Be warned: Don’t read this review of “Keeper of the Mist” by Rachel Neumeier unless you are fine with spoilers!
I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing “Keeper of the Mist” by Rachel Neumeier! Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:
“Keri has been struggling to run her family bakery since her mother passed away. Now the father she barely knew—the Lord of Nimmira—has died, and ancient magic has decreed that she will take his place as the new Lady. The position has never been so dangerous: the mists that hide Nimmira from its vicious, land-hungry neighbors have failed, and Keri’s people are visible to strangers for the first time since the mists were put in place generations ago.
At the same time, three half-brothers with their own eyes on the crown make life within the House just as dangerous as the world outside. But Keri has three people to guide her: her mysterious Timekeeper, clever Bookkeeper, and steadfast Doorkeeper. Together they must find a way to repair the boundary before her neighbors realize just how vulnerable Nimmira is.”
Minor side comments:
I must be honest: The fact that Keri was ripped away from her life as a baker was very much wasted potential. We could have seen the magical world around her through a regular person’s point of view if Keri remained a baker. Also, we would have had many delicious-sounding baking scenes, and I would actually and sincerely love to see how the world and what happens in the book ends up affecting her fellow friends and family, as well as herself and her baking business. However, that is not how the plot went, and for this I am very sad. However, while we’re on plot:
Plot development: 4 out of 5
Worldbuilding Development: 3.5 out of 5 stars
I will admit that a lot of the plot focuses on inside politics and the storyline of Keri getting used to her new life as the Lady of Nimmira. If you’re someone who expected action and big battles in this book, this is not the one for you to read. However, if you absolutely love politics, intrigue, and political corruption with mainly a dash of action at the end, you will definitely enjoy the main story. The main complaints I have about this plot, however, is that it feels a bit too rushed at the end to tie any loose ends.
As for worldbuilding, I felt that the worldbuilding regarding how the magic of Nimmira worked, as well as the how the roles of Timekeeper, Lord of Nimmira, etc. could use clearer explanation and could also be explained sooner. However, what I did understand of the worldbuilding was interesting to explore, especially once we see how it’s tied to the political positions of the world as well.
Character relationships: 4 out of 5
I found the dynamic between Keri and her brothers to be interesting, but I was hoping for more depth. Keri and Lucas have the best interactions, as Lucas is not only welcoming to her at first, but actually lends a helping hand while she’s adjusting to her new role. This quickly helps to solidify a close bond between the two, and I really enjoyed reading the multiple interactions they had as a result. Though I feared that Lucas might betray Keri, that didn’t end up happening, much to my relief as a reader.
Brann quickly bows out of the story by halfway through the book simply because he was jealous of Keri becoming Lady while he expected to be Lord all this time, only for him to come back and be the expected traitor (which, sadly, was not the best plot twist to throw in there because it was obvious from the beginning). Unfortunately, he did not get much development other than this.
Domeric was someone I never really sympathized with, either, especially when he attempts using a sexist excuse for him to take over being the Lord of Nimmira, claiming that Keri being a girl automatically makes her not ‘man of the world’ enough for her to properly rule Nimmira. This is awkwardly ironic, given the earlier reveal in the book that the past Lord of Nimmira, Keri and the brothers’ own father, did an absolutely horrible job of doing his duty in ruling Nimmira. Also, I highly doubt Domeric would’ve done a much better job than Keri. Kudos to Linnet and Tassel, two of Keri’s closer confidantes and friends, to stand up to him (and Keri herself does a good job of asserting herself as Lady). However, Domeric does better redeem himself a little later in the book, helping Keri out against the main antagonist Eroniel.
In terms of writing style, I noticed that both passive and active verbs were present, often in the same paragraphs. I think some of the politics and the actions of the characters would sound better if put into active verbs. I also felt that the physical descriptions of characters often acted too much as a laundry list at times, as we’d have long paragraphs of their clothes and hair and such. Other than these two pointers, however, the pacing of the story was good overall.
Use of plot twists: 4 out of 5
Individual character development: 3 out of 5
Brann betraying Keri and the others in this book was incredibly obvious after he left Keri and the others halfway through the books in the first place, and didn’t do much to bolster his character development. Lucas being ultimately the most loyal to Keri, however, was a twist I didn’t expect. Part of me actually assumed that Lucas would be the one to betray Keri, like in one of those keep-your-enemies-closer type of character arcs by being nice to them straight up, but nope. Lucas was the nicest brother (with some of him trying to make excuses to get out of some things, but he does ultimately work with Keri the best overall). Domeric more of toed the line between loyalty and betrayal (especially given how he actually tried to talk her out of being the Lady of Nimmira halfway through the book), but he does get better as the story goes on, revealing some inner vulnerabilities and worries about the fate of Nimmira.
I also like seeing how they used plot twists in the first half of the book to show how bad of a job the past people holding the roles of position were doing, Keri’s father included, and I think how Keri reacted to those did wonders for her own character development. The position of Lady was never something she wanted in the first place, but she rises to the occasion and really adjusts and embraces her role as Lady of Nimmira.
As for Keri’s friends such as Linnet, Cort, and Tassel, it’s fair to say that they didn’t have a lot of development. Tassel felt mainly there as an exposition person for worldbuilding, while Cort played a minimal role due to resulting in being the person-in-distress due to Eroniel kidnapping them about halfway through the book and didn’t get much action until the last few chapters. However, Linnet does have her shining moments (including calling out Domeric for notsupporting Keri, his own half-sister, in running Nimmira) and out of the friends, she was the most entertaining to read.
As for our antagonist, Eroniel, I wish I could say he made for a threatening force, but to be honest, he had a minimal role, given the plot’s focus on political intrigue and Keri’s adjustment to her rise in power. Because of this, he didn’t feel as intimidating and as much of an obstacle as he should have been towards Keri and the others.
Overall, I’m rating this book 3.5 out of 5 stars!