9 Rated Books Book Reviews Giveaways Joint Review

Joint Review & Giveaway: The City in the Lake by Rachel Neumeier

Title: The City in the Lake

Author: Rachel Neumeier

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Publisher: Afred A. Knopf
Publication Date: June 2008 (original) / March 2011 (reprint)
Hardcover & Paperback: 304 Pages

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, including the idyllic village where Timou is learning to be a mage under her father’s tutelage.

When Timou’s father journeys to the City to help look for the Prince, but never returns, Timou senses that the disturbance in the Kingdom is linked to her—and to the undiscovered heritage of the mother she never knew. She must leave her village, even if it means confronting powers greater than her own, even though what she finds may challenge everything she knows. Even if it means leaving love behind.

This breathtaking first novel spins a web of magic, bravery, and the power of love.

How did we get this book: Review Copies from the author

Why did we read this book: Thea has read and loved Rachel Neumeier’s work (see the recent review of the outstanding The Floating Islands), and both of us were intrigued by the synopsis for this re-release. Having been generously provided with review copies from the author, we decided that we simply *had* to do a joint review.


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 jaw-droppingly awesome. Not only is The City in the Lake the best book I’ve read from Rachel Neumeier to date, it’s also one of the best fantasy novels (YA or otherwise) that I’ve read in a long time. I loved this book.

Ana: Thea has been raving about Rachel Neumeier’s books for a while now and I was in tenterhooks to finally try one and decided that City in the Lake was a good place to start and OH MY GOD, I was so not prepared for how awesome this book is. Prose, setting, story, characters, everything is top notch and I too loved this book.

On the Plot:

Thea: The Kingdom’s heart is the City. The City’s heart is the King. In the strange city on the lake, old and powerful magic unites the kingdom and keeps it hale and strong. The Bastard, named Neill and the eldest son of the ruling King, has always known that his role in the kingdom is one relegated to the sidelines. In a younger time, the King was seduced by a beautiful and mysterious woman who gave birth to Neill and disappeared from the kingdom. When the King eventually married and his wife, the Queen, bore a healthy, strong son, Neill quickly become known as simply The Bastard. Despite his title, Neill has never been resentful of his younger half-brother Cassiel – like everyone else in the kingdom, The Bastard loves Cassiel. When the prince goes missing one day after a hunt with his friends, Neill is called upon by his angry father and distraught stepmother to find the errant crown heir, but to no avail. Without the heir present, the kingdom is without its heart and begins to suffer – life grinds to a slow halt, animals and even humans are born dead. The curse spreads to the furthest reaches of the kingdom, where a young girl named Timou lives in a small village with her powerful mage father, Kapoen. When Kapoen leaves the village to seek the cause of the stillbirths and does not return, Timou fears the worst, and sets out on the path to the City at the heart of the kingdom to find him. Here, at the City above the Lake, Timou and The Bastard’s destinies collide. A great evil lurks in the City, and Timou and Neill hold the key to the Kingdom’s salvation, but also its undoing…

I absolutely adored The City in the Lake for so many reasons, from its wonderful worldbuilding to its sweeping prose. From a storytelling perspective, The City in the Lake is a dark and lushly evocative fairy tale of a novel, with a greedy sorceress, ancient magic, and powerful creatures that are neither good nor evil but rather part of the overall balance of forces that comprise this strange and wondrous kingdom. There are many different levels to the plot, as the story alternates between three characters – Lord Bastard, Timou, and Jonas – and each of these characters plays a pivotal role in the ultimate conclusion of the novel. In the City, Neill struggles with the distrust that springs up around him (as many accuse him of attempting to steal the throne for himself and suspect him of orchestrating his brother’s disappearance). On her father’s trail, Timou must find her own strength and travel through an oppressive, haunted wood to find her heart’s true desire. And following Timou, a haunted young man named Jonas struggles with the nightmares that plague him, and must decide whether or not to go after his unrequited love. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but on every level of the narrative, The City in the Lake works beautifully.

On the negative side, the kingdom and its many different dimensions may be a little confusing for newer readers of fantasy, and perhaps some readers will be turned off by the metaphysical aspects of this book (particularly by the book’s climactic scenes). But not me. I loved The City in the Lake in all its luminous abstractness. Plus, with writing this poetic, lush and evocative, I can hardly complain. Rachel Neumeier’s writing in this book is reminiscent of Juliet Marillier and Patricia McKillip – two fantasy authors whom I love and hold in the highest regard.

