Rachel Neumeier ( website)
Publisher: Orbit/Hachette Book Group (July 2012. 352p. $14.99. 978-0-316-07277-9)
Source: TLC Book Tours (more tour dates)
Genre: Fantasy (mages, magic pipes)
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Eight daughters have to fend for themselves after their father dies suddenly. They are left with a house and money that is tied up in a business deemed worthless without the merchant to run things. They try to sell the business but no one is offering enough for survival. They decide to sell two of their sisters instead. They hope the girls can go to one of the best local Keiso houses, Cloisonne House. Half their dream comes true. Karah is immediately accepted but it was suggested that they take Nemienne to Mage Ankennes, where she is sold on a trial basis. While the sisters adjust to their new lives, we are introduced to Leilis, a former keiso wannabe, and Taudde, a bardic sorcerer whose very presence in Lonne is cause for death. Taudde is blackmailed and the only way out is to assassinate the prince.
House of Shadows proved to be a slow read for me. I thought the prose repetitive and the names so similar as to be confusing.Throughout the book we get glimpses of the girl's characters; Karah is beautiful and naive and that protects her from permanent harm while Nemienne is plain but determined and that helps her make the tough choices. Karah is envied for her beauty and constantly being taken advantage of, only to come out on top each time. Nemienne has a hard time learning the simplest of spells but can accidentally do some of the strongest magic. Taudde is supposed to be clever and an accomplished bardic sorcerer. His goal is to make magic by studying the "music of the sea". And we are told this over and over. The three of them, along with Leilis - who has been cursed for some reason that's alluded to but never revealed - uncover a plot even more dangerous than the attempted assassination. I learned more about the setting than the characters in House of Shadows. Neumeier's descriptions of the mountains, the water and the candlelight district were detailed and vivid. But, they didn't save the book for me. I was disappointed in the end because everyone needed to be rescued by an unexpected and implausible source. The girls did not turn out the way I had hoped, strong characters that save the day, nor in a way that had been hinted at throughout the book. I didn't even recognize Nemienne in the ending scenes. And even though there are dragons on each chapter's beginning page (at least in the eARC I read), the dragon played such a minimal part in the book as to seem an afterthought. Neumeier's resolution was as expected down to the last scene, which suggests a book two.
About the Author
|Pic courtesy of TLC Book Tours|
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