Shades of Milk and Honey

Shades of Milk and Honey  - Mary Robinette Kowal At first blush it's difficult to know what to make of this book, Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal. The tagline description I read somewhere that originally inspired me to give the book a look is probably still the best descriptor I could come up with myself: It's the book Jane Austen would have written, had she written fantasy.

That isn't mere hyperbole either, everything about the novel from it's beautifully rendered setting to the elegant prose, to the plot line focused on the romantic lives of two sisters living in an entailed estate with a father worried for their inheritance, none of it would shame Jane Austen herself.

Added to this mix is magic. Not the magic of fireballs and lightning, which would seem not only out of place but discordant in the environment, but glamour, the magic of illusion, which fits into the setting like a velvet glove and a blushing young lady.

What results is an absolutely charming romance story, with proper gentlemen, roguish cads, glamour-focused artists (glamourists) and even a pistols-at-ten-paces duel of honour. It is sedate for the most part, picking up pace towards the end.

The characters and plot bare similarities to period novels of the same type, such as Pride and Prejudice or even Little Women, however Kowal brings them to life with a wonderful freshness.

In the end, it's a perfect relaxing read, and for me an enjoyable alternative to my more usual fare. Highly recommended to anyone looking for something without the grimness that seems almost mandatory in current science fiction and fantasy.