"Books You Really Should Be Reading" is a feature created by myself (though I'm sure far from original) in which I blab on about old favorites which I believe to fill a certain criteria to be considered "unknown brilliance". Not that I'm much of an authority on this matter, but hey, its a free Internet.
Title: The Shamner's Daughter
Author: Lene Kaaberbol
Dina stands transfixed in the pit of alligator-dragons she must cross to rescue her mother in the labyrinthine castle of the wicked Lord Drakan. Three people have been murdered by someone, and Dina's mother has been summoned to confirm the guilt of young Nico, who was found standing over the bodies with bloody hands. She is a Shamer, and to meet her gaze means confronting all the shameful acts one has ever committed. Yet she finds no guilt in Nico, and will not accuse him, although Drakan is strangely, and menacingly, insistent that she do so.
Dina has inherited her ability, but finds it alienates her from everyone in the village. She longs for just one friend who will look her in the eyes. But now Drakan has threatened to use his dragons to execute her mother publicly on the morrow, and Dina must find allies to save her. Before the story is over Dina will find those allies and that loyal friend--but also feel the dragon's needle-sharp fangs, in this exciting beginning to a promising fantasy series translated from the Danish.
I remember the day I first discovered this bad boy. Picture, if you will: eight year old me, thirsty for something with a dark, swampy cover and an interesting name. In the children's section I lurk, surrounded by Babysitters Club and cheesy faces of pretty girls looking back in bewilerment. I sulk as I notice I have read most of the A-M section. I decide to play a game--close my eyes, pick an isle, and just pick one.
I look at my selection.
I chew my lip.
I tuck it under my arm and skip to the check-out counter.
After several renewals and lots of contemplating, I finally decide to read it.
You have to understand--I'm eight, I've already read a good amount of really bad fantasy books in my years. I was wary. And the book looked more and more unappealing the longer I had it. But I was one of those children who felt bad whenever they checked out a book and never read it, so...there it is.
I was completly enamored with the world Kaaberbol created, as well as the characters. I completly related with Dina--both with her inability to connect with anyone (I was something of an emo child) and her insistance that she was "nearly eleven".
And...well, there were dragons. Lots of them.