View from the window seat:
Timou lives a quiet life in her village alongside her friends, learning to be a mage under the tutelage of her father. But when the Prince disappears, her quiet life is disturbed in ways she never imagined as something cruel and powerful seeps into the Kingdom and its magic. After her father heads for the City to put the Kingdom to rights and doesn’t return, Timou knows she must follow him. Soon Timou will confront her heritage and the mother she never knew. Timou may hold the key to returning the Kingdom to how it’s supposed to be.
This is the second book I’ve read by Rachel Neumeier, and now I am fully convinced that she can do no wrong when it comes to fantasy writing. Neumeier builds her world through lush descriptions of the City and its true counterpart in the Lake, the great forest and its mysteries, and the tiny village Timou grew up in. The reader is instantly transported into all of these settings so effortlessly that one doesn’t even notice falling into such a strange and beautiful world.
And Timou! Oh, lovely, solemn Timou. Timou is not a flashy heroine, one who swoops in armed with weapons to battle whatever foe stands in her way. No, Timou studies the world around her, finding stillness in her heart so she can observe patterns and understand truths. Timou’s journey is a quiet, dangerous one filled with introspection and discovery of who she is, what powers she holds, and what choices her parents have made.
No fantasy is complete without a fantastic cast of characters, and Neumeier truly delivers on this front. From the wry, clever Lord Bastard Neill to the lovable Prince Cassiel to the steadfast and brave Jonas to the cruel and powerful Lelienne, every character is unique and plays an important role in the telling of the story.
Speaking of Jonas, the romance of the story is done in the kind of quiet, perfect way that I love and adore. There is the slow falling, and the discovery of someone meaning something more. Neumeier is so skilled that none of this needs to be explained explicitly; it’s simply a natural occurrence that is understood to be the right thing for these characters.
The City in the Lake is a beautiful fantasy novel with lyrical writing, strong characters, and excellent world-building.