Becky's Reviews > Shades of Milk and Honey

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
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's review
Mar 18, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: unfinished
Read in March, 2012

Oh dear, I tried to finish this but just couldn't. Mary Robinette Kowal is one of the podcasters on Writing Excuses, and she is a fabulous speaker about storytelling and craft. I had read that people generally rate her short work over her first novel, but my library only had the latter. I will politely assume that she is suffering from first novelitis here and is a much better storyteller than this.

This book, at least for the first hundred pages, just has too little urgency or narrative drive behind it, and the narrative and scenes lack focus. Frankly it's boring! The characters and plot feel shallow, more an Austen pastiche than a thoughtful historical fiction. The magic is intriguing, but rather mechanical in its execution; you can see where Kowal has ticked off all the boxes on the Magic System 101 checklist (rules, check; limitations, check; costs to the magic user, check).

The premise is really pretty nifty - there have been lots of Regency fantasies, but I haven't read one that confines its story and even its magicto the domestic sphere. It's a worthy endeavor; I was just really nonplussed by the story.
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