heidi's Reviews > Shades of Milk and Honey

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
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's review
May 01, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: wiscon, ebook, romance, reviewed

Fans of Pride and Prejudice will find few surprises in the basic plot of this novel, but the charm is not in the plot so much as the texture, which is as transformative in its own way as the Bollywood version "Bride and Prejudice" was.

In this Regency England, accomplished ladies create illusion magic the way they paint watercolors in less-fantastical books. Some few men also do so, but as it is a womanly art, it is not very respected. Jane is an avid scholar of the art, and becomes mesmerized by a visiting artist who can do things she never thought of. Some of the description are fabulous, like this side-glance at fractals. "energy could be saved by duplicating the threads for the larger fern frond on smaller and smaller levels." Jane is a little old, a little unbeautiful, but she has her art to console her. Until her sister... well, you can imagine.

Like most magic systems, magic takes a toll of physical exhaustion, even though the metaphor is all fabric and draping and threads. I thought there was an interesting potential for self-abuse, that you could do magic until you passed out, quite easily. Or, with the constant description of light-headedness, maybe it is like being a little drunk.

Read if: You love Pride and Prejudice in all its guises. You want a novel magic system based in "feminine" metaphors.

Skip if: You are looking for original plot or startlement.

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