Meridy Turiyn's black eyes and dark skin tell every small, fair-skinned mind in Tikiy-by-the-Water what they need to know—she's inherited the eyes of a witch from her late mother and dark complexion from an unnamed Southern father. In short: outcast.
When she turns 15, Meridy's deplorable aunt pawns her off as an apprentice to the town's soap maker, a fate far removed from the romantic tales of sorcery and ancient kings Meridy loves. Before this life sentence can even begin, Meridy meets a ghost who is anchored to a dying stranger. In saving the stranger's life, Meridy is immediately propelled into a mission involving sorcery, claims on thrones, and a witch king supposedly dead for centuries—all while learning to wield the magical power brewing within her. As to be expected from this cerebral purveyor of fully realized fantasy worlds, Neumeier firmly establishes the laws and rules of this medievallike fantasy's reality early on, but she also gives Meridy's world a romantic tinge, from the colors of a couture gown to the gnashing tusks of a fire horse. Catharsis comes as Meridy rejects the life bestowed upon her by tradition and expectation and realizes the dark skin and eyes that set her apart physically aren't anything to feel shame for.
A richly rewarding stand-alone story evoking far more color than its titular tint might suggest.(Fantasy. 14 & up)