This is the fourth book in Shinn's Twelve Houses series. Each volume focuses on one of the six companions and this one follows the youngest--Cammon. The boy who reads souls. Heretofore, Cammon has been something of a delightful enigma. The scruffy little brother with a good heart, not an ounce of tact, and the ability to gauge a person's true intentions. In this volume, he comes into his own and it was a treat to be one up on the rest of the characters for once. To actually be inside his head. Cammon is still Cammon, but we do get a little more information on his background and abilities as a reader. When he is chosen to assess the true intentions of Princess Amalie's suitors, the inevitable humorous and dangerous consequences follow. In fact, this was the most predictable of the four novels so far. Although I was surprised (and perfectly delighted) with how much of it was Senneth's story. She is my favorite character and, in the end, all the books are about Senneth, the people she gathers around her, and the ways in which she binds them together. As in Mystic & Rider, her sheer strength took my breath away. Now that I think about it, it makes sense that we get so much of Senneth in this book as it becomes clearer and clearer as the story goes on how much Cammon relies on her. How, even when he disagrees with her logic, she has come to fill a space in his life that was empty until she walked into the tavern and freed him with a swipe of her knife. As always, Shinn's strength is her dialogue and her strong characters. They leap, gleefully and disreputably, off the page, making me wish I knew them. Wish I could talk with them and watch their faces. Become familiar and chummy with them. Until I was one of them. One of the six. No, seven now. That's the sign of a good book. That's the reason I'll read anything she writes. That, and finally having the satisfaction of watching Tayse cleave Halchon Gisseltess in half without blinking an eye. The good news: Ms. Shinn is in negotiations to write a fifth installment in the series. All is right with the world.
I feel a bit giddy finally talking to you all about this series. If you'll remember, I fell madly in love with The Q when it came out a few years ago. Now, Beth Brower is writing The Unselected Journals of Emma M. Lion — a series of novellas set in London in 1883. Each volume is an excerpt from the incorrigible Emma's journals, and the first two volumes are already available with the third on the way soon. I think they'd make rather perfect pandemic reading. Humorous and charming down to their bones, they're just what the doctor ordered to lift your spirits in this uncertain time that just proves to be too much some days. If you're experiencing one of those days, I suggest giving Volume 1 a go (it's only 99 cents on Kindle, $4.99 for a trade paperback copy). It will surprise exactly none of you that I own print and digital editions of both volumes. Miss Emma M. Lion has waited long enough. Come hell or high water (and really, given her track record, both a