Review: House of Shadows by Rachel Neumeier
House of Shadows is one of those books that I would apply this tag line to: Enjoyment is in the eye of the individual reader. It's rare that I have a book that I don't fully connect with, that I would encourage others to try for themselves.
Though the cover blurb lists them as orphans, Karah and Nemienne are actually sacrifices. When the family of 8 daughters is left without immediate funds after their fathers death, Nemienne suggests selling herself and one other of her sisters to service.
For Karah the great beauty of the family it is decided that she will join the Flower House and become a keiso, The Keiso life is filled with pleasure, pampering and ultimately freedom from the debts of the house thru marriage or personally paying off the debt. Not a coarse type of prostitution but more like a training ground for mistresses.
For Nemienne it is the surprising life as an apprentice to a mage. Rachel does a great job in a very short time establishing the kingdom and the girls world. I was expecting a wonderful exploration of the girls journeys and discoveries. Which happens to some extent.
BUMPS IN THE ROAD
Things shift a bit though due to two characters: Leilis a young woman who works at Karah's Flower House and the Bard Taudde. These two characters were interesting to me because the actually began to overshadow the two leads. So much so that all the political story elements that came with Taudde bogged down the read for me and Leilis is so interesting and well developed I didn't want to read any other parts of the book she wasn't involved in. So these factors created a tug of war in me in regards to fully enjoying the book.
Rachel does have a great narrative voice but I just couldn't connect with the different plot lines. The two major characters seemed to take a back seat and I felt I didn't know or enjoy them as much as I did Leilis.
Some promising bits, and maybe other readers will connect better with the overall plot then I did.Many thanks to Orbit for the chance to review this book .