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House of Shadows by Rachel Neumeier-Review and Guest Post!

Saturday, September 8, 2012
Thanks for having me on Live To Read, Krystal – it’s a pleasure to be here!
HOUSE OF SHADOWS first hit the shelves in the middle of July, of course, and reading the early reviews has been so interesting!  The book is a complicated one, with three point-of-view protagonists and a good handful of important secondary characters.  I know the back cover copy implies that it’s the story of two sisters, but really one of the sisters, Karah, isn’t a protagonist at all.  She is actually the linchpin that connects the three true point-of-view protagonists.  One of those is Karah’s sister; another, Taudde, is the “foreign bard” mentioned on the back cover; and the third – Leilis, Karah’s mentor – isn’t mentioned at all.
Of course, as a writer, you run a pretty serious risk when you switch from one point-of-view character to another.  It’s very possible that some of your readers will engage emotionally with the first character they meet and really dislike switching away from her point-of-view.  To compensate, you have to really try hard to make the next point-of-view character, and the one after that, just as engaging and compelling as the first.
As it happens, the early reviews have offered encouraging evidence that all three of the protagonists in HOUSE OF SHADOWS succeed at this job, because so far every one of the three point-of-view characters has just about the same number of votes for “favorite character” as the others.  That’s so interesting! 
Of course I have my personal favorite character in this story – the bardic sorcerer, Taudde – and roughly a third of the readers agree with me.  But about a third of all readers like Nemienne best.  She’s the most YA-style protagonist, which probably makes her appeal to plenty of readers who enjoy YA.    And the remaining third vote for Leilis as their favorite – she is a young woman, but not a girl, and she’s certainly in a difficult situation when the story opens. 
Though sometimes complicated, it can be very rewarding to write a book with multiple protagonists, as you have the chance to show readers your world through more than one viewpoint. I hope that readers find HOUSE OF SHADOWS as rewarding to read as I did to write!

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.

Goodreads Summary

Karah and Nemienne are two sisters with different personalities.  I think I liked their characters so much because they reflect my sister and I.  Karah is the sweeter one and tends to get along well with everyone while Nemienne still needs to find her own way.  Nemienne finds herself an apprentice to a mage with a very interesting house, one the reader will come to love.  The house is described in vivid detail and gives Nemienne's chapters an airy, magical feeling.  There is a parallel between light and dark in the story, one that the reader will find mostly in Nemienne's chapters are she learns more from the wise mage. 

Karah's character was a little bland for me, but compared to Nemienne's many other characters would pale in comparison anyway.  The two sisters are not the only main characters.  Leilis, also in Karah's Flower House, acts almost as a guide to the reader.  She uses and explains much of the terminology and is easy to like.  Taubbe is a character the reader will be introduced to relatively late in the book, but his point of view is crucial.  His character is involved in the assassination plot that will be the climax of the novel.  All of these characters tie into the larger plot and have something to add. 

The plot itself isn't so much amazing as it is magical.  The reader will want to see the inside of the mage's house and meet Nemienne in person.  Everything is portrayed with great detail, it is easy to imagine the scenes and characters.  The author writes fluidly and although some of the terminology may be confusing at first, it is explained fairly quickly after the initial confusion.  This book is recommended to young adult/teen readers.

4 Stars

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This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.


  1. Unknown said...:

    I DNF'd this, can't get a clear grasp of things. Glad you liked it though

  1. Alina P said...:

    Love the cover and your review. Don't know if I would add it to my TBR though, too much hopping between POVs it seems.

  1. I'm intrigued with this and I love multiple view points. Great review!

  1. Sandra said...:

    Thanks for the review. It sounds interesting and I worry about multiple POVs but I think I'll give this book a go :) You make it sound like it's magical but done well.

  1. Daniela said...:

    I've never heard of this book before. But it sounds very interesting. I love sister books.

  1. Chelsea B. said...:

    Ohhh, magical! I am looking forward to this one!

  1. This book seems like something I would read I love reading books where there are other siblings in the mix. I totally loved your review by the way.