When I go to conventions, I usually come home with more books than I brought. Most will come from the dealer’s room. Sometimes they can come from the free table. Other times, well, there are other options. There is an Author Guest of Honor, but they are not the only writer to frequent the con, as many use it as a way to promote themselves and sell their work. They’ll certainly be at the signing table, but they may also choose to get a table in the dealer’s room, or to be on panels. That’s how I first came across Rachel Neumeier.
I can’t tell you what the panel was, because I’ve seen her on several – she’s usually at the cons I attend and is fairly active when it comes to panels. She’s a smart, informed woman and always offers interesting thoughts to the discussion. And, being an author, she’ll always promote a book or two when she’s introduced. On this particular occasion she had two with her. One I don’t recall, and the other that she described as a fairy tale.
I love fairy tales. I asked her about the book after the panel. She signed it to me and gave it to me. Cue my total surprise and pleasure as I acquired The City in the Lake.
Then I got a good look at the cover – something that’s not easy to see halfway across a room, regardless of whether it’s the size of a classroom or a third of a ballroom. This cover is gorgeous. Stylistically, it reminds me of a woodblock print or an old etching. The amount of detail is amazing. And the colors! Sunsets have such beautiful colors and they really shine here. I love looking at this cover.
Now, I was told that this story is a fairy tale. But I promise you, this is no tale you’ve ever heard before. After all, “fairy tale” refers to a type of story, a particular feel and flow. Just because it’s not old enough to be in the Grimm’s collection or famouse enough to be a Disney movie doesn’t negate the identification. The City in the Lake is indeed a fairy tale. A new one dreamed up by Neumeier.
It’s more personable than most of the old fairy tales – being a full novel, it would have to be. The characters have names and personalities along with their traits and roles. There’s still things that seem random and have merely “fairy tale logic” to carry them, but they make sense within the story and bind the tale together. And the quaintest, sweetest expression of love I’ve ever heard of. The villagers in this book speak of “seeing someone’s face in every rain and dewdrop.” Given the nature of the book, this could be a metaphor or simply be taken at face value. Either way, I think it’s very touching.
As you can no doubt tell, I whole-heartedly love this book. I actually got a chance to mention to Neumeier’s brother how pleased I was to have it a month or so after acquiring it. (This was totally random, but I was at a game day and he was there too; friends of friends in the con scene can do that.) I really should look into more books by her though. My only real concern on that front is that The City in the Lake does stand alone and from what I’ve heard her say, it is fairly distinct from the rest of her work. Still, that doesn’t mean I’ll dislike everything else she’s written and I should pick something else and just read it. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time I found a new author by reading a standalone and found far more than that to enjoy.