Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

I very very rarely write a review as soon as I finish a book.  I am writing this about three hours after having finished Shades of Milk and Honey because I couldn’t wait to write my thoughts.  In the best way.

Now, I’m not a huge Jane Austen fan.  She’s pretty good, but I’m more of a Charlotte Bronte girl myself.  But I still know and enjoy her style and sense of romance.  In Shades of Milk and Honey Mary has captured the best of Jane Austen, but with a twist.  She added magic.

And I’m talking about anything weird or off the wall like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which I consider something of a travesty.  No, this is an engaging classical (and clean) romance with just a touch of magic.  A somewhat realistic magic, where the magicians (glamourists) pull pieces of the ether into this plane and create art and illusions.  It’s actually quite elegant and believable.  And it works wonderfully as a major plot element.

For those of you who aren’t fond of love triangles, there are a couple in Shades of Milk and Honey, but this isn’t YA, so it’s way less irritating.  It’s actually not irritating at all.  Both triangles serve to drive the story.  They’re not just there to fit into some kind of genre requirement.  One of them serves as fodder for the scandal that eventually brings the other triangle to a satisfactory conclusion.

Not since Edenbrooke have I felt such fondness for the lovers.  I actually cried a little, which almost never happens with me.  What makes the romance especially lovely in Shades of Milk and Honey is how the lovers are so selfless that they almost miss their chance.  In most romances, it seems like the couple is so wrapped up in their own romance that they forget that live goes on around them.

Now here’s the best part: Jane (our heroine) is truly physically unattractive.  Not pretty for real but doesn’t realize it (as the story usually goes).  No, she really has a huge nose and pointy chin and has no illusions as to her physical appearance.  But it doesn’t matter.  She’s beautiful in every other way, and the good men in the story notice.  Her extremely beautiful sister even knows that Jane’s talents and compassion make her more attractive than her.  And it’s so refreshing!

Shades of Milk and Honey is the first in a series, and I am going to go right out and get the next one.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I’m glad that Shades of Milk and Honey made such an impression on you! The short blurb caught my eye, but it could have gone either way, so I’m psyched that the author was actually able to deliver. And, I LOVE that the heroine is fugly! Way more realistic, and I get super sick of reading about beautiful people after a while.

    1. Leila

      Not only was she fugly (as you so eloquently put it), the beautiful people around her were awful, her sister especially. I would love to see more characters where they truly are beautiful only on the inside. But then again I’m a sucker for anything unique.

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