Thursday, May 30, 2013

Without a Summer


Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal
4/5 stars
Tor Books, 2013
364 pages
Adult Fantasy Historical Austen

Source: Library

This is the third book in the Glamourist Histories series following the adventures of Sir and Lady Vincent in Shades of Milk and Honey and Glamour in Glass during Regency times. Although the first book drew heavily on the works of Jane Austen, the second moved away and this third book continues the trend expanding on the historical and magical foundations of this world.

The year is 1816 and it seems like the winter will never end with crops failing and increasing unemployment with returning soldiers from the Napoleonic wars.  A convenient target is the coldmongers who, in small doses can manipulate glamour to keep things cold; the general public considers them the reason between the freezing and the situation gets tense. On a more personal level, Jane and her husband have a commission in London and they take this opportunity to bring Jane's sister Melody along so she can potentially acquire a husband. But her number one choice seems very unsuitable especially as he may be involved with something very shady.

My favorite aspect of this book is actually one I didn't mention above: Sir Vincent has been estranged from his family ever since he pursued glamour as a profession but the possibility of reconciliation is dangled, introducing many new characters including his cold and cruel father. I also really liked the historical elements-I didn't even know about this cold summer until I read this book.

The part I didn't really like was the romantic subplot-I didn't think much of Melody's suitor, which coincides with Jane's assessment of his character. When the main character is so anti-someone, it is hard to persevere in liking him. Luckily Jane and Vincent have some really cute moments as they fight for their marriage despite many challenges. They are starting to know each other so well and have great banter.

Overall: Fun magical world incorporating lesser-known historical facts (there's a fun discussion guide at the end to peruse) and ever deepening its characterization.

14 comments:

  1. I do think I need to try this series

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    1. It's really cool-love the magical worlds!

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  2. I'd heard of Shades of Milk and Honey, but I'd never have known this book was part of that series based on the cover. It's gorgeous, but very different. :) I'll definitely have to give this series a try!

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    1. This cover is very different from that one-I think it's supposed to be the sister because Jane is a brunette with very short hair.

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  3. Aw sorry that you didn't like her suitor but the Vincent part sound intriguing

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    1. It did make me think of Emma though, which is one of its inspirations so that was good.

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  4. The cover on this one is gorgeous! I might pick it up just for that. :)

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    1. I like the cover too but you should give it a read too (after you've read the first two books as well).

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  5. I haven't seen this series, but I also don't read a whole bunch of historical fiction. It does sounds good though. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

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    1. Yeah, it's a bit of a change for me, reading adult fiction but I think these books have crossover appeal so I like sharing about them.

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  6. "Adult Fantasy Historical Austen"

    I never even knew there was such a genre! I need to check this out!

    You can find me here: Jen @ YA Romantics

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    1. It probably should be Historical Fantasy and the Austen is more for my own tagging but...it's what I find helpful. I think this series has a lot of crossover potential and is great for people who like fantasies but are sometimes intimidated by them.

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  7. Glad you enjoyed this book :D Never heard of the series before, but ohh. The cover is all kinds of gorgeous. Might have to check them out ;) Thank you for sharing. <3

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    1. It's a pretty neat series-I'm glad I've checked it out and I will be continuing to the next book.

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