Author: Mary Robinette Kowal
Series: Glamourist Histories #1
Publisher: Tor Books
Date: July 26, 2010
Shades of Milk and Honey is an intimate portrait of Jane Ellsworth, a woman ahead of her time in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality. But despite the prevalence of magic in everyday life, other aspects of Dorchester’s society are not that different: Jane and her sister Melody’s lives still revolve around vying for the attentions of eligible men.
Jane resists this fate, and rightly so: while her skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face, and therefore wins the lion’s share of the attention. At the ripe old age of twenty-eight, Jane has resigned herself to being invisible forever. But when her family’s honor is threatened, she finds that she must push her skills to the limit in order to set things right--and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.
This debut novel from an award-winning talent scratches a literary itch you never knew you had. Like wandering onto a secret picnic attended byPride and Prejudice and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Shades of Milk and Honey is precisely the sort of tale we would expect from Jane Austen…if only she had been a fantasy writer.
I read Shades of Milk and Honey in about 4 hours. No joke. I sat down after work and just gobbled it up. This is a book I’ve been dying to read for ages, so I finally got around to buying a copy a few weeks ago and I’m very glad I did!
Shades of Milk and Honey has a very Jane Austen-feel to it (which is completely unsurprising given all of the Jane Austen references in the praises, right smack on the cover). In any case, if you like those old fashioned romances this is definitely a great book to check out – especially if you love a bit of magic your stories!
The magic (or glamour) that is used in this book was just awesome. It almost whisked me back away to Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy, which was just filled with magic and fantasy, and god did I love those books! Leave me a comment down below if you from time to time wish you could visit the realms too 🙂 .
In any case, the magic that Jane and Mr. Vincent created in the book sounded unbelievably cool! Imagine being able to create an entire forest in your dining room or animate your paintings. If only these things were real.
As much as I loved the magic, though, I equally disliked the relationship between Jane and her sister Melody. Having two sisters of my own, I just could not imagine treating each other like that. Having feelings for the same guy? Nope. We’re far too different, plus that is both weird and gross. Getting so jealous of each other, we resort to sabotage? Never. And I mean never. What sisters don’t hate each other a little every know and then? I completely understand why they would be fighting. But I just thought Melody was such a hateful b***h and was really put off by the whole sister dynamic.
The romance was a bit similar for me. On the one hand, I thought it was a bit ridiculous. On the other hand, I loved it! Let me explain. Since this story feels a bit Austen-inspired, there is one relationship which just seems so Mr. Darcy-esque right off the bat. I loved those scenes! Then there is another one, which you can tell could turn into something else, and that was fun too watch. Then there is Lord Douchey Pants, who I won’t outright name for those of you haven’t read the book, and everything surrounding him was just utterly ridiculous.
The climax of the novel centered around some really cool magic (which I loved) and the most absurd, overly-dramatic love-gone-wrong scene on the planet. I don’t even think the soap operas I watched in middle school were that over the top! Huge deviation from the Austen feel, and the entire time I was reading I was just sitting there thinking “seriously?” But the pages just kept turning because I was loving the writing and the story!
Shades of Milk and Honey is not without it’s flaws. Nevertheless, it had that unputdownable quality that I often find in Kiera Cass’ books (Elite drove me insane for so many different plot reasons, but I just loved reading the book). The world building is truly awesome and who doesn’t love a good Mr. Darcy type of story? If you like Jane Austen, Downton Abbey, or anything by Julianne Donaldson, Shades of Milk and Honey is a great book for you.