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House of Shadows

3.61  ·  Rating Details ·  550 Ratings  ·  103 Reviews
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 h
Paperback, 342 pages
Published July 2012 by Orbit
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Nov 09, 2012 Keertana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Keertana by: Heidi
Where has Rachel Neumeier been all my life? Seriously, this woman’s novels are written just the way I like love them to be written and needless to say, after reading just one novel of hers, I’m a self-proclaimed fan. House of Shadows is, beyond anything else, a fantasy. In fact, it’s one of the few good fantasies out there to be released this year. While this past year has seen a resurgence in fantasy novels, any ardent fantasy lover like myself will tell you that only a rare few of them have be ...more
Aug 17, 2012 Heidi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Never let the blurb on the back of a Rachel Neumeier book fool you, in my experience the contents within are inevitably much more complex and intriguing than could possibly be expressed in a few short paragraphs. While House of Shadows is indeed the story of two sisters and a foreign bard who become embroiled in a plot that could wreak havoc on their kingdom, the complete picture is so much more.

House of Shadows begins with a fairy tale cadence as we narrow in on a family of eight sisters. Each
May 11, 2013 Estara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of character-based, kingdom level intrigue fantasy
Recommended to Estara by: I liked her blog voice and her review of And All the Stars and the Booksmugglers had recommended her books before
Shelves: ebook, read-in-2013
This is more what I wanted Seraphina to be like, actually. It's an intricate kingdom-level intrigue fantasy with three main point of view characters, all of them with personal ties to others, coming across a long-term intrigue plotted by a powerful man in the country of Lirionne, which seems to be on the verge of rekindling a war with a neighbouring country after a 15-year-long truce-treaty is set to run out at solstice.

There's the foreigner mage from the rival country, involved as a tool and sc
Let me start off by saying that I enjoyed Neumeier’s other two young adult fantasy novels, The Floating Islands and The City in the Lake. Neumeier has a way of writing fantasy so that it feels sticky, like her book is a big bowl of honey and as you read, you sink down into this crystalline, ethereal place and when you come back up for air, you feel like the world is dripping with magic you feel but can’t see. Her books sell other worldliness in a way that I usually find lacking in most fantasy ...more
Jul 16, 2012 Mitch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading House of Shadows is like watching subtle magic at work. I admit, this is not an easy book to read, be prepared for some fairly dense descriptions and unexpected points of view, but there's just something about the characters, about the writing, that makes this book incredibly charming and compelling. From the very first line, I just knew I was in for the kind of light fantasy that captivates with its detail. "In a city of gray stone and mist, between the steep rainswept mountains and the ...more
Mar 29, 2013 Nafiza rated it liked it
Shelves: high-fantasy, 2012
I was bitterly disappointed by this book. Not because it was bad but because the synopsis led me astray, in fact, it cheated me. If you read the synopsis, you will think the main characters of the novel are Karah and Nemienne when nothing could be further from the truth. Karah is beautiful. And innocent. And that’s about it. She is portrayed as this guileless, naïve character who doesn’t know better than to be wary of strangers and of people who mean her harm. She is that annoying girl who is ...more
Brandy Painter
Originally posted at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

I read Rachel Neumeier's The Floating Islands (my review) and really enjoyed it, so when I saw people begin to talk about her latest book House of Shadows I knew I wanted to read it. I bought it rather than wait to see if my library would ever get it, and boy am I glad I did. I was able to read this wonderful story that much sooner.

Did you read the synopsis? No? Doesn't matter. This book is about a lot more than that and, in fact, does not foc
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
3.75 out of 5

There's a lot to like about this - the world, the culture, the various aspects of magic - but there is also a lot that bothered me as I read. The characters are a mixed bag: some are wonderfully complex, and others had me considering renaming the Mary Sue trope after them specifically (credit: Lyn for the Karah Sue crack).

On the whole, this was far from what I had anticipated but I would, and plan to and may have already bought another YA fantasy from Neumeier. Not perfect, but stil
Originally Reviewed on The Book Smugglers

In the sea and mountain shrouded city of Lirionne, a prosperous merchant raises his eight daughters in a home of love and happiness. When the merchant dies, however, his daughters are left to fend for themselves - and most urgently, they must figure out a way to run the stone masonry (though legally, they cannot, as women) and to pay off the mounting debt following their beloved father's debt. With no other alternative and the possibility of imminent war
Jul 26, 2012 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Life is so unfair. Why do I live in a place where there are no houses that slant into another realm? Why do I have to live in something called a 'country' rather than expansive 'lands'? Why can't I be a magician's apprentice and be able to call light into darkness and read languages without learning them? UNFAIR.

