I love Jacqeline Carey's writing. I am a complete and utter raving fangirl. Her Naamah series is not my favourite – although I liked Kiss better than Curse and Blessing - but her storytelling is still a damn sight better than a lot of other books on the market.
So here is an excerpt from Naamah's Kiss. Be warned that although this book came out in 2009 (so you really should have read it already!) this quote is from the last 10% of the novel. It describes a landscape rather than crucial action, but remains rather spoilery. Read at your peril!
We had gained the lake. True to the dragon’s vision, it reflected the snow-capped peak of White Jade Mountain in its depths. The water was very pure and clear and still. In the unaltered daylight, it would have been a translucent shade of green. The reflected mountain barely wavered on the surface of the waters, suggesting a placid, enduring eternity. Even in the twilight, it was a beautiful sight, a sight I could have gazed at for a thousand years.
The point of this post? This book is set in Carey’s fabulous alternative Earth. A lot of the tale unspools in China (or Ch'in, as she calls it). In interviews, Carey said she travelled around 中国 with her girlfriend to get a feel for the country, and the lake above was inspired by a real place. When I asked her on Facebook about it, she named Black Dragon Pool in Lijiang, Yunnan, although apparently the topography was "reimagined [...] somewhat for the purposes of the book." Beautiful. I know where I'm going for my next holiday!