Saturday, February 25, 2012

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal is a lovely light romance in the style of Jane Austen, with just a hint of fantasy.

Jane Ellsworth is not blessed with the beauty of her younger sister Melody, but she excels in artistic pursuits such as music, painting, and "glamour," or the ability to manipulate magic to create illusions. Both Jane and Melody wish to marry well, but opportunities in their quiet neighborhood are scarce, and Jane, with her plain features, has nearly resigned herself to the fate of a spinster. Will love ever come her way?

Kowal does a good job of echoing Austen's tone, though Kowal's novel is simpler than any of Austen's. The plot is reminiscent of Sense and Sensibility, but it's not just a lifeless copy -- Kowal's story is a gracefully balanced homage with plenty of unique details. The magic system is a perfect fit for this sort of story, enhancing but not overpowering the plot. I look forward to reading more by this author.  Many thanks to my brother for this excellent recommendation!

(Review copy borrowed through my library system.)

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