Ana: I have to agree with everything that Thea says. The City in the Lake is a wonderful, original fairytale in terms of story whilst having a distinct traditional feel with regards to its prose. Plot-wise, it follows three distinct characters, each on their own journeys and all of them are beautifully executed to the point where I can’t tell which was my favourite but perhaps that point is moot since the three storylines converge in the end. What is the most striking aspect of the novel is how it effectively combines those parallel, personal narratives with the overarching story of a Kingdom that has existed for a long, long time and in different dimensions as well (sort of). Not only that, but the story has elements of Quest, of Vengeance, of Romance, of Adventure and with different aspects of Magic and History and it never, ever feels like it is too much because it is all so beautiful and truly magical. It might sound as though I am committing the unforgivable sin of being too cheesy but really, the story is beautiful even when it is sad and dark.

On the Characters:

Thea: As with the storytelling and plot, the characters in The City in the Lake also shine, from the three protagonists, to the solid cast of secondary characters. When Ana and I started reading this book, there were flurries of emails back and forth about how much we loved The Bastard, Timou and Jonas, and this unabashed love for the characters sustained until the end of the book. Each of these protagonists have their own depths, backstories and formative experiences, although some of them overlap. I loved the absentee mother theme that connects both Neill and Timou, as well as the strength of familial bonds and responsibilities that unite them. As for Jonas, his own dark past (and darker future) are the stuff of excellent fantasy. Even the secondary characters, of the King, Prince, and Queen, and other members of the court, are beautifully textured and have believable motivations (especially the Queen in her feelings towards Neill).

As for The Villain – well, this character is pretty nasty, but not simply evil for evil’s sake (which would be rather disappointing). Rather, this villain is greedy for power, spoiled with it, and never understanding nor caring for the consequences of their actions. And the villain’s unflinchingness? I thought it was awesome (I mean, scary but also awesome).1 Not to mention, there’s room for more in this same universe. The villain comes to an end off-screen, which leaves me wondering as to how safe the kingdom really is. What of the much-alluded to but never present Deserisien? Could he make a possible appearance at some point in the future? For a villain as far-thinking as the one in The City in the Lake, I’m certain there might be a contingency plan for failure in the works. I am greedy and I want MORE.

Ana: I can’t begin to express how much I loved the characters – protagonists and secondary – of this book and how much their story arcs were amazing. I mean, it plays with every single one of my favourite tropes. There we have the determined heroine who wants to find her father, the wronged yet goodhearted young man, the hero who sets out after his love and meets with the Unexpected. And then each of them has to overcome obstacles both internal and external. I loved how Timou spend her whole life living by her father’s lessons and then when push comes to shove she had to make her own decisions as to whether those lessons would work for her or not; similarly with The Bastard who lived under a whole plethora of expectations and had to decide whether to meet them or surpass them. Whereas both Timou and the Bastard had to deal very real, concrete problems (even as they were surrounded by magic) , Jonas’ quest takes him on a much more supernatural path (which had real and concrete repercussions) which as Thea says, is stuff of excellent fantasy. I was reminded at every turn of Juliet Marillier’s fantasy novels which is the highest form of compliment I can think of and I demand MOARS as well.

Final Thoughts, Observations & Rating:

Thea: I cannot believe I had not heard of this book earlier, and it’s a damn shame how unacknowledged it is. From opening sentence to bittersweet farewell, I loved The City in the Lake and recommend it to readers young and old alike. For fans of Juliet Marillier, Patricia McKillip, Robin McKinley, and Sharon Shinn, looking for that next fix of luscious, romantic, flawless fantasy? Look no further – Rachel Neumeier’s The City in the Lake is for you. Easily, one of the best books I have read in 2011 and in the running for my year end top 10.

Ana: Word, Thea. I can’t believe I never heard about this book before and I wish more people would read it. I don’t think I have read a YA Fantasy as good as this in ages and wouldn’t be surprised if it made my top 10 as well.

Notable Quotes/Parts: From Chapter 1:

The City is beautiful at sunset, almost as beautiful as the Lake itself. The waters of the Lake run with crimson and flame-orange and deep lavender as the sun sinks beyond its farther shore, colors pouring across the water all the way to Tiger Bridge. At that moment the exotic lilies carved into the Bridge, crumbling with age, look whole and alive in the moving light and cerulean shadows.

But after darkness falls, it will be the tigers of the Bridge that look real and alive. They shake themselves out of stone and come down from their pedestals, the lambent fires of sunset in their eyes, to stalk on great velvet paws through the night—so it is said.

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. Few would linger at Tiger Bridge to look into the still Lake at that moment, both because truth can be a dangerous thing and because of the tigers that wake out of stone in the night. But that is the story that people in the City tell.

