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Review: Unquiet Land by Sharon Shinn (Elemental Blessings #4)

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Unquiet Land by Sharon Shinn // VBC ReviewUnquiet Land (Elemental Blessings #4)
Sharon Shinn
Published: Nov. 1, 2016 (Ace)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Amy

Rating (out of 5): 3.5 stars

Leah Frothen has been away from home for five years. In a surge of not knowing what she wanted out of her life, she fled her home country of Welce leaving her newborn daughter to be raised by relatives. Leah found herself in the country of Malinqua working as a shop girl, but also as a spy for the Welchin regent.

Now, Leah is in a place in her life where she’s ready to return home, hoping to finally claim the daughter she left behind. Beyond that, her plans for the future are still up in the air. When a group of foreign dignitaries visit Welce in hopes of signing a treaty of alliance, Leah is pulled into the spying game once again. The regent has agreed to back Leah in opening a new shop, and in return Leah will keep her eyes and ears open to the goings on around Welce. As suspicions are soon proved valid, the secrets of all those Leah calls friend and family start to come to the surface, and she begins to wonder about the secrets she herself keeps.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, high-action kind of read, Unquiet Land is not for you. The plot is slower to develop with the intrigue of spying really taking second stage to Leah’s story.

I felt like Unquiet Land was mainly a character study. We see this character that five years ago had no qualms about leaving her newborn daughter, fleeing to a place, and assuming an identity in which she could alienate herself from others around her. Fast-forwarding, Leah has grown up and is ready to take on her responsibilities and realizes that, if nothing else, she wants to be a mother to her daughter. The complexity of family is another major theme throughout the story as Leah integrates herself back within her family and friends. I kind of applaud Sharon Shinn for writing a character that wasn’t afraid to say ‘I wasn’t able to be what you needed then, but I am now’. The story is further driven by Leah trying to figure out what she wants out of her future, building upon her new role as mother, and how all her decisions have to circle back to what’s best for her daughter.

I rather enjoyed the day-to-day mundaneness of Leah setting up and running her shop. It reminded me of Anne Bishop’s The Others series in that regard. Just the descriptions of the various items were interesting to me.

What I would have loved more of within the story was the magical aspect. The Welchin’s believe in the power of five elements (air, wood, fire, water, earth – elay, hunti, sweela, coru, torz respectively), and when you’re born you are blessed by one of these elements. Each element has a prime and it’s the prime that is able to actually control the element, plus offshoots of said element (i.e. the coru prime works with water, but they also have an affinity with blood). While members of Leah’s friends/extended family are prime, Leah herself is not. I can forgive the lack of magic, however, seeing as how including too much of something that Leah isn’t privy to would detract from her story.

Overall, I enjoyed the somewhat simplistic storyline, a woman coming home again, ready to embrace her responsibilities and her future.

Sexual content: sex

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