Shades of Milk and Honey
Mary Robinette Kowal
August 3, 2010
Borrowed from Library
Synopsis (from publisher): 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.
Review: This was a lovely if perhaps a tad slight book. The Regency-with-magic setting was delicately handled, and I particularly enjoyed the characterization of our main character, Jane, the plain yet artistic Ellsworth sister and the positioning of magic as one of the arts that a well-brought up lady should know instead of something outside the bounds of propriety. The homages to Austen were well done, drawing smiles from this reader more than once.
Some parts of the plot - including the romance but also the relationship between the sisters and the fate of one of the supporting characters - seemed overly rushed, but I still quite enjoyed the book and very much hope the author writes more in this universe. The worldbuilding around the magic was detailed, and I enjoyed how glamour was a quite different type of magic than one would normally expect in a fantasy book.
There’s a lot more that could be done in this universe, and I hope to be able to read more intricate works surrounding how exactly magic has affected the Ellsworths’ world compared to our own and deepening our understanding of the current characters and their abilities.
As a side note, the author is one of my favorite voice actors and if you ever come across an audiobook she performs, I wholeheartedly encourage you to take a listen!