That, at least, is a true story. The Bastard, who did not fear velvet-footed hunters, came to Tiger Bridge sometimes to watch the sun set and look into the glass-still Lake. The face he saw in the water was indeed not the face the simple mirror in his Palace apartments reflected. The Bastard could not have explained even to himself where, precisely, the difference lay. But it was to try to find out that he came to Tiger Bridge.

The Bastard had a name: Neill. He had a place in the court as elder brother to Prince Cassiel and son of Drustan, who was King. But he was not the son of Ellis, the Queen. The Bastard’s mother had been a woman who had wandered into the City and the King’s bed from some far country beyond the shores of the Lake, beyond the farthest borders of the Kingdom. She had given her son her fine ivory skin, her ash-pale hair, and her dark secretive eyes. And she had given him a heritage that ran outside the bounds of the Kingdom, a mixed blessing at best.

The woman had lived in the City for a season, for a year—long enough to carry and bear the King’s son. Then she had walked out of the City. Though I go, this child will keep my presence always near you, she had said to the King, laying the baby in his hands—so the tale went. May he flourish in this Kingdom.

Possibly the King did not appreciate reminders of his dalliance, especially once he married his Queen. It was well known he did not favor his illegitimate first-born son. Still, if he did not love Neill, he acknowledged him and kept him close to power. Kings have no need to be ashamed of the evidence of their indiscretions as other men may, and more than one royal bastard has grown up to rule when all the children born on the right side of the blanket have been sickly, or girls. From childhood, then, the court had called the boy Lord Neill to his face with careful deference, and, behind his back, sometimes with no less respect, Lord Bastard.

When the Bastard was twelve years old, the true Prince was born, merry and bold even as a baby and beloved by all the City. By that time, folk in both the Palace and the City had learned well the habit of respect toward his elder half brother. The Bastard, even as a child, had a way of keeping his own secrets while finding out the secrets of others, and although he spoke softly, he never forgot a slight. So people said in the court. And that story, too, was true.

The Bastard watched the sun sink below the Lake, sending fire across the water, and waited for the wind to die. But the quiet on this night did not last long enough for the waves to grow still, and so the Lake did not turn into a mirror. The Bastard was, however, philosophical about small disappointments. He turned away from the Bridge, pausing for a brief moment to study the stone tigers before walking away. They were still stone under his gaze. After he turned his head . . . who knew what they might become? The Bastard walked back across the City to the Palace. Once he might have heard the soft pad of a great cat, but though he stopped in the street to look patiently into the dark for one shadow softer-footed and more dangerous than others to separate itself from the night, he saw nothing.


Thea: 9 – Damn Near Perfection

Ana: 9 – Damn Near Perfection

Reading Next: Broken by Susan Jane Bigelow


In honor of the old hardcover version and the new paperback reprint, TWO lucky winners will have the chance to win either the old or the new version of The City in the Lake! The contest is open to participants in the US and Canada only, and will run until Saturday, March 19, 2011 at 11:59 PM (PST). In order to enter, all you have to do is leave a comment here letting us know who is your favorite YA fantasy heroine! Multiple entries and/or duplicate comments will be automatically disqualified. Good luck!

  1. I apologize for the very cloak and dagger commentary but truly, you don’t want to be spoiled


  • Kawaiiwriting
    March 11, 2011 at 5:33 am

    Ugh. This is a hard one. I am currently very enamored with the Moorehawke trilogy, so I’m going to go with Wynter Moorehawke. She’s sassy, strong, and self-reliant. Also, I love that she’s a redhead.

    (Hopefully that qualifies as YA– I know there was a lot of debate on how to classify the Moorehawke trilogy.)

  • Chachic
    March 11, 2011 at 5:40 am

    Don’t enter me in the contest but I just wanted to say that you guys made me call the bookstore right after I finished reading your review to see if this is locally available. IT IS! Yay, I’ll go buy it tomorrow as it’s already night time here.

  • Lisa
    March 11, 2011 at 5:44 am

    My favorite YA fantasy heroine is Maerad from the books of Pellinor by Alison Croggon 🙂

  • Cheri H.
    March 11, 2011 at 6:59 am

    My favorite YA heroine is Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games trilogy!

  • Rene
    March 11, 2011 at 7:23 am

    Oh man. I love the eponymous Sunshine, Mae from Demon’s Lexicon, Katherine Campion from The Privilege of the Sword… hard to stop. 🙂

  • Kaethe
    March 11, 2011 at 7:45 am

    I’m reading Tender Morsels today, so Urdda is strongly in the running, but Flora Segunda is actually the one who sprang immediately to my mind. It is hard to stop, isn’t it?

