TITLE: Shades of Milk and Honey (Shades of Milk and Honey #1)
AUTHOR: Mary Robinette Kowal
PUBLICATION: 2010 by Tor Books
Jane has not the beauty of her younger sister Melody, but she has a great talent for glamour weavings. Still she resigns herself to spinsterhood. Yet can love come to one such as Jane with the appearance of new neighbors and old acquaintances?
WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT IT . . .
I confess that I only got this book to read because I discovered that the book I had checked out from the library, Glamour in Glass, was its sequel.
The inside flap of the jacket calls this book Pride & Prejudice meets Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel. I have not read the latter book in that comparison, but I am quite familiar with the Austen reference since it’s the only Austen book I have completely finished. It very much reads like a Jane Austen novel trapped in a magic world.
Glamour itself is an interesting concept, but I don’t quite understand the mechanics of it. It requires no verbal incantations, but we have these hand gestures conjuring fabulous magic from the ether. I think I would have liked a bit more explanation about it. I think because I don’t understand its magical laws that I can’t accept it quite so easily. And glamour seems to have taken the place of manual labor. When a main character is taken ill, Jane is praised for saving his life with the cold monger (doesn’t that just sound like a spreader of disease?). Wouldn’t applying cold cloths to the victim have produced as much effect as chill spells?
The sisters seem more like the sisters from Austen’s Sense and Sensibility than Pride & Prejudice, but I’m more going by the film adaptation since I haven’t finished that novel. Since the book focuses around Jane I am not sure why the author didn’t just use the first person narrative style to tell this tale. I think it would have been better. I started seeing Jane’s name every other sentence and the repetition was kind of annoying in an indescribable way. The reader sees nothing else except from her perspective so why even have third person if we’re not going to see the inner turmoil of the other characters?
I don’t usually read books like this so would that make Shades of Milk and Honey a guilty pleasure? I liked it a lot more than I feel comfortable admitting. It was finished the day after I started reading it. I can’t really say if this is a book for fans of Clarke’s novel, but if you like Austen go get this book from the library.