HOUSE OF SHADOWS
Though the trajectory of the plot isn’t immediately obvious, it hardly matters as the seaside kingdom of Lonne so vividly comes to life with its enchanted instruments, geisha-like keiso houses and mysterious magecraft. Fusing the keiso world, reminiscent of ancient Japan, with a traditional fantasy setting keeps the tale fresh and full of intrigue. Once the paths of three very different but equally compelling main characters cross, the book clips along, and the plot unfolds in a way that intensifies the beauty and mythology of this magic-fueled world.
To support their family after their father’s death, sisters Nemienne and Karah are both sold: the otherworldly Nemienne to a respected mage, and the beautiful, buoyant Karah to Cloisonné House. Leilis, a former keiso ruined by a jealous deisa (a keiso in training), takes Karah under her wing, but both find themselves ensnared in a plot to kill the prince of Lonne. Taudde, a bardic sorcerer from rival country Kalches, takes some of the blame for the assassination attempt, but his alliances shift as the plan goes awry. Searching for the truth behind the plot, the characters have dark revelations about their world. (ORBIT, Jul., 352 pp., $14.99)