  • Dana
    March 11, 2011 at 7:57 am

    My favorite as of late is Sorcha from Daughter of the Forest

  • Susanna
    March 11, 2011 at 8:06 am

    Harry (Angharad) Crewe, from Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword. I love her strength of character, her bravery, and the way she handles being shoved into a new life and identity. She’s kind of awesome 🙂

  • Fig
    March 11, 2011 at 8:13 am

    I could sit and think about this question all day, but I’m going to have to go with Daine Serrasri from Tamora Pierce’s Immortals books. Most of my friends like The Lioness best, for obvious reasons, but when I was 14 it was DAINE and TALKING TO ANIMALS and that’s pretty much stood the test of time.

  • Gladys
    March 11, 2011 at 8:30 am

    I haven’t read a ton of YA fantasy, but I really liked Sophie from Diana Wynne Jones’s Howl’s Moving Castle.

  • Tina
    March 11, 2011 at 8:46 am

    My favorite YA heroines are Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones and Attolia from the Queen’s Thief series.

  • Sarah C.
    March 11, 2011 at 8:53 am

    That’s such a difficult question! Hm. First favorite who comes to mind is Lynet from The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf, Gerald Morris’s retelling of a lesser-known tale from Le Morte d’Arthur.

  • azteclady
    March 11, 2011 at 8:54 am

    Wow, this really must be some book! 😀

    I don’t think that I qualify even to enter the giveaway, as I’ve read very, very little YA so far.

    However, of what little YA I have in fact read, Deuce (of Ann Aguirre’s upcoming Enclave) is my favorite.

  • Megan
    March 11, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Whoa, two 9s?? That’s quite the endorsement. I definitely want to check this one out now.

    Picking a favorite fantasy herione is hard and just reading the other comments is making me flip flop! A classic favorite of mine is Aeriel from the Darkangel books.

  • Michelle N.
    March 11, 2011 at 9:06 am

    My favorite ya heroine is Sybel from The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip. I read that book many times as a girl, and loved it every time. I’ve been meaning to order it for my daughter, and read it again myself.

  • srs
    March 11, 2011 at 9:09 am

    I hate anything where I have to pick just one favourite because I really don’t feel that it is possible. Everything I love is my favourite for different reasons and in different ways, so I usually go with whatever favourite is freshest in my mind.

    Obligatory disclaimer out of the way, I’ve been thinking a lot about Cynthia Voigt lately, (ever since the contest you had recently where people were supposed to name their favourite feminist author,) so I’m going to go with Gwyn from Jackaroo. It might be cheating slightly as some might argue that Jackaroo isn’t true fantasy (no magic, dragons, etc) but it is set in a time and place not our own, so I’ve decided that it counts.

  • Bohemienne
    March 11, 2011 at 9:20 am

    I love, love Sabriel. She’s so strong-willed without being bitter and feisty about it; she gives in to her sorrow at losing her father, but doesn’t let it consume her. Even when she falls in love, it’s so right! Even though I’m lukewarm on the Abhorsen trilogy as a whole, Sabriel as a character has always stuck with me.

  • Paige M.
    March 11, 2011 at 9:52 am

    I’m torn between Kate, from Erin Bow’s Plain Kate, and Kestrel Hath, from William Nicholson’s Wind on Fire series. And Mori Phelps, from Jo Walton’s Among Others, which I know, is only sort of YA, but I don’t care.

  • Marie
    March 11, 2011 at 9:53 am

    I read these when I was teenager and don’t know if she qualifies as YA, but I LOVE Menolly, from the Harper Hall series by Anne McCaffrey.

  • Kate N (YzhaBella)
    March 11, 2011 at 10:04 am

    I’ve not yet read very much YA Fantasy, so I can’t really comment on who my favorite heroin would be. =(

    The City in The Lake absolutely sounds like it is very much worth checking out!

  • draconismoi
    March 11, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Kel from the Protector of the Small. She freaking rocks!

    And I have to say, the new cover is meh. The old cover rocks, why would they change it to generic YA face zoom?

  • Katrina
    March 11, 2011 at 10:38 am

    I must say that the heroine who comes to mind right now is Harry from the Blue Sword. She makes me want deserts and swords and horses!

  • Lillian Maloney
    March 11, 2011 at 11:09 am

    I’m not sure if the Skulduggery Pleasant series counts, but Valkeryie Cain is my favorite fantasy heroine of the moment.

  • Su
    March 11, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Definitely Beka Cooper. I adored her tenacity, her loyalty and her fierce belief in the law.

