Another Amazon Freebie for me recommended by Misty Baker, at the Kindle Obsessed Blog. It was well worth my time and I'm happy I went ahead and actedAnother Amazon Freebie for me recommended by Misty Baker, at the Kindle Obsessed Blog. It was well worth my time and I'm happy I went ahead and acted on her great Goodreads review. Sometimes the Amazon freebies are hidden gems. I'd consider this book, and the Dusk Series to be just that. I'd consider this book a sort of historical fantasy of sorts. It reminded me a lot of The River of Time Series. In Seeds of Discovery, the main character follows a mysterious boy, who has always kept to himself around until she discovers his well kept secret. William Rose is from another world, Eirentheos. Spying on his one late afternoon, she stumbles onto the gate between the two worlds and ends up in completely different time period: one where there are still castles, kings and queens.
Seeds of Discovery is set in two different worlds: Colorado, USA and then Eirentheos. Most of the story unfolds in the fantasy world. Pacing was moderate. The mystery of the youngster's illness kept me engaged. This one is told in a third person narrative, primarily through the eyes of Quinn Robbins, our female heroine. Every once in a while it changes perspective. The first time it did was about a quarter into the book, surprising me.
This is one of those story telling stories where the characters are rich and three dimensional. The good characters were easy to love and the villain was a cinch to despise. Quinn Robbins, the main character, makes a great heroine. She's curious, inquisitive and compassionate. I like how in her world she is a good caregiver to her younger sibling. She's also a great student and takes pride in her studies. When she transfers into the fantasy world, some of her negative traits shine through. She's very anxious and quite the worry wart. I did admire how she tried to control these weaknesses. I believe Quinn is a good role model and I especially like how she treated younger children.
William Rose is a very private person. He's mysterious and slightly stand offish at first. When he travels back to his home we see a completely different character. He is a wonderful caring brother and determined physician. He's very hard on himself. I'd even venture to say he's a perfectionist. It makes a lot of sense while he's in Quinn's world, why he prefers to lay low.
Thomas, William's younger brother is a godsend for Quinn. He's the character who takes the time to explain everything to Quinn. I like how he was totally patient with her and all her crazy questions. Thomas totally helped to ground Quinn and reassure her that everything would be fine while she was away from her own world.
The villain, Toliver, was a horrible, detestable character. He's one of those kids who just thinks he's entitled to everything. Sadly, his feelings of entitlement don't end with just material possessions. When they start involving Quinn though, thing get pretty intense. I have a feeling he's going to be more involved in future installments.
This story for me was quite enjoyable. Its one of those books where the plot and the characters are both strong. World building is just beginning in this book. There are distinctive differences between the two worlds, physically. For example, the sky and sunset are pink. The way time passes is faster in the fantasy world and much slower in the real world. This is an integral part of the plot since, because of this Quinn can travel between worlds, spending time in the fantasy world, without worrying her family. I hear this one just keeps improving with each new book in the series. There is a total of 4 books in the entire series, plus one novella.
I'd recommend this to historical fantasy lovers and readers who want wholesome characters and enjoy a medical mystery....more
A merchant with eight young daughters unexpectedly dies leaving his girls in a financial crisis. The eldest sisters brainstorm for a sustainable meansA 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 girls are adjusting to their new lives apart, a common force pulls them back together 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." (Amazon summary)
(From Amazon) "Rachel Neumeier started writing fiction to relax when she was a graduate student; her first publications appeared in journals such as The American Journal of Botany and and would probably be interesting to a readership in the high dozens. She is confident that her fantasy novels have much greater appeal!
Rachel's first YA fantasy, The City in the Lake, was published in 2008, and was followed by the adult fantasy Griffin Mage trilogy in 2010 and by her second YA, The Floating Islands, in early 2011. She gets her ideas from artwork, from history, from other authors' minor characters, and from just throwing words on the page and seeing what happens.
Rachel now lives in rural Missouri, where, having allowed her hobbies to take over her life, she has a very large garden, a very small orchard, two cats, and many beautiful Cavalier King Charles Spaniels."
House of Shadows is a stand alone novel and is not part of any other series.
