Book 1 of Death’s Lady
by Rachel Neumeier
Neumeier gives us new worlds and new beginnings in a reverse portal contemporary fantasy.
A gifted psychiatrist, Daniel Dodson is perfectly aware that he’s in a tough place personally following the death of his wife. Then a mysterious new patient offers a welcome professional distraction.The world of swords and magic that Tenai so vividly remembers obviously can’t be real. The deadly enmity and long war that left such deep emotional scars plainly symbolize something else. But perhaps Daniel can use the signposts of those confabulated memories to aid Tenai in moving forward into a new life in the real world.
A portal fantasy from the other side: what would happen if someone from a swords & sorcery world ended up in 21st C America? Of course she would be sent to a psychiatric institute! (This isn’t a spoiler, by the way: the first sentence tells us she came from elsewhere.) I love the meeting of minds that ensues when a fierce, intelligent, competent, scarred warrior meets a gentle, intelligent, intuitive, scarred psychiatrist. I have no expertise in the field of psychiatry or therapy, but Daniel makes a really great advertisement for the profession! I love his insight, his compassion, his honesty, and the way Tenai slowly unfurls herself in response.
I think I like Neumeier’s self-published work even more than her traditionally published novels, because she has the freedom to experiment more with structure, theme, character. This is a truly unique novel with two fascinating characters–it could stand on its own, as an exploration of the disconnect between the worlds we imagine in our fantasy and the world we live in, and an illustration of how to move on from a past haunted by grief and pain. But knowing that there are two more books about Tenai’s world of dark sorcery makes this one even more fun.