    Thank you for the giveaway!

  • Alex
    March 11, 2011 at 11:24 am

    *Insert lament here about how freaking hard it is to narrow it down*

    … but I’d say that Aerin from The Hero and the Crown and Alanna from The Song of the Lioness have to be my top two.

  • Serena
    March 11, 2011 at 11:25 am

    I loved Lyra from Pullman’s His Dark Materials series. She’s a very human character with spunk and courage, but also has real flaws that the author doesn’t shy away from. Her decisions are not always right and she feels the consequences of them. But ultimately she makes huge sacrifices for the good of others.

  • Rachel
    March 11, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Sophie Hatter will always be my favorite YA fantasy heroine– actually, she might actually be my favorite fantasy heroine, period.

  • Ellie
    March 11, 2011 at 11:30 am

    I have too many favorites! I guess I’ll have to go with Katniss from The Hunger Games.

  • Alexandra
    March 11, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Well, I read through the comments and now I can’t decide between Sophie, Attolia and Harry…Sooooooo, I won’t.

    You said it was similar to the writings of three of my current favourite authors (Marillier, Shinn, and McKinley) so, if, somehow, I don’t win this, I might have to go get it myself.

  • Casey
    March 11, 2011 at 11:47 am

    My favorite is Lirael from Garth Nix’s Abhorsen trilogy. She is flawed, afraid, and an outcast. She proves the hero not only by braving the 9 gates of death but also by being willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.
    So many heors are strong, and determined, and beautiful, and I like them too – but Lirael was real and I identified with her self doubt, her search for her place in the world, and her fear. You should check it out if you haven’t already because it really is that good! Start with Sabriel and work your way through. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

  • Casey
    March 11, 2011 at 11:53 am

    My favorite is Lirael from Garth Nix’s Abhorsen trilogy. She is flawed, afraid, and an outcast. She proves the hero not only by braving the 9 gates of death but also by being willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.
    So many heroes are strong, and determined, and beautiful, and I like them too – but Lirael was real to me and I identified with her self doubt, her search for her place in the world, and her fear. You should check it out if you haven’t already because it really is that good! Start with Sabriel and work your way through. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

  • jenmitch
    March 11, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Thats a toughie. In the running are Katniss Everdeen (Hunger Games), Katsa (Graceling), Fire (Fire), Lyra (His Dark Materials), and Hermione (HP).

    Ok, I think I’ll go with Katniss, because she is so strong but also human, with weaknesses and flaws.

    In general, I totally love how females in YA fantasy are so bad ass and awesome, especially compared to many females in lots of non-YA fantasy/sci fi.

  • shayna
    March 11, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Beka Cooper from The Legend of Beka Cooper series by Tamora Pierce.

  • CH
    March 11, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    I’d love to be entered in this contest!

    My favorite heroine is not very original, by at the moment it’s Katniss, from the Hunger Games.

  • Brittney
    March 11, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    My current favorite heroine is Ember, out of Ember and Ash by Pamela Freeman – not sure if if it’s classified as YA or not, but I loved her strength and ability to be true to herself.

  • Sylvia Sybil
    March 11, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    My favorite YA fantasy heroine…this is hard. I’ll go with either Kel or Aly from Tamora Pierce’s books. Both very determined ladies who know what they want and go get it.

  • Scribe Kira
    March 11, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    thanks for the awesome contest!!!!
    my favorite fantasy YA heroine, as well as most favorite character of all time is Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games Trilogy and if you haven’t read them already, you should run out and buy because they’re AMAZING!!!!!!=o)
    😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

  • Beverly H.
    March 11, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    I’d have to say my favorite YA heroine is Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, but a close second is Lirael from Garth Nix’s novel Lirael. Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Jamie
    March 11, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    My favorite fantasy girl is definitely Lyra from His Dark Materials. Her generous heart, sharp mind, and adventurous spirit are offset by her very real pride and ignorance. Her personal journey moved me through a good five years of my own life.

  • Van P.
    March 11, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    favorite heroine in the YA genre is Rose from Richelle Mead’s vampire academy

  • Josephine
    March 11, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Wow, I can’t wait to read this book!

    My favourite heroine would have to be Daine, from the Wild Magic quartet by Tamora Pierce.

  • Maya S
    March 11, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    I can only choose one? I’ll have to go with Cimorene from Patricia C Wrede’s “Dealing with Dragons” series. I looooooooooooove her.

  • pscott
    March 11, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Oh man this is hard. I think I’m going to have to go with Arien from the Hero and the Crown. It was the first book I ever bought for myself with my own money. I saw a girl on a horse with a sword facing up against a dragon and it was love at first sight. I love that she is cranky, socially awkward with poor self esteem and still gets to save the day.