SETTING PACE AND STYLE
Set in the past. Slow pacing as the author takes her time to descriptively and lyrically set up her story through her well thought out, richly developed characters. Writing is in a third person narrative from the different perspectives of the four main characters involved in the plot.
CHARACTERS AND PLOT
The characters are what made this story for me. Each with rich personalities and distinguishable traits, the author does a great job of getting the reader to know each of them on a very personal level.
Nemienne, the one sister who is not only plain, but also always seemed useless to the family unit. She has difficulty staying focused on even the simplest tasks. However, a powerful mage sees through all this to her deeper self which possess a special magical strength that he believes he can coax out.
Karah, beauty and charisma combine with youth and innocence to create most valuable sister, the sister who was sold to the kieso house called Cloisonne House.
Taudd a foreign bard is a mage with musical powers. The ocean draws him to the country but somehow he gets wrapped up in an integral part of the plot and is being forced to assassinate a prince.
Leilis is a special house servant at the Keiso House Karah was sold to. She befriend Karah and looks out for her since some of the other younger Keisos to be, are vehenmently jealous of her beauty. Leisel also harbors her own dark secrets.
Plot: When a merchant dies and leaves his large family of daughters in financial ruins, the girls resort to desperate measure for survival. This leaves two girls in the family pursing completely different lives for the good of the greater family. However, they are drawn back together by a common force which turns out to be part of a very complex political situation.
I recommend this book to patient readers who enjoy really getting to know and love the characters they read about, including magical and fantasy characters alike. Those who lavish descriptive passages, poetic writing, complex plots, slow moving fantasy stories and fairy tale elements will be drawn to this book. Warning to parents: a hint of prostitution is involved in this story.
House of Shadows is a Sci-fi/fantasy with a fairytale feel to it. It also involves a fairly complex political plot, which was totally unexpected for me. This book is one in which the author develops a plot around her characters. Written in third person narratives from at least four main characters points of view, this story was character driven, not plot driven. Initially, I feared I may not like the book, the author was introducing so many characters I simply couldn't keep track of them all. Eventually, she pruned it down to following just four. That's the point at which she captured my interest. I definitely was drawn into the story with each multilayered character I began to learn about. My biggest concern was how in the world the author was going to tie these four completely different characters to a common cause.
A few elements of the story which really stood out for me were the magical cats, the dragon and the keiso houses. I'm an animal lover so I could appreciate how the author wove in two magical cats into her story line. Enkea is a mysterious little cat with a single white paw responsible for leading the way between the worlds of dark and light. The dragon, well, I don't want to spoil anything so I'll go with, it was a total surprise, an additional bonus to this great fantasy story.
The keiso houses seemed original and inventive. I definitely noticed similiarities to the geisha of Japan when initially introduced. The keiso's world parallels the geisha in some aspects. Both are ranked and begin training very young. Geisha are entertainers, raised to preform or dance, though a few were thought to exchange sexual favors. Keiso, on the other hand, are soley brought up to be sold to noblemen as second wives referred to as "flower wives" in the book. Unlike Geisha, though, these girls are emphasized as being artists and high-status women. Yes its a little strange, but very intriguing, nonetheless. Of course the author goes into much further details about this concept throughout the book.
Writing in this one is vibrant with lots of descriptive passages, pertaining specifically to the setting, political structure, the dress and even food. House of Shadows possess certain qualities of mystery and intrigue, but the driving force came from the characters and their individual, detailed stories. Despite the multiple narratives and points of view the author miraculously pulled it all together for a very climatic ending. The wrap up and falling action answered all the burning questions one may have held for the characters the reader grew to know and love. I was actually sad to see this one end. I'd grown attached to the characters, it was hard to turn the last page, close the back cover and leave them behind. I'm not one to read books more than once, but I feel like this is one of those stories I could easily re-read over and over again.
This one earns four and 1/2 rings. I deducted 1/2 ring simply because I was challenged by the political structure in the story. For me it was well thought out, but complex and a little difficult to follow. Otherwise a fantastic, spell bounding read.
4.5 out of 5 Rings (VERY ENTERTAINING - LOOKED FORWARD TO READING)