Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn

Troubled Waters (Elemental Blessings, #1)

 Zoe Ardelay receives astonishing and unwelcome news: she has been chosen to become the king’s fifth wife. Forced to go to the royal city, she manages to slip away and hide on the shores of the mighty river.

It’s there that Zoe realizes she is a coru prime ruled by the elemental sign of water. She must return to the palace, not as an unwilling bride for the king, but a woman with power in her own right. But as Zoe unlocks more of the mysteries of her blood—and the secrets of the royal family—she must decide how to use her great power to rise above the deceptions and intrigue of the royal court.

How have I not come across Sharon Shinn before?! This book could well turn out to be the reading gem of December for me. If you’re looking to lose yourself to a great read with vivid world-building, compelling characters and an exciting plot, then this will be of interest. Romance features too and complements the storyline rather than dominating it.

Zoe is a woman in her early twenties who has lived her life on default for the love of a parent who is now gone. As a woman who is mainly Coru, her element is water, and it is not the nature of water to stay in one place or one form. In this fascinating world, the Coru folk all thrive on change and are creatures of emotion. Zoe at her best is exciting and complex, and at her worst she’s reactive and hasty. 

The land of Chialto is ruled by a king who was responsible for the exile of Zoe’s father. What awful thing did her father do that saw him fall from the king’s favour? Which of the four royal wives – if any – can be trusted, and which of them will stop at nothing to seize more power for themselves? Troubled Waters is the first in the Elemental Blessings series. Blessings feature heavily in the story and guide those who seek it. Each blessing is related to one of the five elements – air, earth, water, wood and fire. 

On the day of Zoe’s birth, three blessings were drawn for her at the local temple: Beauty, an air trait, love, a fire trait, and power a wood trait. Zoe feels neither beautiful nor powerful and hasn’t ever been in love. Yet Coru women can always expect the unexpected because sooner or later their lives will throw up the water blessings – surprise, change and travel. And with all the changes that Zoe experiences, she can’t help but wonder about – and explore – the blessing of ‘power.’

Change and surprise certainly help make this a page-turner. Highly recommended read.

Sample It! Free first chapter from Sharon Shinn’s site: click here.


  1. I love that cover! I’d pick up the book just based on that! The premise sounds full of intrigue and action. World-building is so important and it seems SHaron’s done a great job with it. (I didn’t know “wood” was an element, though. lol) Thanks for the excellent review! 🙂

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