  • Katie A
    March 11, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    It’s a three-way tie between Alanna, Bekka, and Kel, all from Tamora Pierce’s Tortall series

  • Barb in Minn
    March 11, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    I’m going to say Lirael from Garth Nix’s Abhorsen trilogy. (Cuz she hasn’t been mentioned yet and my other choices I was trying to decided upon have been listed.)

  • Breanne M.
    March 11, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    As a ‘default’ because I can’t pick just one, pretty much every heroine from Tamora Pierce’s books.

  • Marie B.
    March 11, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Don’t think I could pick just one, but my most recent favorite is Cashore’s Fire.

    And boy, do I need to get my hands on City in the Lake – comparisons to Marillier, Shinn, etc reads like a list of my all-time favorite authors!

  • Marie B.
    March 11, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Don’t think I could pick just one, but my most recent favorite is Cashore’s Fire.

    And boy, do I need to get my hands on City in the Lake – comparisons to Marillier, Shinn, etc reads like a list of my all-time favorite authors! (Though I must say neither cover does anything for me.)

  • Marie B.
    March 11, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Eek, double-post fail, sorry!

  • Katie
    March 11, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    I read this a few months ago and also loved it. I would love to own a copy though. As for my favorite heroine I believe I’ll go with Yelena from the Study Series by Maria Snyder.

  • Kristen
    March 11, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Wow, this sounds fantastic!

    For my favorite YA heroine, I’m going to have to go with Fire from Kristin Cashore’s book by the same name.

  • Amy C
    March 11, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    My favorite fantasy YA heroine has to be Beka Cooper from Tamora Pierce’s Terrier series. 😀

  • Victoria Zumbrum
    March 11, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    I would have to say my favorite heroine is Bella from Twilight. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

  • Charlotte
    March 11, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    This was just about my favorite book of the year back in 2008–I’m glad to see it getting love!

    (no need to enter me, since I have my own copy)

  • winnie
    March 11, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    I haven’t read a lot of YA fantasy so I don’t really have a favourite heroine come to mind in that specific genre, but I can say that one of my favourite YA heroines would be Clary from the Mortal Instruments series.


  • Bethie
    March 11, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    My fav YA heroine is Nora from Hush Hush. Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Bahnree
    March 11, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Moiraine, from the Wheel of Time series. 😀

  • Lucia Hua
    March 11, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    Ohmigosh! Favorite YA fantasy heroine?! That’s possibly the hardest choice ever! I think… Hermione from Harry Potter. She’s strong, smart, and brave. Other choices would be Meghan from Iron Fey, Clary from The Mortal Instruments, and Katniss from The Hunger Games.


  • Jenn C.
    March 11, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    This is such a hard question! I want to say Liadan from the Sevenwaters series, since I just finished a reread of that series, or Mercy Thompson since that is what I’m currently reading, but neither series is actually YA; so I think its going to have to be a tie between Aerin from The Hero and the Crown and Sabriel of the Old Kingdom series.

  • Jasmine A S
    March 11, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    The only one I can spell of the top of my head would be Sophie, from Howl’s Moving Castle, so I’ll go with that choice from my many favorites.

  • Kate & Zena
    March 11, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    My favorite YA heroine is Deryn from Leviathan currently!

  • alex nguyen
    March 11, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    oh, it’s a toss up between aerin from The Hero and the crown, or Beauty from Beauty. Can you tell Robin McKinley was a big influence on me growing up? 🙂

  • Debbie
    March 11, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    I have to pick just one? Hmmm. Cimorene from The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, though I think she’s technically juvenile and not YA. She was the first strong, female heroine in a fantasy book that really struck a cord with me. I still love the books.

  • Stephanie K.
    March 11, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Katniss Everdeen is my favorite YA heroine.

  • Sarah Webb
    March 11, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    Harimad-sol was the first name that popped into my head, so I’ll go with that.

  • Elly
    March 11, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    Katniss Everdeen is my favorite YA fantasy character! Because she’s tough, she won’t let anyone do her job. And she loves her family.

  • Jufuzle19
    March 11, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    pick me its my birthday! haha my fav is most definitely Jenica in wildwood dancing!

  • Schneider
    March 11, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Lyra Belacqua from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, without question! And this sounds like a fantastic novel, so here’s to luck!

  • wade2121
    March 11, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    Clary from the Mortal Instruments is my favorite so far.

