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The City in the Lake

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  527 ratings  ·  92 reviews
The Kingdom’s heart is the City. The City’s heart is the King. The King’s heart is the Prince. The Prince is missing.

Ever since the Prince disappeared, nothing has been right in the Kingdom. Something has disturbed the strange, old magic that whispers around its borders . . . something cunning and powerful. And the disturbance extends to the farthest reaches of the Kingdom
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 8th 2008 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2008)
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3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  527 ratings  ·  92 reviews

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Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, ya, solid-reads
The City in the Lake, with a subtly dreamlike feel and fluid magic, walks a thin line between fantasy and fairy tale. The story itself reminds faintly of Tam Lin -- a prince goes missing (kidnapped by a queen of fairy, perhaps?) and Timou, a mage's daughter, sets off to find him. But I wouldn't say this is a retelling, rather an original story strongly flavored with folklore. Much of it, such as the wild hunter, is seems of European origin, but bits and pieces, such as the talking serpent Timou ...more
Brandy Painter
Jul 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Originally posted here at Random Musing of a Bibliophile.

After reading The Floating Islands a couple of years ago, I immediately put The City in the Lake on my TBR. There it sat despite the fact that I adored The Floating Islands, House of Shadows, and just really like Rachel Neumeier as a person too. After reading and loving Black Dog earlier this year I decided I needed to read this sooner rather than later and the Shelf-Sweeper challenge gave me the perfect opportunity for that. And I loved i
Originally Reviewed on The Book Smugglers:


First Impressions:

Thea: I’ve read two books by Rachel Neumeier prior to picking up The City and the Lake, and I can attest to her skill as a storyteller, especially in the fantasy arena. But Ms. Neumeier’s excellent The Floating Islands and Lord of the Changing Winds have got NOTHING on The City in the Lake. I have to admit, I’m not crazy about either cover for the book, but my goodness is the story within j
Mar 12, 2011 rated it liked it
Originally posted here.

The City in the Lake is a quest-type YA fantasy novel. The whole kingdom starts to fall apart with the disappearance of the young Prince. Magic starts to go awry and mages have no idea why. Timou is a young woman raised by her mage father in an isolated village. When trouble reaches even their remote area, her father goes back to the city to investigate. When he doesn't return, it's up to Timou to discover what happened and she knows that her quest is tied with her search
Oct 31, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: younger teens and above
“THE KINGDOM’S HEART is the city. The City’s heart is the King. The King’s heart is the Prince. The Prince is missing.” From the moment the prince went missing, the whole kingdom is in disarray. From the heart of the kingdom to its outskirts, infants are born dead or dying. When Timou’s father, a mage, journeys to the City and never returns, Timou decides to go after him. She travels to the kingdom’s heart and there she faces powers much greater than her own and unravels the truth of her birth ...more
Apr 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This book is so similar to so many of Patricia A. McKillip's books that it could almost be called a pastiche, albeit an uncredited one. Now I want to go back and re-read everything McKillip ever wrote.
Oct 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
A complete fantasy story in less than 300 pages. I was very impressed with how concise this was, without leaving anything out. Beautiful descriptions, real emotions and interesting magic. I recommend it for fantasy fans middle school and up. Some strong upper elementary readers may enjoy this as well.
Sarah (CoolCurryBooks)
The City in the Lake is an original YA fairy tale. When the Prince of the Kingdom goes missing, the magic of the Kingdom is thrown out of balance. The disturbance reaches all the way to the rural village where Timou is learning the craft of her father, a mage. When he never returns from a journey to the City, Timou herself goes to look for him and the missing prince.

While I was originally under the impression that Timou would be the center of the story (and this still is somewhat true) the narra
Dec 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
I think I've found McKillip's heir.

I picked it up after reading the first paragraph on the inside jacket flap:

"The Kingdom's heart is the City. The City's heart is the King. The King's heart is the Prince. The prince is missing."

I'm glad I didn't read the back instead. This was all I needed to pick the book up.

It reads like a first novel -- heavy-handed, at times -- and it's marketed as young adult (I hate venturing into my library's Teen Zone when there are actual teenagers in the area... someh
Dec 22, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of House of Shadows
Recommended to Estara by:
Shelves: ebook, read-in-2013
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
I'm a rabid fan of stand-alone YA. I think that too often, YA are books which depend on their prequel or sequel. I have nothing against series of books (Harry Potter, Kristin Cashore - yes please!) I just prefer that they stand on their own, with a distinct beginning, middle, and most of all, end.

Neumeier's novel absolutely achieves that goal.

But I loved the book on its own merits, too, apart from my personal requirements for novels.

Neumeier's writing consists of nearly poetic language, though
Dec 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Once upon a time...

OK, it doesn't really start that way, but it could as well have.
We're transported in a magical enchanted land with mages and kings and princes and a talking snake oh, and death personified as the Hunter.
The good guys are good and the bads guys are bad, and the ones that don't fit into the good or bad category but somewhere in the middle, like that snake I was telling about and the Hunter.
Overall, it's a nice fairy tale without any unicorns or dragons, it has a beginning where
Oct 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: magic
When Timou's father, the mage Kapoen, disappears on a journey to find the missing heart of the Kingdom, Timou follows his footsteps to find the heirs to the kingdom. She encounters a prescence in the forest that is more powerful than she knows, and Timou slowly begins to understand so of her past.

