Review: Shades of Milk and Honey
I’ve been on a bit of a Jane Austen tare for a while. I say that and probably to anyone else it could be more closely described as “not immediately being turned off at the mention of something”. I have to admit that until 2014 I was totally closed off to the idea of Regency stories. Then one of my favorite authors released one. Next thing I know the love of my life and I are going to see Sense and Sensibility at the Shakespeare Theater, I’ve watched way more of Black Butler then I thought I would, I know what Downton Abbey is (which I know isn’t regency but it feels like one and I’m leaving it in!) and then the love of my life is sitting me down for a viewing of the Jane Austen Book Club, which is a movie about a bunch of people who read Jane Austen. Yeah. Things got meta.
That first book was called Valour and Vanity and the best part about it was that it was actually part four of a whole series of Regency books and I spent 2015 getting caught up on the three previous books. The Glamourist Histories starts with Shades of Milk and Honey. The story of Jane Ellsworth in the search for her place in the world and a common story in the realm of regency stories. It’s quickly combined with the fantasy genre when the ability of Glamour is introduced. An example of the best kind of world building, Glamour is expertly woven into the background of the primary plot and continues the tone and visual aspect of the genres it’s merging.
Glamour is an illusory power, where in the user can call upon flows from a magical source to create vastly complex images and sounds, but draws upon the vitality of the weaver to maintain. The ability, though seemingly fairly common, is thought of as a lady’s pursuit in the vein of music and art. Things that a young lady means might find diverting.
Though the ability is used to dramatic effect it never becomes more than an aspect of the world. The best kind of magic and world building in general never peaks to far beyond the plot of the story and only serves to elevate and enhance what’s going on and the choices that a character has available to them.
That said I think I give the beginning of this book some buffer because I came into the story already loving the characters from having read later in the series first. I think I would even suggest that people tackle the series in a scattered order, because even though there are some life events can be spoiled by reading later in the series, the words of Kowal never fail to rope me into a scene and entrance me even while I might have long guessed what the outcome of the story is going to be. It’s still thrilling to hear characters say the words you probably knew they were going to say to each other the moment they met back in an earlier chapter.
I give this one four out of five stars. The other books in the series will be coming up in future weeks.