Early Review: House of Shadows by Rachel Neumeier

July 8, 2012 Review 0 ★★★

*This title will be released on July 10, 2012*

House of Shadows

by Rachel Neumeier

Genre: Fantasy | Excerpt: No
Reviewed by: Julia | Source: Netgalley

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; July 10, 2012
  • ISBN-10: 031607277X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316072779

Rating

Good – A fun read with minor flaws. Maybe read an excerpt before buying.

Sexual Content

References to prostitution.

Description

Orphaned, two sisters are left to find their own fortunes.

Sweet and proper, Karah’s future seems secure at a glamorous Flower House. She could be pampered for the rest of her life… if she agrees to play their game.

Nemienne, neither sweet nor proper, has fewer choices. Left with no alternative, she accepts a mysterious mage’s offer of an apprenticeship. Agreeing means a home and survival, but can Nemienne trust the mage?

With the arrival of a foreign bard into the quiet city, dangerous secrets are unearthed, and both sisters find themselves at the center of a plot that threatens not only to upset their newly found lives, but also to destroy their kingdom.

Review

It’s always disappointing when a much anticipated book falls flat, which is probably why I fought so hard to like HOUSE OF SHADOWS more.  A gorgeously written adventure fantasy, this book has magic and true love, knowledgeable cats and hidden passages, a mysterious old house and the gracious bowers of pleasure houses… and yet, despite all the things I loved, there were also long passages where I wasn’t interested at all.

Part of the issue was the initial change of character perspective.  Neumeier did her job too well, setting my focus on the two sisters going out into the world to seek their fortune.  I was so interested on Karah and Nemienne, I resented when the story took me away to follow Leilis or Taubbe.  Some of this is my own predilections, I tend to pick favorites and don’t like narratives that scatter too widely over characters.  Some, however, can be fairly laid at HOUSE OF SHADOWS’s feet, as proved by the fact that I eventually got invested in Leilis and Taubbe as well, just to find there were still stretches of politics and overly wrought scenes that just didn’t hold my interest.  Much of Neumeier’s exposition helped build the interesting and chaotic world of HOUSE OF SHADOWS, but a lot of the politics and background machinations lost my interest.  Even worse, the entire geisha-like culture of the keiso, while fascinating, made Karah’s “Happily-Ever-After” fall entirely flat for me.

Despite my own issues with the book, I would not be surprised at all to find others enjoy it thoroughly.  Neumeier’s main characters are interesting and compelling, and the way she intertwines magic into the city is vivid.   HOUSE OF SHADOWS will do well for readers who have a little more patience than I do and are in the mood for a slow burn adventure with politics, magic, and love.

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