the reader is left yawning.

All in all I'd have to say this book is nothing more than fantasy fluff, good for those times when you're looking for a no-brainer read. It only deserves 2 out of 5 amulets, which is too bad since I had high hopes for this book. I don't think I'll be trying any more Sharon Shinn books soon.

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