The City in the Lake by Rachel Neumeier is a booked that I bought based on the joint recommendation of the Book Smugglers. The premise was interesting and based on the Smugglers’ review, it seemed like the kind of YA fantasy that I could really sink my teeth into. Plus, I heard from both Charlotte and Chelle that they also enjoyed reading this one so that sealed the deal.
Here’s the summary from Rachel Neumeier’s website:
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.
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 for the mother that she never knew. I’m going to start with the things that I liked in this book. It was easy to fall into the world created by Rachel Neumeier, I didn’t have a hard time reading this book. I liked both Timou and the Bastard as characters, which is a good thing since the point of view of the story changes from one character to another. Timou isn’t your typical YA fantasy heroine because her strength lies in her powers as a mage. I enjoyed being inside Timou’s head because I think the author did a good job of portraying how a mage’s mind works – how a mage sees his or her surroundings and how that is tied to the magic in the world. I also liked the Bastard because he was such a subtle character – he’s powerful in his own way and the people aren’t sure what to make of him, they don’t understand whether he’s good or evil and if he has anything to do with the disappearance of his half-brother.
However, I was already halfway through the book when I realized that it wasn’t as compelling as I would’ve liked. I kept waiting to be blown away but it just didn’t happen. It’s really a shame because when I think about it, there isn’t anything wrong with the book, it’s just that I didn’t feel like it was strong enough to pull me in and hold me, you know? I knew it wouldn’t have much staying power and I guess I was right because it’s been a few days since I’ve read this and I can’t recall all of the details anymore. I don’t know if it’s because my expectations were too high but I’m sad that I didn’t like it as much as I was hoping to. As always, I encourage the rest of you epic fantasy readers to give this one a try even if I had a lukewarm reaction to it because based on the other reviews that I linked below, I’m in the minority with how I felt.
This book is one of my entries in the Once Upon a Time challenge.