As you can probably tell, the setting and world building in this novel rather appealed to me. I loved everything about the world Rachel Neumeier created, from the Geisha-esque 'Keiso Hou
Sep 25, 2013 Chachic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally posted here.

I've heard so many good things about House of Shadows by Rachel Neumeier from other bloggers. I borrowed it from the Singapore public library last year but didn't get a chance to read it before the due date. Which is why I decided that it would be better to just get my own copy - that way, I could read it when I felt like picking it up. A few weeks (months?) ago, I noticed that I haven't read fantasy in a while so I thought it would be good try this one. Can I just say tha
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Originally posted here.

House of Shadows was not at all what I was expecting. From the description and the opening sections, I was expecting a fairy tale told from the perspectives of Karah and Nemienne. According to Goodreads, I was expecting YA, too, but I really don't know that I would classify it that way, despite the teenage heroines, not that these classifications mean too much at this point. While there are some fairy tale elements to this, House of Shadows felt much more like a traditiona
Blodeuedd Finland
Aug 27, 2015 Blodeuedd Finland rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, ya
I am wavering between a 3 and a 4. Most of the book was a total 4, but I felt the end was a bit weak. It was sudden, I wanted more. But then let's not judge just the end.

Was this YA? With a girl sold into sexual slavery? Ok ok I know it was more fancy than that. It was more a Geisha house, not a brothel. But it was still slavery cos she was stuck there until her debts were paid. And in the end she would sell her body too and become a flower wife. And her sisters sold Karah to this! No matter tha
Steph Su
Feb 28, 2013 Steph Su marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
The writing was skilled, but that didn't translate into an engrossing plot and characters that I wanted to cheer on. The part that I read (approximately a third of it) wasn't bad, but there are just so many other books out there with the potential to actually make me invest in the characters' outcomes that I couldn't make myself finish this.
With House of Shadows, Neumeier has created a gorgeous stand-alone YA fantasy story, like a fairy tale sung in a minor key.
In a city by the sea ruled by a powerful warrior king, a 15-year truce over a disputed boundary is about to expire, and war seems inevitable. Young people, as always, are engrossed in their own concerns, but end up swept up in larger events and plots. Taubbe violated the city's ban on foreign mages in order to study the magic of the sea. But he's not as incognito as he thou
Kat (Kindred Dreamheart)
House of Shadows can best be described as a game of chess. The storyline had a slow tempo throughout with strategic moves and actions some expected some completely ingenious. A household of eight sisters undergo a series of unfortunate events when both parents die, a sister's arranged marriage is held in limbo, and they also fall into a pit of unrecoverable poverty. Two sisters of sold into servitude: Nemienne goes as an understudy to a powerful mage and Karah becomes a Keiso at the glamorous ...more
Unfortunately, I could not finish Neumeier’s new fantasy novel. I received an advanced copy of the novel from NetGalley and because of that I really wanted to finish this book to give it a proper review. I set the book aside once then gave it a second chance, but by the end of chapter three I just wasn’t interested in the characters and plot despite the quality of writing and the evocative descriptions that the author provides.The multiple perspectives from very different characters was ...more
Jul 11, 2012 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are three things you can expect from any Neumeier book: complex, compelling characters; lyrical, fluid prose; and an enthralling sense of the numinous, of wonder at the beauty of the world and of magic. HOUSE OF SHADOWS delivers all three in spades.

Nemienne loves her seven sisters, but she's never felt that there's a place for her in her family's well-ordered household. When their father dies and the sisters determine that one or more of them must be sold to provide for the others, she's w
Courtney Schafer
I bought House of Shadows because a friend of mine recommended it, saying Neumeier's writing reminded him of Patricia McKillip. McKillip is one of my all-time favorite fantasy authors for the lyric beauty of her prose, the mythic feel of her stories, and her vividly drawn characters, so I had to check Neumeier out. Oh goodness, I'm so glad I did! I loved House of Shadows, hands down. It's a subtle, atmospheric, beautiful novel, and yes, there was much about the feel of the story that reminded me ...more
Sep 23, 2012 Beth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
The first of the eight daughters mentioned in House of Shadows is Ananda. That joy in existence without which the universe will fall apart and collapse. Much like L'Engle's Ananda, though, Neumeier's drifts at the edge of the story as an observer.

