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By Singing Light

Pretty much everything here originally appeared at my actual blog: By Singing Light. I particularly focus on upper middle-grade and young adult books. I also enjoy adult genre books, especially speculative fiction.

Currently reading

The Lost Tools of Learning and the Mind of the Maker
Dorothy L. Sayers
The Seventh Bride
T. Kingfisher
Hope in the Dark
Rebecca Solnit
Outrun the Moon
Stacey Lee
Midnight Thief
Livia Blackburne
The White Hart
Nancy Springer
The Great Wall Of Lucy Wu
Wendy Wan-Long Shang
Jim C. Hines
Elizabeth & Leicester: Power, Passion, Politics
Sarah Gristwood
House of Shadows - Rachel Neumeier Opening line: "In a city of grey stone and mist, between the steep rain-swept mountains and the sea, there lived a merchant with his eight daughters."

After a long wait, due to the vagaries of the postal service, I finally got my copy of Rachel Neumeier's latest, House of Shadows. After The City in the Lake and The Floating Islands, Neumeier's books are pretty much on my auto-buy list and what I'd heard about House was definitely intriguing.

I found it a very satisfying book, with plenty of political machinations (I've mentioned before how very much I love fantasy books with politics) and a nice hint of romance. There were some lovely moments as well, especially the descriptions of Taudde's magic.

The story follows three main characters, Nemienne, Taudde, and Leilis. Although the back cover had promised a little more in terms of interaction between Nemienne and her sister Karah(Nemienne and Karah do work together significantly at several key points, but their relationship is more of a constant undercurrent and I would definitely call Karah a minor character), I quickly got over my disappointment. Because the three main characters are awesome: detailed, nuanced, and conflicted. Taudde is possibly my favorite by a hair, partly because I really resonated with his journey, but I loved all three and cheered for them.

The book opens with the kind of language and situation that links fairy tales and 19th century literature: the father dies, the daughters are forced to find their way in a world that is not kind. The balance never tips over into too much darkness or danger, but it is made clear that there are real things at stake here, that Nemienne and Karah's futures (and Leilis and Taudde's in a more oblique way) are not certain.

I like the world as well. It clearly has some Japanese/Asian influences, which is shown on the cover, but I also felt that it had almost a Northern English/Scottish feel to it--the city perched on the edge of a wild sea. I loved Taudde's interaction with the sea, the way he was drawn to it and yet feared it.

And...I liked the way the conflict was resolved, and most especially Nemienne's role in it. I'm not entirely sure that others will agree with me, but it was satisfying on the character level and I am definitely a character reader rather than a plot reader.

So I personally found the whole thing very pleasing indeed, and am happy that I bought it.

My other Rachel Neumeier reviews:
The City in the Lake (also here and here
The Floating Islands

Other reviews of House of Shadows:
The Book Smugglers
Charlotte's Library
Book Aunt