Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

I first heard of this book from Wendy at Literary Feline and as soon as I heard it, I was intrigued. Regency era fiction with magic? Yes please!

While the blurb talks about Pride and Prejudice, the opening pages (and the characters) remind me of Sense & Sensibility. Jane Ellsworth is the ‘ugly’ sister, but she has a cool head and incredible skill with glamour - creating illusions from the Ether. Her sister, Melody, is a charming beauty. The book starts with Jane and Melody pining after the same man, Mr. Dunkirk.

However, this love triangle quickly becomes more complicated when Mr. Dunkirk’s sister, Beth arrives. At the same time, Captain Livingston, the charming nephew of their neighbour moves in, and the talented but tactiturn glamourist Mr. Vincent is hired by Lady FitzCameron (Captain Livingston’s aunt).

Since I was in the mood for Austen (and will be rereading Persuasion after this), this was exactly what I wanted. I’m normally not a huge romance fan, but I found myself captivated by the messy relationships (romantic and familiar) and rooting for Jane to have her happy ever after.

Jane Austen fans will probably find similarities between Austen’s characters and the characters in Shades of Milk and Honey, but each character is more than the sum of their tropes and have their own desires and motivations. So while there are delightful references to Austen, the book is able to be enjoyed on its own.

My favourite characters were Jane and Beth. Jane because of her heart and skill, Beth because she reminds me of Georgina from Pride and Prejudice (but given a lot more pages than the novel). Melody was rather flighty most of the time, but if this was a homage to Sense and Sensibility then her character totally makes sense.

Fans of Jane Austen and readers who like their historical fiction with a dose of magic will enjoy this book. Given the tidy ending, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there are at least two more books in the series and I look forward to reading them.


  1. I am glad you enjoyed this one! I really liked Jane and Beth as well. Thank you for your great review, Eustacia.


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