  • MaryK
    March 12, 2011 at 12:29 am

    You had me at “The City in the Lake is a dark and lushly evocative fairy tale of a novel” and sealed the deal with “For fans of Juliet Marillier, Patricia McKillip, Robin McKinley, and Sharon Shinn, looking for that next fix of luscious, romantic, flawless fantasy.”

    I saw the reprint on Amazon and wasn’t crazy about the cover but I’m liking it a lot better now that I’ve seen the original. 😕

    It wasn’t in stock when I tried to buy it at the store earlier today. So I’m going to enter the contest with the very unoriginal Beauty from McKinley’s Beauty. I’m not well read in Fantasy, (YA or otherwise) but I’ve read and loved McKinley and Shinn.

  • Butt-kicker heroine
    March 12, 2011 at 12:52 am

    Katniss and Sofie are my favorites. I can’t choose just one of them though coz I like them both for their unique qualities, which are similar though not quite.

    Thanks for the give away!! I hope I win 😀 this book sounds like one of those good reads that you’ll remember forever.

  • Meg
    March 12, 2011 at 3:53 am

    I would have to say Evanjalin from Melina Marchetta’s “Finnikin of the Rock”. What an amazing book with amazing characters. I am basically obsessed with that book and anything Marchetta writes. But, Finnikin of The Rock is my favorite and Evanjalin is soooo awesome! I want to go re-read it again just thinking about it 🙂

  • Stephanie
    March 12, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Gosh…this is hard. I guess my favorite would have to be Ellie Spencer from Karen Healey’s Guardian of the Dead. She’s strong and smart, yet has her flaws tha she clearly knows about. So, I would say Ellie.

  • KJ
    March 12, 2011 at 10:05 am

    My favorite YA heroine of all-time has to be Kel for the Protector of the Small series. I love that she has (almost) no magical help whatsoever, and has to fight and sweat for what she wants through every inch of the books.

  • Michelle
    March 12, 2011 at 10:18 am

    This one’s a bit old, but Princess Cimorene from Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede.

  • Priya
    March 12, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games trilogy for sure!

    Thanks for the opportunity =] This book looks fantastic.

  • Audra Holtwick
    March 12, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Katniss Everdeen is a fave of mine!

  • Courtney
    March 12, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Rose Hathaway-VA series.

  • Jen
    March 12, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    I didn’t even have to think twice about this one: Alanna from the Song of the Lioness quartet wins hands down. She captivated me from the start and hasn’t really let go since!

  • Lisa B.
    March 12, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Katniss Everdeen ALL. THE. WAY! Oh yeah.

  • Ariana A.
    March 12, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    I read the Darkangel Trilogy in the 90s, so my favorite YA heroine was Ariel. I love the fairytale style setting and telling of the first novel.

  • Lexi Busse
    March 12, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    My favorite heroine would have to be Keladry (Kel) Middelan from Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small series. Her determination and gumption inspire me to be stronger, faster, smarter. I wish I could train to be a knight like she was able to 😀 .

  • Melanie L
    March 12, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    I haven’t read a lot of YA fantasy yet, but my favorite so far is Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games trilogy.

  • Jill T.
    March 12, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Although I’m really not fond of her name, I really liked Bunce’s Digger from “Starcrossed.” She was pretty hilarious, wandering around and picking pockets, but I also sometimes felt a sense of loss from her.

  • Mary Catherine
    March 12, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Definitely Katniss from the hummer games, she’s strong and stands up for what she believes in. Her character also grows and matures a lot through the trilogy which I like.

  • Subette
    March 12, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    I would have to say my favourite fantasy heroine is Sorcha from Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the forest.

  • Dana
    March 13, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Count me in!

    My favorite YA Fantasy heroin is definitely Allana from Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books.

  • The Book Smugglers » Blog Archive » Smugglers’ Stash & News
    March 13, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    […] still have two giveaways currently running, for M.J. Putney’s Dark Mirror and Rachel Neumeier’s The City in the Lake. Make sure to enter if you haven’t […]

  • Isabel Fine
    March 13, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Alanna of Trebond is my favourite. I’ve read other books with good heroines (mostly written by Tamora Pierce), but to me Alanna is not only the most kickass of them all, but also the most human.

  • Jacqueline C.
    March 13, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    So far, my fave heroine in YA fantasy is Katsa from Kristin Cashore’s Graceling.

