Saturday, December 3, 2011

Shades of Milk and Honey

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
Tor, 2010
302 pages
Fantasy; Jane
4/5 stars

Source: Library

For some reason I kept getting this mixed up with Between Shades of Gray (link), which I've heard great things about but is really quite different. This is the one I really wanted to read as it was supposed to be like Jane Austen...with Magic! Doesn't that sound right up my alley?

And boy, did I feel that Austen influence. Especially strong examples include the couple with prejudices against each other that ends up becoming love; an emotional, indiscreet younger sister and her more prim older sister; a somewhat priggish heroine a la Fanny from Mansfield Park; a young girl overstimulated by romantic literature; and a secret engagement stemming from Emma.  This all had the effect of making everything very predictable for me (especially in that last case) but that didn't diminish my joy in that regard.

What did diminish my pleasure was a feeling that something was missing in regards to the magic. Young ladies of a certain social status are expected to have some skill in glamour. Our main character Jane does have it and expands her ability through some inspiration. Other characters have varying skill levels. And yet, this book did not satisfy me in this regard. I think I just expected something more, to grab me and not let go and I didn't get that.

Still this is a charming debut that leaves me excited for the sequel which will follow the same characters during the end of the Napoleonic Wars; Austen never wrote explicitly about war so this will allow for more departures and hopefully more depth in the magic.

1 comment:

  1. I remember being excited when I first found out about this book but then I saw the mixed reviews. Still it does sound kind of interesting as I am a fan of Jane Austen. I may have to get it from the library sometime. I am glad that you liked it even though it does have some flaws. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it!


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