Backlist Burndown Review: Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
Series: Glamourist Histories #1
Also by this author: Ghost Talkers
Published by Tor Books on August 3rd 2010
Also in this series: Glamour in Glass
The fantasy novel you’ve always wished Jane Austen had written
Shades of Milk and Honey is exactly what we could expect from Jane Austen if she had been a fantasy writer: Pride and Prejudice meets Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. It is an intimate portrait of a woman, Jane, and her quest for love in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality.
Jane and her sister Melody vie for the attentions of eligible men, and while Jane’s skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face. When Jane realizes that one of Melody’s suitors is set on taking advantage of her sister for the sake of her dowry, she pushes her skills to the limit of what her body can withstand in order to set things right—and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.
Shades of Milk and Honey is a wonderful regency romance with just enough magic (or glamour) to add an extra layer of enchantment for the reader. For anyone who enjoys Jane Austen, I highly recommend this one. While the story is enjoyable, I also feel like this is a style of book where you just enjoy how it is told, and immersing yourself in the world and time period.
The main protagonist, Jane, is not a stunning beauty, but she does have an extraordinary ability to weave glamours (illusions). While she is past the normal marrying age and resigned to be spinster (her word, not mine), you also know that she will not lead a boring life. She has a passion for what she does, and a personality that can thrive with independence.
The book is full of potential romances. Jane’s sister, Melody, is as beautiful as Jane is not and several potential romances seem to be blooming. Melody may be beautiful, but her ability with glamour is not very strong. Being able to work glamours is a skill that is well regarded, and some may even consider essential, for ladies of the time. They use it to adorn their home, create flowers or patterns where there are none, create colors to go with music, illusions to make the home more beautiful.
Trying to determine the true motivations of all the characters and what their end goals might be is part of the fun. Overall, I just really enjoyed this one. It was a wonderful change of pace for me, and hit the spot perfectly. I wanted something lovely and fun, and was avoiding the darkness that I so typically seek out in books. It delivered everything I was looking for and to be honest, as soon as I finished it, I went straight into the next in series. Always a good sign.
I have challenged and committed myself to reading at least one book from my backlist every month and posting the review on the last Friday of the month. I invite anyone interested to join me and link up their own Backlist Burndown reviews. I will offer the link at the bottom of my monthly Backlist Burndown reviews, and also will keep a running record of the reviews on my Dracarys! Backlist Burndown page available from my top menu.