There isn't much joy in House of Shadows, though. The novel centers on a political situation much like tangled, knotted threads. And despite the myriad of plot threads involved, the story surprisingly lacks complexity. The idea of bardic sorcery is beau
Jul 29, 2012 Angela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my first book by Rachel Neumeier and I have to say, I loved it! The world building in this book is second to none. It was easy to "see" the areas she spoke of, without droning on and on about every small detail as some books do. In other books, I've found myself skipping over constant descriptions, as they become boring. In House of Shadows, I hung on every word. There are three main characters in this book and they're surprisingly not the two sisters and the bard. They're actually one ...more
I loved The Floating Islands and, while this wasn't quite as good for me, House of Shadows is a similarly satisfying elegant fantasy. The characters are attractively flawed, the world building is stunning and the plot revolves around politicking rather than action. I found it a little slow to start with and could really have done with a list of characters (complicated naming system with several characters having more than one name) and a map (all good fantasy books should have a map as far as ...more
Grace Troxel
Aug 04, 2012 Grace Troxel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Standalone YA fantasy without the love triangles and angst? I approve. Geishas, dragons, and political intrigue? Even better.

For full review, see here:
Gina (My Precious Blog)
A merchant with eight young daughters unexpectedly dies leaving his girls in a financial crisis. The eldest sisters brainstorm for a sustainable means to support their "super sized" family. Slowly it becomes evident the only way the family can survive is to actually sell (yes sell) a couple of the sisters. Karah, the most beautiful of the girls is sold to a keiso house and Nemienne, one of the more odd ball girls in the family is sold to a mage who thought she may possess magical powers. As both ...more
I think Rachel Neumeier is an underappreciated talent in the realm of Young Adult fantasy. Like Sharon Shinn, Juliet Marillier, and Robin McKinley she can create a whole world that is both magical and believable and characters that have more than one layer.

That being said, this is not my favorite book of Neumeier's. I learned in the Q&A after the novel that this was originally several story ideas eventually melded into one. That makes everything make so much more sense because it really did
Jan 24, 2016 ala rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, this book is to teach me that second chances pay off. I enjoyed The City in the Lake, only to find myself actively annoyed by Black Dog. I don't like having my book-reading time wasted, so it was with some concern that I gave Neumeier another go. But I am glad I did!

I enjoyed this book's unusual, vaguely Asian fantasy setting, it's novel magic system ("bardic" sorcery), it's handful of intrepid and appealing protagonists, and it's smooth and lyrical writing style. At first I thought it wou
Aug 10, 2014 Andrew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a city by the sea, a stone-cutter lived with his eight daughters. Not a *poor* stone-cutter -- really the owner of a moderately prosperous stoneyard business. But when he dies abruptly, the business affairs are left in a precarious state. Thus Karah, the eldest and most beautiful daughter is sold off to a keiso house; and Nemienne, the middlemost and quietest daughter, apprentices to a mage.

For keiso house, read "geisha house", at least the polite and perhaps bowdlerized definition. Keisos ar
Maureen E
Oct 16, 2012 Maureen E rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Opening line: "In a city of grey stone and mist, between the steep rain-swept mountains and the sea, there lived a merchant with his eight daughters."

After a long wait, due to the vagaries of the postal service, I finally got my copy of Rachel Neumeier's latest, House of Shadows. After The City in the Lake and The Floating Islands, Neumeier's books are pretty much on my auto-buy list and what I'd heard about House was definitely intriguing.

I found it a very satisfying book, with plenty of polit
Aug 23, 2012 Caitlin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
I've been saying this a lot lately about the things I've been reading, but I absolutely loved this book. I'm having a good run of books and I'm very happy about that.

Lots of people have recorded fairy tales and turned them into literature - not just within the past decade or so, but from the beginning. Lots of people have taken fairy tales as their inspiration and have taken the essential bones of the tale twisting them into new shapes while maintaining the overall sense of the original tale. Ot
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
Despite the novel's sort of sing-song, fairy tale opening -- In a city of grey stone and mist, between the steep rain-swept mountains and the sea, there lived a merchant with his eight daughters. -- the book settles quickly into a focused fantasy novel, following two of the eight orphaned daughters.

Now poverty stricken, the mathematically-inclined sister discovers that despite the family's holdings, they are utterly destitute. Briefly -- again, in that same sort of dreamy, fairy-tale manner, it
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 21, 2015 01:24PM  
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Rachel Neumeier started writing fiction to relax when she was a graduate student and needed a hobby unrelated to her research. Prior to selling her first fantasy novel, she had published only a few articles in venues such as The American Journal of Botany. However, finding that her interests did not lie in research, Rachel left academia and began to let her hobbies take over her life instead.

She n
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