Celeste's Reviews > Shades of Milk and Honey

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
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it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites, historical, fantasy
Read 2 times. Last read March 29, 2018 to March 30, 2018.

Full review now posted!

This was absolutely delightful.

Fantasy of manners is a subgenre that I didn’t realized I needed in my life. I’ve read books that technically fit the genre, such as the Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare and Alison Goodman’s Dark Days Club, but those both felt more like YA than anything else. Because they are. This was my first experience with an adult fantasy of manners, and I loved it.

Fantasy of manners is basically if Jane Austen had included magic in her writing. And that is exactly what this book was. So much so, in fact, that some people found the novel too derivative of Austen to merit enjoyment. I beg to differ. I picked this up because I wanted to see what an Austen novel would feel like with magic involved, and that is exactly what I got. While there were a few variations, that plot line and characters were remarkably similar to the famous cast of Pride and Prejudice, but it was so well written and the characters so well developed that it felt more like an ode to Austen than a plagiarism. That’s my take, at least.

The writing was perfectly lovely, and felt exactly like it sprang from Austen’s pen. I’ve never read a Regency-inspired novel that felt this true to the original writings that inspired them, and I’ve read a good many Regency novels. The prose never felt too heavy or like the author was trying too hard to mimic her inspiration. It was convincingly Regency, yet felt fresh at the same time.

One of the loveliest aspects of this novel was the magic system. In this alternate Regency era, glamour is another of the womanly arts that eligible bachelorettes in search of a husband are expected to deftly produce. This glamour is a weaving of the magical energy alive in the air. Glamour can be applied to music, allowing it to loop after being played or producing colors and shapes that complement the tune. It can also be applied to paintings and rooms, brightening them and adding life. But the most impressive use of glamour is found in the production of glamurals, living artwork that engages all five senses. These glamurals are usually attached to rooms, and can remain as long as the room survives. Working a convincing glamural is the epitome of success for an artist, be they male or female. However, there’s a catch; working too much glamour can leading to chills, fainting, or even death in extreme cases. This makes glamour the most dangerous of the womanly arts, but the respected, as well.

While this is the first book of a series, Shades of Milk and Honey is a perfectly self-contained story, giving readers a full story with a satisfying conclusion. It makes a wonderful standalone novel, if you happen to be looking for something to provide a break from the trilogies and series that fantasy novels always seem to come in. If you love Jane Austen and magic, I can’t recommend this highly enough. And if you need a book that is hopeful and has a happily ever after ending, this novel is a breath of fresh air.

Original review can be found at Booknest.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
March 29, 2018 – Started Reading
March 30, 2018 – Shelved
March 30, 2018 – Finished Reading
March 31, 2018 – Shelved as: favorites
March 31, 2018 – Shelved as: historical
March 31, 2018 – Shelved as: fantasy

Comments Showing 1-12 of 12 (12 new)

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message 1: by L A i N E Y (new)

L A i N E Y Wow great review Celeste, very detailed too.

Yes I’ve heard of this one before and my reaction was in the same way as when I heard of P&P & Zombie (like, umm no) LOL. But you commenting on how lovely and Austen-like the writing was, that is very encouraging for me. Thanks 🙏🏻


Celeste Thanks, Lainey!! I was expecting something more like P&P&Z, as well, but NOPE. This was lovely! If you decide to read it, let me know! 😁


message 3: by Miche (new) - added it

Miche Very interesting! I didn't know this genre. Thank you, Celeste!


Celeste You’re very welcome, Miche!


Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~ Excellent review Celeste! This is a genre I myself have been interested in! Glad to see you enjoyed it my love 💕


Celeste Thank you, darling!! I think you’d enjoy it, too! 😘


message 7: by L A i N E Y (new)

L A i N E Y I will (let you know), Celeste! And if I decide to read it, I’ll probably come back and stalk this review later hahaha.


Celeste Sounds perfect, Lainey! 😘


message 9: by TS (new) - added it

TS Chan Oh wow, this sounds so intriguing! Wonderful review, as always, my dear!


Celeste Thank you, my love! 😘


message 11: by Haïfa (new) - added it

Haïfa Lovely review, my darling!! I wanna try this!


Celeste Haïfa wrote: "Lovely review, my darling!! I wanna try this!"

Thank you, my love! I think you'd enjoy this!


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