The Keeper of the Mist, by Rachel Neumeier, for Timeslip Tuesday

The Keeper of the Mist, by Rachel Neumeier (Knopf, March 8 2016) isn't a time travel book, but there is an important part of the story that involves magical time tweaking that essential for making everything work out ok, and I decided that this time slippage is enough to count for my Timeslip Tuesday purposes.

The basic plot of The Keeper of the Mist is one that many fantasy readers will find familiar--a young person unexpectedly becoming the next ruler of their land, and having to cope with problems ranging from the internal ordering of household/court affairs to the dealing with dangerous external  threats of predatory neighboring kingdoms and the like.  In this case, Keri knew she was the bastard daughter of the lord of Nimmira, and she had let herself daydream from time to time about ending up the heir.   But in the meantime, she had her bakery to keep going after her mother's death, and lots of beautiful cakes to make (good cake descriptions!).

Then the Timekeeper of the old Lord comes to tell her that her father is dead, and that Nimmira has chosen her to be its Lady, and Keri isn't given a chance to say no.  Nimmira needs her to keep stable the curtain of magical mist that shields it from the sight, and the minds, the two neighboring kingdoms, both of whom would love to swallow it up.  The Timekeeper is one of three positions, imbued with magic, that support Nimmira's rulers, and the roles of Gatekeeper and Bookkeeper fall, through the magic of the land, to two of Keri's childhood friends, so at least she is not alone in figuring out the magic and responsibilities of her new position.

But the mist that protects Nimmira is becoming dangerously thin; thin enough so that men from each of the two neighboring countries has made their hungry way into its fertile, magic-filled valleys.  Keri isn't given much time to get used to her new position, and the various nasty legacies of her father, before she has to come up with a plan to restore the mist and get rid of the enemies, in the face of formidable enemy magic, and it is all very tense.

The Keeper of the Mist is one I think I will enjoy more the second time around. This first time through, right inside of the thick of the tenseness along with Keri, it was awfully hard to be relaxed and happy and delight in the fascinating magic (the Bookkeeper's helpful magic is the best--whenever she needs a particular book she just happens to find it, and she never looses her pen, but the Gatekeeper's magic is awfully fascinating too, and the Timekeepers, and Keri's own connection with the land is rather nice as well).  So anyway, even though I peeked at the end, it still wasn't enough to keep me from being tense.  Because most of the time Keri is desperately trying to figure out what she should be doing in rather difficult, potentially life ending, situations, and she has to save not just herself, but her whole country.

And then the Timekeeper's magic comes into play, giving Keri and her companions the time they need...and there is a happy ending, although, much as I appreciate a good understated romance, I wouldn't have minded a bit more...

So if you don't have patience for books that are really close third person, when that person does not have a clear grasp of things, and is thinking about them rather frantically for much of the book, this might not be your cup of tea.  But it's one I'd unhesitatingly recommend to fans of Robin McKinley (at times I though  bit of The Blue Sword, at times a bit of Chalice).  And one I'd recommend to fans of strange magics that don't flash in pyrotechnics but are old and intricate and surprising.  And one I'd recommend to readers wanting strong friendships between young women that are truly supportive.

It's not my personal favorite of Rahcek Neumeier's books (that would be House of Shadows--which I reviewed here, more enthusiascially just about than I have ever reviewed any book ever) but it's one I liked lots and plan to keep on hand for the day when I read all 400 books on my tbr and can become a rereader again...

I'm not sure I've done a good job here, so here's Maureen's take on the book at By Singing Light.

Disclaimer: review copy received from the author


  1. Oh, I think I like your review almost more than mine, actually! Great description of the magics.

  2. I have been meaning to read this author and still have not. One of these days!


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