  • Susan
    March 13, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Mine is probably Stephanie Edgely/Valkyrie Cain from the Skulduggery Pleasant books. She’s WONDERFUL – she’s a very sensible, realistic character (her response to danger that she KNOWS is too much for is “Oh my god RUN!” and also periodically finding an adult to help her. Sometimes this works!) in a slightly Lovecraftian/urban fantasy setting, where she and the talking skeleton try to save the world. I love her so much. 😀

  • Book Bloggers Influence My Reading Choices « Chachic's Book Nook
    March 13, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    […] told the others that both Ana and Thea of The Book Smugglers loved it and gave it a rating of 9 in their joint review. Aaron asked, “so you’re going to buy a copy right away because of their review?” […]

  • Katy
    March 14, 2011 at 5:03 am

    I am so excited about this giveaway! My favorite heroine would have to be Katniss from The Hunger Games Trilogy…honorable mention goes to Alice from the Twilight Series.

  • shipa
    March 14, 2011 at 5:41 am

    Harry Crewe from THE BLUE SWORD, Kel and Beka Cooper from Tortall books, and Katsa from GRACELING are tied for me.

    I am so glad you suggested this book. I’ve been craving some good fantasy and this sounds perfect.

  • Celia
    March 14, 2011 at 8:22 am

    Favorite heroine in YA…hmmm…Beauty by Robin McKinley was one of my first YA reads and it has a special place in my heart. Katsa from Graceling is a close second though!

  • Lexi
    March 14, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Any Tamora Pierce heroine. I wanted to be all of the growing up.

  • Jackie
    March 14, 2011 at 11:44 am

    If Meg Murry from the Wrinkle in Time series counts, I’ve always liked her. And much love for Valkyrie Cain!

  • John
    March 14, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    My favorite heroine would be Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle. The perfect blend of realistic and romantic, she is adorable and enchants me to no end. <3

  • elizabeth
    March 14, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    My favorite would have to be Menolly from the Dragonsinger series (McCaffrey). I read these in school when I was 12 and still re-read them every couple years.

  • Franki
    March 14, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Kel from Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small series. She’s strong and doesn’t complain, and yet still manages to prove herself.

  • Jess Tudor
    March 14, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    How did I not already enter this? Oh, wait, I remember. I was going to be the first comment and the Random Number Generator NEVER picks 1. 🙂

    My favorite FANTASY heroine? Gosh. Fire? Cat Barahal? Hermione? They’re all great but in the end I’m sticking with Alanna. She was the first. 🙂

  • Sara
    March 15, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    My favorite YA fantasy heroine is Lyra Belaqua of His Dark Materials.

  • April
    March 15, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Very cool review! I definitely agree with Jess Tudor. My favorite YA heroine is still Alanna of Trebond.

  • Lisa Parkin
    March 15, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    My fav YA fantasy heroine is currently Katniss- that girl can kick some serious butt! 🙂

  • Carrie
    March 16, 2011 at 2:33 am

    A tie between Fire and Katsa, from Kristin Cashore’s books, “Fire” and “Graceling.” I love those books so much

  • Becky
    March 16, 2011 at 6:12 am

    Katniss is my current favorite heroine. I look forward to reading a really good new heroine.

  • soc_puppet
    March 16, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    I have to say that Kel from the Protector of the Small Quartet is absolutely my favorite heroine. She works hard and succeeds due to her own worth!

  • Kaya H
    March 17, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Gosh I enjoyed Katniss in the first two books of the Hunger Games a lot, then there is Rachel Morgan from Kim Harrison and Faythe from Rachel Vincent who all top my list.

  • Teri C
    March 17, 2011 at 10:47 am

    oh my number one favorite heroine would have to be Rachel Morgan from the Hallows series.

  • Dominique
    March 18, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Ahh! There are too many too choose from! Hmm….right now I’ve been re-reading Tamora Pierce’s books on Bekka Cooper… so I will go with her. Although Daine, Yelena and Sorcha really take a close second.

    And even though she isn’t YA (at least I don’t think), I’m in love with Phedre’s character from Kushiel’s Dart!

  • Andrea S
    March 18, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    It’s an old favorite, but Kelandry of Mindelan from Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small is still my favorite fantasy heroine.

  • The Leaning Pile of Books | Fantasy Cafe | Reviews of Fantasy and Science Fiction Books
    May 20, 2012 at 7:03 am

    […] Fantasy author Rachel Neumeier kindly sent me some of her books this week. They all sound really good, but I am most curious about this one (and it’s signed, yay!). I read the first page and really liked the writing style, and I’ve been wanting to read this ever since reading this review at The Book Smugglers. […]

  • Book Review: House of Shadows by Rachel Neumeier | The Book Smugglers
    July 10, 2012 at 10:13 am

    […] new favorite authors – I’ve read and basically loved all of her books (most especially The City in the Lake) – so when I learned of this forthcoming title, I was ecstatic. PLUS, a self-contained […]

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