Shades of Milk and Honey

Mary Robinette Kowal, Author
Mary Robinette Kowal, Tor, $24.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7653-2556-3
Reviewed on: 06/14/2010
Release date: 08/01/2010
Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-4299-6336-7
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-7653-2560-0
Ebook - 135 pages - 978-1-4721-0250-8
Hardcover - 1 pages - 978-1-4721-0248-5
Hardcover - 1 pages - 978-1-4721-0249-2
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In Kowal's quasi-Regency fantasy debut, plain Miss Jane Ellsworth envies her sister's looks, while flighty Melody envies Jane's talent with magical glamour. Rude, mysterious Mr. Vincent, a brilliant glamour artist hired to create living murals in a nearby mansion, shows little interest in the niceties of society, and none (it seems) in Jane. As Jane shyly seeks Mr. Vincent's tutelage and approval, Melody pursues a disastrous romance. A sprinkling of Jane Austen's idiosyncratic spellings (shew, teaze, etc.) doesn't hide the lack of her trenchant wit or distinctive characters, and period errors abound. Despite the tremendous potential in the magical manipulation of light and temperature, glamour is used solely for decoration and entertainment, with implausibly little effect on history or culture. The story plods at a wooden pace until the climax, which achieves a sprightly comedy-of-errors froth. (Aug.)
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