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The Keeper of the Mist by Rachel Neumeier
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The Keeper of the Mist (2016)

by Rachel Neumeier

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601197,694 (3.5)3
  1. 00
    Chalice by Robin McKinley (Herenya)
    Herenya: Certain similarities in the worldbuilding, and both stories are about dealing with unexpected responsibilities and learning on the job about the magic abilities which are part and parcel of that.
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This is a beautifully written fantasy novel about power and unexpected responsibility, friendship and magic.

When the Lord of Nimmira dies, two unexpected things happen: his position passes to Keri the baker, his unacknowledged teenage daughter, rather than any of his grown sons, and the mists protecting Nimmira’s borders begin to fade.
Keri is confronted with her new duties, older half-brothers who are sceptical of her competence, the arrival of Outside visitors eager to take advantage and the mystery of the failing mists. But she does not have to face all her challenges alone: her oldest friends are her Bookkeeper and Doorkeeper, and the ancient Timekeeper may be an ally.

I fell in love with The Keeper of the Mist from the opening scene - from the opening of the opening scene, before the plot begins. The prose was lovely and the characterisation was lively, filling me with confidence that this story was being told by an excellent storyteller.

But I think it was also because that scene - in which Keri decorates a cake (and internally reflects on the challenges of running a bakery), while she and Tassel speculate about the state of affairs in Nimmira - captures important elements of the story. The girls’ interest in the wellbeing of their kingdom; their warm uncomplicated friendship (and the subtler complexities of Keri’s relationship with Cort); Keri’s careful attention to detail, determination to do her job well and perseverance when not everyone in her community supports her.

The worldbuilding reminded me of Robin McKinley’s Chalice, which is a favourite of mine. There’s definitely a McKinley-ish vibe to this, while at the same time managing to be completely its own thing.

Clearly I need to read more by Rachel Neumeier.

She wondered what she should do, or say, or think. The necessities of the succession had contained them all and carried them forward, but the familiar ritual had ended now. Her anger had broken with it, somehow. They were all left bewildered, like fish stranded in strange waters by an ebbing flood, to manage their own affairs as best they might. She looked around the bakery kitchen, as though it might contain cues for her about what came next. But the jars of flour and oil and sugar, the little wooden boxes of salt and potash, told her nothing. ( )
1 vote Herenya | Jan 18, 2017 |
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