More than a simple tale of a young mage on a quest for power, The City in the Lake is sprawling, carefully written look into the complicated lives of parents, ambitions, love, and much more. The fact t
May 22, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
A sweet and mystical fantasy that felt like an early Patrica A. McKillip story. Prettily written with a couple of decent protagonists and a big, bad evil that will soon smother their world.

All in all I quite liked this book but felt some of the characters fell a bit flat. I wasn't interested in Jonas at all and I wanted to know more about the dark Hunter.

But a valiant attempt and one that I quite appreciated it.
Jul 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: other-ebooks
I wanted to like this book much more than I did. It has so much good stuff - beautiful, elegant writing, fascinating characters, a truly horrible villain, loads of symbolism and use of folklore, the layered Cities...and yet, somehow, it didn't quite manage to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

Still, it was a nice book if not a great one.
katayoun Masoodi
Feb 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, ebook
maybe 3 1/2, maybe the reason for the missing half a star for me was there were times that i thought things were a bit too long and i was getting maybe a bit bore, and the characters were not as clear and fleshed out that i liked, but then maybe. and the reason that it's rounded to 4 and not 3 is that it was a lovely story, interesting tale and an enjoyable time spent reading it.
Aug 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Simply a beautiful tale. Elegant, lyrical language, fine details of the world building and the characters, and interesting unexplained just believe it. A quick read and an entertaining story. Reminiscent of Patricia A. McKillip. Lovely.
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed reading this book. It felt like watching a fairytale with each step revealing more magic and mystery.

The kingdom is dying. All the babies are stillborn from animal to humans. It's up to Timou’s to find out why.

Honestly I didn't really understand the mages power. It seemed ridiculously easy to take over the kingdom and it's magic: kidnap and imprison the heir, and birth two children and wait. It didn't really make sense that only Timou’s father was the only one that knew to look in the
Kell Andrews
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
“I don’t understand anything.”

That’s Timou 10 pages before the end of this book. It’s also me. This book reminds me of the beauty and dreamlike quality of Patricia McKillip, who often baffles me as well.

May 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Enjoyed it, but not amazing like some of Neumeier's books.
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Weird and mysterious and magical.
A lovely fairy tale, mostly accessible magic.
Clare Haenni
Oct 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was amazing and utterly captivating to the end
May 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, magic, fantasy
This book had a lot of interesting ideas in it but was not executed well. And there were some things that were plain old weird.

First, Lord Neill's nickname. Since I don't swear, I'll only say it once: "Lord Bastard." Seriously? I mean, this book is a young adult book. Great way to encourage bad language simply because it's an accurate term to describe Lord Neill by.

Second, the storyline got all convoluted. I was able to follow along, but not easily or naturally. One moment, the main character, T
Nov 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of Robin McKinley, Patricia McKillip
The Kingdom's heart is the City. The City's heart is the King. The King's heart is the Prince. And the Prince is missing--stolen, vanished, gone. And ever since he vanished, nothing has been right in the Kingdom. New life is stillborn, and there is a shadow that lies across everything. Everyone in the Kingdom can feel it.

Timou, in her remote village, can feel it too. Solemn, strange Timou, daughter of the mage Kapoen, has trained at her father's side for her entire life, and she can feel the wro
Maureen E
Feb 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult

by Rachel Neumeier

Opening line: “The City is beautiful at sunset, almost as beautiful as the Lake itself.”

There is a City which is built on a Lake. And “At the moment between sunset and dark, the wind off the Lake sometimes dies and the air becomes utterly still. If that pause lasts long enough, it is said, the water becomes a mirror in which a man may see his true face reflected, as well as the reflection of the eternal City.” The City is the heart of the Kingdom. The King is the heart of the C
Mar 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
I first read The City in the Lake last summer and instantly fell in love. Neumeier’s style in this particular book is rich and flowing, reminiscent of Robin McKinley’s prose. The book reads heavily though, and it wasn’t always easy to absorb. Most of the characters rarely say what they mean outright, so the reader has to do some interpretation between the lines.

The story itself is entertaining, and certainly has enough plot twists to keep the reader’s interest, but the world-building and charact
Dec 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
When the Prince vanishes, the kingdom is in turmoil. The Prince is the heart of the City, and with its heart missing, the ordinary things of life are beginning to suffer. Timou knows nothing of the Prince, nor has she ever been to the City. But her village still feels the repercussions. Her father, who went to investigate, has not returned. So, despite his warnings, she heads out.

This is a breathtaking creation of myth and magic, where an unnamed City in an unnamed Kingdom reflects up from a Cit
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Breia "The Brain" Brickey for

The story begins with the disappearance of a Prince. The heart of the Kingdom is the City, the heart of the City is the King, and the heart of the King is the Prince. After the disappearance of the Prince, many things go wrong, from the city to the farthest outlying villages.

Timou lives in a remote village where her father is a powerful mage. When the damage to the Kingdom becomes too much for them to ignore, Timou's father, Kapoen, make
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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